Good evening, readers! I hope everyone is getting geared up for this coming Thursday and just admit it now…you ARE going to stuff out on WAY too much food…and LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT! BUT…before we get to the wonders of the holiday, I would like to present to you the results of yet another amazing arrangement brought to my online doorstep by Caryn Leeds and Annick Oppenheim of Sunshine Sachs New York (THANK YOU, again, ladies!). As this journey to speak with more and more actors unfolds, I had the chance to interview a wonderful young woman whose career in film is only beginning and, in my humble opinion, will only continue to rise. A multi-talented artist with plenty of dreams to be made real, she has had the benefit of getting to write, produce, AND star in her very first, and very personal, indie film effort, the modern dramedy “I’m Obsessed With You (Now You’ve Got To Leave Me Alone)”, my REVIEW of which can be found HERE. So, without further ado, I give to you my completely enjoyable 1/2 hour with the lovely, truly genuine, actress, Genevieve Adams.
One Film Fan: So, the story so far, how were you first drawn to the acting profession? When did it become evident that acting was going to be your career choice?
Genevieve Adams: When I was little, my grandparents on my Mom’s side played a huge part in my childhood. They were both comedy writers in Chicago in the 50’s and 60’s and they had a long-running sketch review there called “Quick Changes” that moved to off-Broadway in, I think, the mid-60’s. They were both very big personalities. Then they started writing radio plays, and working advertising, but they always had very colorful, creative friends in theater. My grandfather and I would sit on the living room couch at my place for my sister’s birthday and at the party we would hand out scripts and props and we’d put them on. He was just a larger than life, very colorful character and someone I loved and admired. So, I sort of grew up around a lot of colorful people and personalities. Also, I grew up in New York City and I was walking up to be able to go to the theater a lot, and I just wanted to be up there, too! I learned from an early age that I could make people laugh, and I felt really good about that and sort of got addicted to it.
O.F.F.: How did you further learn the art (ie: mentors, influences, schooling)?
GA: I’d say I didn’t really learn so much about the TECHNIQUE. I mean, I learned from drama teachers in school, but I still loved to perform and that kind of thing when I was younger. I really learned my technique and that I could be good, or really good, at the Will Esper Studio with Terry Knickerbocker as my teacher and he, through his version of the Meisner technique, taught me about improvisational acting…how to be true to yourself while also being a character and how to draw upon your own experiences and idiosyncrasies as a person, to be able to bring other characters to life through yourself, by KNOWING yourself. I found that very compelling. A lot of actors I admire like Diane Keaton or Jeff Goldblum came from that kind of school of Meisner, neighborhood playhouse thought of “use yourself”. And it’s not about bringing the character down to you, you still have to rise to the part, but it’s about knowing yourself well enough to be able to dial things up and down within you, and come TO the character from that perspective…you transform by not TRYING to transform is my point. We all as human being have it in us, we’ve felt the range of human emotion, and we can put ourselves in other people’s shoes through our own self-knowledge. I thought that was really interesting and fascinating. When I was 9-years old, I was in an opera at Julliard, which was really cool, through this musical theater program I did, and I just loved that so much, and it was a “Live From” PBS broadcast in 1997! So, that was really cool and that definitely fed me, being back stage at Lincoln Center when I was 9-years old and should have been doing my homework, so it was pretty cool!
O.F.F.: That’s no fair, that’s what I would have wanted to be doing instead of doing homework! Come on! Lucky you!
GA: Yeah! Lucky! As they had just cast, or they needed, kids for this big production that Maury Sendak was doing and I was in this musical theater after-school program and they cast all the kids in the group, so it was pretty lucky! AND I got my first $50.00 paycheck as an actress! (Laughs)
O.F.F.: What have the experiences been like in the film roles you’ve had to date, working with veteran actors like Kristen Wiig in “The Skeleton Twins” and Liam Neeson in “A Walk Among The Tombstones”?
GA: Well, it’s been amazing! I worked with Kristen Wiig in “The Skeleton Twins” and I was so… you can ask Avy Kaufman (the casting agent for the film)…that was my dream come true and she gave me the opportunity, and I’ll never forget her for that. Kristin Wiig is one of my heroes as a strong woman in comedy, interesting character actress, she’s a really good leading lady. She was so kind and generous, and I was actually really nervous, but she put me at ease because she was so lovely and friendly. Same thing with Liam Neeson who’s extremely down-to-earth. He could see I wasn’t sure where to stand by the camera and he would motion to me, so he was very, very kind and asked me a lot about myself. With the really good actors, they’re usually smart, and smart people are usually smart enough to be kind to those coming up, and both of them I was so lucky and felt honored to be in their presence. And it’s cool to watch them work also, how they do what they do, see how relaxed they are in front of a camera, how they can just be themselves and be natural and authentic. Even in extreme circumstances, you know, freezing in the diner we were shooting at or we’re shooting in the middle of the night and how film actors are up against the elements, you know? And with the example of Kristen and Liam (in view of a side comment I made about huge actors and having the impression it’s all ego out there, but then hearing it’s NOT that way) they’re both incredibly successful, and I think to BE that you have to be smart and I think people that have long and interesting careers ARE, and smart enough to be generous. In this business, things can change really fast and you want everyone to speak well of you, like in any business.
O.F.F.: So, onto your current project, “I’m Obsessed With You (But You’ve Got To Leave Me Alone)”, in which you star as well as wrote AND produced….What first inspired you to write the play the film is now based on?
GA: My experiences on an improv group at Dartmouth College called “Casual Thursday”, and I was one of two girls…actually, it was three and 8 guys! Sometimes, when Lauren or Tabitha weren’t there, it would just be me….with 8 guys. The movie doesn’t represent that gender dynamic so much, but I learned a lot from performing in these fraternity basement settings about this sub-culture of arts that goes on at colleges today. I was really inspired by it because, as a performer, it put me on the spot and made me braver and more courageous…I actually came out of my shell there. I was just inspired at Dartmouth, I had so many interesting friends, so many eccentric, funny people that I met…I just felt really alive and I wanted somehow to communicate, to record, those friendships and experiences and share them with the world as I thought they were super unique and inspiring. I didn’t think that a lot of people KNEW there was this much creativity IN American colleges and that whole improv comedy scene I hadn’t really SEEN on screen, so I wanted to share my point of view on it and how important it was for me and my growth as a person and as an actor.
O.F.F.: What was it like taking on the “triple threat” of actress/writer/producer for the project?
GA: Yeah (laughing)…ALWAYS overwhelming! It was never NOT overwhelming! It was great, though, really fulfilling, cause as an actor, you come and you go and then the film is in someone else’s hands. As a producer I really got to follow through and see how an entire film lives its life, how it gets birthed into the world. So to be the mother of that process is all the more rewarding, and I just learned so much! I mean, I never would have done it had I not had Jon (Goracy) directing it and he was really instrumental in the whole film coming together…with the casting, the A.D., and helping us. I didn’t do it alone, I did it with Jon and we’re equal partners in the producing of it. But I was clearing things on set, I was wardrobe mistress for the graduation shoot (laughing)…I definitely had a lot of different hats…we ALL did…everyone was extremely hard working. Even the actors brought their own wardrobe to set, I mean, we had a good wardrobe department, but we ALL pitched in where we could! We were small in numbers but definitely strong in spirit! It’s exciting to learn so much about how films are made and how much work it takes! It was exhausting, but like anything else that’s worthwhile, is hard work.
O.F.F.: Tell us about the character Keri Langdon you play in it
GA: (Laughs) Ok…well…she’s basically a lot like me! She’s sort of an exaggerated version of me. A little bit more cartoonish, perhaps…I hope! But I definitely love her because she’s honest, awkward, vulnerable, charismatic…and I enjoyed writing that part for myself, because I wanted to write a part for a woman, young woman, to play. Often the roles that are listed for actresses in their 20’s on breakdowns are for, you know, “the girlfriend”, “the prostitute”, “the wife”…all in relationship to men and usually as an object of desire in a very obvious way. I don’t go for those parts, I’m never up for those parts (laughs)! I don’t really lead with my sexuality in that way and I think that Kari’s interesting because she IS attractive by virtue of her obliviousness and her charm. I think that’s not often something you see being allowed in parts for young women.
O.F.F.: How was it working alongside other young actors like Rachel Brosnahan, Manish Dayal, Jason Ralph, and Thomas McDonell?
GA: It was really fun and that’s why I wanted to write an ensemble piece because I love working with other actors and I love the camaraderie…sort of the chaotic family it’s created when you’re living together for that intense period of time. I grew to love all of them, and they’re my friends. I learned a lot from them about how to be in the moment, to be vulnerable and open on camera. I observed them and was just blown away by their talent and the commitment they brought to this…even though they weren’t getting paid very much and it was like a low profile project, and I was a first-time director…they just put their careers in our hands! (Laughs) Rachel was commuting to Baltimore, she had a car during our shoot, she barely slept, and she had this amazing amount of energy, charisma, and commitment….I love them all dearly.
O.F.F.: What other projects are on the horizon or would you LIKE to be involved in?
GA: I’m writing a couple new things that I’d love to get produced, I’m auditioning still as an actress, and…I don’t know! It’s funny…it’s like you don’t really know…I’ll see a lot of it as, like, not waiting to see what happens with this, but a certain amount of it is “will be determined” by who sees this film and who wants to work together next, and how that all comes together. It’s always an organic process…with this movie, it started as a play and then morphed into something else….so I am trying to be open to what’s next and not force anything. I do want to direct a documentary about Terry Knickerbocker, who’s my acting teacher, as he taught Sam Rockwell, Boyd Holbrook, and couple of other really amazing actors. He’s a very interesting character and a fascinating person, so that’s something I want to do. But, documentaries take years to make, so I’m probably going to apply for grants and see where that goes and also continue to do creative writing work and get to a place where I’m ready to make another film. A lot of it is timing and your team and who you can bring together in the moment. Keeping my eyes and ears open!
O.F.F.: So, you feel a true sense of accomplishment in completing this film role and previous ones. Do you consider how a particular film (or films) might impact (or DO impact) those that watch it/them? Does that reaction (or lack of reaction), whether critics or fans, affect you in one form or another?
GA: I’m still figuring that out, as it’s all sort of just happening now. I really hope that this movie gets out there to as many people as possible, and I guess I am still a little anxious about that. Trying to promote it as much as I can and get the actors to promote it as much as they can despite their very busy schedules. It’s stressful, because there’s a lot of competing content online, in the theaters…you have Amazon and Netflix creating original series and people watch a lot of TV, WAY more TV than ever. And you have great movie stars doing TV, so there are just so many good things competing for people’s attention. Our project isn’t super flashy or super “namey” or super star-driven, even though I think they’re ALL stars…on their way to being stars for sure, especially with Rachel, as she’s doing a lot of BIG projects right now. Manish had a summer blockbuster, too. So as they continue to become more and more recognizable, it will be interesting to see what happens to this little movie and if more people start to become aware of it. And I hope that people laugh, that people are moved, and wanna call their friends and have a college reunion (laughs)! I hope it brings up positive feelings in people. I certainly think there’s a lot of negative, violent content out there, so I hope that this will contribute to a more peaceful and positive media culture. I think the world needs more optimistic storytelling sometimes so its not the “apocalyptic, the world is ending!” all the time.
O.F.F.: What advice would you give to someone looking to get into the film industry?
GA: Be creative, and make your own work. Don’t wait around for other people to give you permission, because they’ll tell you it’s impossible when it’s NOT impossible. You just have to be persistent and follow through. And if you’re someone who gets things done and likes to finish things then it doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. It’s all about the process and creating instead of sitting around waiting for things to perfect, or waiting for the screenplay to finally be ready. You just have to jump on the grenade and just go for it! Also, the second piece of advice I can give is value your relationships and value the people believe in you and also people in the business….try to be around the people whose work you admire…get close to those people and be near those who are doing what you want to be doing. Somehow, if it’s meant to be, it’ll work out. You have to maintain your relationships with people, because this business is entirely BUILT on relationships and friendships…people WANT to want to work with people and those they know are reliable, professional, and good people. So it’s very powerful to BE professional and classy…that goes a long way.
O.F.F.: OK, I always end with this one…What is YOUR favorite film of all time? Why?
GA: Oh no!…..oh no!…..I can’t answer this! I guess for the purpose of this interview…I have SO many favorite movies, it’s not even funny….I mean, “Annie Hall”, “Gone With The Wind”…it’s just I love movies! “Rushmore”, “The Royal Tenenbaums”. But I guess for the purpose of this interview I’ll say “The Big Chill” because it really inspired me to write this film because it’s so brilliantly captures the essence of the friends you make in college, the impact those people have on your trajectory as a human, that invaluable impact those people make on you at that stage in life, and how important those friendships are. And there’s Lawrence Kasdan, who used music and all those performances in that film that are just incredible.
Such a great, relaxed, and fun conversation with a truly gifted up and coming talent in the film industry. I felt completely honored for Ms. Adams to have taken the time to speak with me for this interview, and likewise to everyone who had a hand in bringing this all about (you know who you are…Caryn and Annick!). PLEASE “FOLLOW” the film’s Twitter account HERE, “LIKE” their Facebook Page HERE, and VISIT their Website HERE. I feel this was a prime example OF the creativity and talent that is really, as I call it, “beyond mainstream”. So take the time to seek out projects like this as I think you’ll find like I have been that sometimes, THESE are the films, the actors, the stories, and the characters that can TRULY move you and make an impact on the film industry in giving us something fresh, inspired, and that showcase the dedication to their art that these actors and actresses have.
As always, this is all for YOUR consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!