It’s a tough road for women in a super-hero movie. Few get to be more than love interests. But that’s not the case in James Gunn’s Super. Ellen Page she gets to play the superhero sidekick, who’s way more trouble than expected. And for Liv Tyler, she gets to play not the love interest of Rainn Wilson’s superhero Crimson Bolt, but his wife – who’s succumbed to addiction yet again and has left him for another man. Neither is waiting around to be saved, and that may have been what drew both to Super, which opens Friday in theaters and on VOD. We talked to both women about the film. Check it out.
Can you talk about your look for this film?
Liv Tyler: With this character I changed my hair color, I wanted her to blend in to the world. I tried to go a dirty natural blonde, but it was a disaster. It looked so bad on me. My features disappeared, my lips, my eyes, they just went away. And soon as we added a little red, a little dark, everything came back in, but it was fun for me to play around with that, it wasn’t fun for my hair, which is still breaking off.
What brought you in to this film, because it is a departure from what we normally see you doing?
LT: I just read the script and fell in love with it. I don’t think I had done anything since The incredible Hulk – I had done The Strangers and The Hulk back to back and was doing Givenchy stuff, and being a mom, and I was looking for something. Honestly, my whole career I just read and find things that I fall in love with. And sometimes I get them, and sometimes I don’t. And this was something that I just really loved. And so I met with James (Gunn) and I knew that Rainn (Wilson) was attached and Ellen (Page) was attached so it all just came together, and I didn’t really overthink it too much. I just said “I’m going to try this and see what this is like, and I’m not going to make any money, and there’s no money for the movie, and I’m going to go to Shreveport, Louisiana and live in a hotel on the side of the highway, and it’s a twenty four day shoot, and it’s on video so there’s no playback, so it was a whole new experience. I’ve made really small independent films before, but this was – for sure – the smallest. But it was really liberating. It’s just an interesting exercise. And any chance I have to work in an ensemble with other actors that I love on a story that I love I grab that opportunity. I feel safest and happiest in that environment because as an actor that’s so fun.
It sounds like it was a ton of fun to work with Rainn Wilson and company?
LT: It was fun but we were all there to work. We really didn’t have a lot of time. That’s one of the things about a bigger budget movie – you have a lot more time to lounge around, drink cappuccinos and giggle and long leisurely lunches – we didn’t have that. So we all had to be very mindful and very prepared, very focused, just go to work. There were a lot of set ups every day, a lot of dialogue, a lot of action, a lot of “we have two hours to get this, so here we go.” James was very good at being specific and prepared with what he had shot for shot – every single detail. That was a big help.
Did you have a rehearsal period?
LT: We went down to Shreveport, and Rainn and I went to a local indie theater down there, and they let us use a room in their space to rehearse, but we just wound up talking and going over ideas, but we didn’t really rehearse-rehearse. We didn’t have a lot of time. I think that Rainn and James worked together a lot more.
Did you get to play any with Kevin Bacon?
LT: We actually got to shoot the shit a lot more. One of our first days we were together we were sitting in a car for half the day, and most of scene took place out of the car. We would just sit in the car and chat the whole time. I’ve met him a few times – he’s a lovely man – and I enjoyed getting to hang out with him.
As a kid, did you ever have fantasies of being a superhero or superpowers?
LT: I had the Wonder Woman underoos, I still have them. My mom saved them. I guess so, I was in the weird generation of He-Man, which is not a superhero, but I really liked Scooby-Doo, and He-Man, and the Incredible Hulk, but the TV show was my first real introduction into superheroes. And I used to watch Batman and Robin – but the TV show, the campy version, which I was obsessed with. I was never that big of a comic person that I can remember. I was more into music than I was into comics.
What’s the greatest gift that filmmaking has given you?
LT: I feel so greatful when I look back and I’m thirty-three-years old and I’ve been working since I was fifteen, and the experiences that I’ve had – getting to work with Robert Altman twice, and Bernardo Bertolucci, I’ve worked with all kinds of interesting filmmakers and actors, some of whom have passed away. And I just think as a young woman how lucky I was to travel to some many different places and interesting people. I’m very observant, and I like to ask questions and getting to see things, so going somewhere and getting live there for a chunk of time – even Shreveport – I loved it. My driver was my best friend, I loved her. I asked her a million questions, I’m really curious, and I enjoy that part – getting to be a gypsy and exploring the world a little bit.
How did you land the role, how did this come to you? Did (James) Gunn just approach you asking please do this or…?
Ellen Page: He e-mailed me the script which was awesome and immediately I was stoked. I had just gotten back from Nova Scotia, I had just shot Inception and I think just finished and I was just excited to know that wow, Rainn (Wilson) wanted to do something together. And I immediately read the script and was I absolutely in. And grateful that James (Gunn) wrote a role like that for a young woman. I just feel lucky every time I get to play an interesting character like that cause it’s like few and far between.
What is your favorite part or treat in Boltie/Libby?
EP: Maybe just like her energy. I wish I had that energy all the time, I don’t obviously. I feel like an old lady sometimes.
How then would you get yourself geared up then for the shot?
Ellen Page: Just do it. Yeah, you just do it. Drink green tea and listen to some rock n’ roll and just go it. Rev yourself up. And when you’re working with someone like Rainn (Wilson), who’s constantly present, or the energy of James Gunn. You’re with two rad dudes who are just really amazing spirit.
This isn’t your first time in the comic book world, are you a comic book fan?
EP: You know, I’m not really. I’m kind of a weird, depressing graphic novel fan like that amazing graphic novel “Blankets.” So that’s kind of more my scene when it comes to comic graphic novel thing.
What else do you have going on future projects-wise?
EP: I’m really hoping to shoot a movie called Freeheld coming out really soon, it’s based on a true story, and is a documentary that won Best Short Subject at the Oscars a few years ago of the same name, so hopefully that’ll come together. And Ron Nyswaner is writing it, the same guy who did Philadelphia so hopefully that’ll come together. So I’m really hoping that will happen soon. Developing a show called “Stitch N Bitch” that I wrote with my friend Alia Shawkat and Sean Tillman, we all wrote it together. “Stitch N Bitch,” that’s the name of their hipster band. And yeah, mostly trying to develop stuff.
Are you optioning material?
EP: I’ve recently optioned a book and I probably shouldn’t say anything yet because it’s so recent. But I’m very excited about it so hopefully that’ll get rolling quickly and then we can talk about it. I mean it’s a book, it’s not a graphic novel or anything.
Rainn (Wilson) talked about how he considered himself to be the base of the film, sort of the calm and steady. So I guess that makes you the lead guitarist of it, Did you ever get him to break when you were doing a scene? Did you get him to laugh since you’re more of the comic figure?
EP: You know the scene where I’m showing off my sweet moves? I think I made him laugh a couple of times only because I looked like an idiot.
Super opens Friday in theaters and on VOD. Check it out.