In theaters this week, is a film by Atom Egoyan, starring Scott Speedman, Arsinée Khanjian, Devon Bostick, and the lovely Rachel Blanchard in a film about terrorism, intolerance, the Internet and one powerful imagination. Without giving too much away, the film is indescribable, with twists and turns that leave you pondering even after the film is done.
In a film with so much dark material, Rachel is the light that shines through. Her story and her on screen presence help to bring an overall warmth to the film.
Speaking to her in person was a similar experience. When I went to interview her, there were a few problems. After waiting over an hour, I was introduced to Rachel only to find that they could not find the key for the room I was supposed to interview her in. To make matters worse, it was 3:50pm and she had to be somewhere across town at 4:00pm. I could tell that they were ready to scarp the entire thing, when Rachel looked at me and said “want to just sit here down and do it in the lobby?” Despite her need to make an appointment, we took up a seat and began.
So without further ado, here is what we were able to speak about before she had to rush off…
The screenplay is so complex; there are so many different things going on, what did you think when you first read it?
RB: When I first read it, I thought, “I need to read it again.” I knew that I’d say yes and I knew that with Atom’s films, you would never be able to read it from beginning to end and feel that you understood all of it, which is what I like about them. I read it a couple times and then I just focused on my part because it was almost separate from the rest of the movie. She had a certain innocence in terms of what was happening in the rest of the story and I knew that I didn’t need to know what was going on and I wanted to sort of forget about [the other part of the film].
This is the second time you’ve worked with the director Atom. Was it reassuring to step on to the same set with him, or was it something completely new?
RB: It was different because it’s a smaller movie from Where the Truth Lies but it was reassuring and I love Atom and it was nice to work with this great director again.
What advantages were there to working with a Director that you know?
RB: You have to really trust and respect your director. If you don’t trust your director, it’s really hard. But, with someone like Atom, you do the homework before and you kind of just get to play and explore the characters.
You were so separated from the rest of the cast in the film, what did you think when you finally saw the film?
RB: I loved it. It was much more closely linked to the script than I thought it would be. Usually, you do a film and you can’t even see the script in it. But, this was pretty accurate to the script; I really like it. I was surprised at how touching it was. Like I said, my character was almost in her own movie, so there was a lot of stuff that I forgot had happened.
Do you like working on the more independent films such as this film?
RB: I think there are two types of independent films. There are good independent films and then there are independent films that make you wonder, “Why did anyone make this?” It’s just a terrible movie that is independent, but it does not mean that it’s necessarily artistic or good. So, I love doing movies like this, but I also like doing bigger films as well. I love variety.
In a way, as much as you are the light in the film, there’s a lot of dark surroundings. What was it about this role that attracted you?
RB: I think I definitely gravitate towards dark material or humor. I like things being a little bit off, I guess.
Do you prepare for comedic or dramatic roles differently?
RB: No, I think it depends on who the character is. As an actor, that’s what you want to do; you have to be able to do as many different types of things as you can. Cher was my first big American job and you tend to get defined by your first role, but that might not necessarily be the best thing to define you.
Do you think there is any kind of a stigma attached to attractive women doing comedy? And why do you feel you’re not effected by that?
RB: I don’t know if it’s a matter of willing or opportunity that some times they think…well, probably because I’m not a bombshell or the most beautiful girl in the world. I think people have the idea that if you’re pretty, you can’t be funny. But, I think that’s what other people put on women more than maybe the fact that a pretty woman isn’t funny? I don’t know. I think about that a lot; like, you have to be quirky-looking to be funny? But, I think it’s kind of changing. Like, with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. They’re kind of changing it.
Some actors tend to get stuck in certain roles, do you intentionally try to switch things up so that, that doesn’t happen to you?
RB: I think I try to do things that I find interesting. But, then, I’m not at the point where I’d like to be; to have the choice to do what I really want to do would be really nice, but I don’t have that luxury. Every so often, jobs like this come along and you just have the chance to do them and you’re so excited to do them. I felt like that with “Flight of the Conchords.” I got offered that and I didn’t really know what it was, but they seemed pretty funny. I didn’t know who they were then and that turned out to be an amazing experience. If I find something I can somehow connect to, then I’ll end up doing it. Usually, it pays off, but some times, it ends up being a terrible project. But, you won’t know until you do them, and those are the ones, the ones you take the risk on, that usually end up being the best.
It seems like in order to be on the cusp of something, you have to take the risk. Have you ever been in the middle of a project and thought, “This is going downhill, but I gotta keep going”?
RB: Yeah, I’ve thought a few times, “Oh, this is not gonna be good.” I’m not really going to mention what they are. But, you just have to take a leap of faith. Maybe that’s part of the luxury of being just under the radar.
What would be your dream job? Or possibly dream Director?
RB: I have a few dream jobs. I’d love to work with Michel Gondry and I love Terrence Malick’s movies. I would love to do, not a re-make, but I love Fawltey Towers. Cameron Cruz movies. I would love to do a Sarah Polley movie; I really liked Away From Her, I thought that was a really great movie. I guess those are the dream roles; there’s more than one. Just different characters and tones of film; things like that.
You have worked with a lot of breaking talent in the industry, what do you think the key to aspiring actors, filmmakers, directors, making into the business?
RB: I would say, “just write.” Now you can make your own movies and things like that and you can just do it. I think that’s the biggest thing: just doing it and not talking about doing it. Everyone starts somewhere. And you realize that these young filmmakers, the only real difference between them and me is that they’re actually doing it.
Have you ever aspired to write or direct anything?
RB: Yeah, I’ve been writing. I don’t know if I would ever want to direct. If I did direct, I’d want it to be a short first. I think I’d rather write. I love looking books because that’s where you really find the best parts for movies.
What type of writing would you work on?
RB: It’s a comedy and a psychological thriller. It’s really kind of dark.
What are they about?
RB: I’ll tell you when they get made. Top secret, sorry!
This film deals a lot with issues of people possibly over-expressing themselves on the internet, have you ever had any experiences with that?
RB: I have a friend who puts some pretty provocative pictures on Facebook and every address she’s ever lived at and I think… I just don’t understand it. I do think it’s kind of dangerous. The internet is amazing, but there is definitely a limit and I don’t think we’ve really realized what that limit should be. It can be kind of isolating and it can be completely obsessive; just the need to check everything all the time. I’m taking a little break from the internet right now. I’m still using my e-mail, which isn’t that much of a break, but I’m trying not to use the internet too much right now and I’m not on Facebook or Skype. You don’t want to live your life around a computer.
I think this movie, hopefully, will have an effect. I don’t necessarily know that it can be marketed to teenagers or anything like that. It’s the tricky step. I wish 15 year-olds would actually watch this.
There is definitely a good and a bad side to the Internet.
RB: Yeah. It’s a great thing. It’s just you need to practice portion control. I was having trouble with that.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to ask Rachel anymore questions, as she someone came in and she was rushed off, quite late for what I think was an audition, which she was now quite late for.
She did however, ask for my number and called me later that night to ask me if I had anymore questions. Let me assure you, this does not happen everyday. Most of the time people are more than ready to get rid of you when they get the chance. Sadly, I missed her phone call because I was in a Wolverine screening. If only I would have known!
I would encourage you to go and see her in Adoration in theaters May 8th. The film discusses a number of hot button questions from an extremely unique perspective and Rachel and the rest of the cast really do a phenomenal job in the film.