Noah Baumbach does more takes than any director I've ever worked with. He runs a very quiet set and he runs a very hard working set. He has such an intense level of dedication to what's happening that he cultivates a group of people around him who have an equal level of dedication. Nobody asks, "When is lunch?" That's just not part of our sets. It's complete immersion. He has a 'no cell phone' rule. Nobody checks their cell phone. Nobody reads on set. It's like, "If you're there, you're there. If you're not on board with that, don't work on this movie."
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I love New York, but it's a rough city. It's not dangerous now the way it was in the 70's or the 80's, but it's still a rough city. It's hard to hack it there. Life is harder than it is on the West Coast. To be able to deal with that, you have to have a lot of aspirational feelings pinned on being there.
There's an economy in sports that I always think is a useful metaphor for acting. You have an objective. You're trying to win, and of course, you want to do well. You want to use good techniques so you enforce it, but also you don't do things you don't have to do. It's very economical, and I think that in acting the most economical way through a scene is always the best. It's active. There is the sense of the fight and you want to win.
I think any break-up from a long relationship has this accompanying feeling of who am I without this person. You feel like a half-person because you've integrated yourself into an idea of a couple for so long, and then teasing that out and finding out who you are without them, it just takes a while. It feels like an amputation.
When I did plays in high school and college, I never remember memorizing my lines, but once I had blocking, I had all my lines memorized. Once I had movement associated with words, it was fine. Before I had blocking, it was just text on a page. Once it became embodied, it was much easier.
It's so hard for people to give up their cell phones or their ideas of being connected to everything all the time in order to get an immersive experience. That's the best way to make art. It's almost like you have to treat it like you're going into a submarine, and Noah Baumbach totally agrees with that. There's not a real other life that happens outside of the movie while it's being shot, which I like.
I was a ballet dancer. I did other kinds of dance but ballet was my great love. But then it became clear, when I was 12, that my body wasn't going to be right. That's always a heartbreaking moment because there's nothing you can do about that. Your body is just not right. You don't have enough turnout. You're not built properly.
I'm not someone who's an immigrant who's struggling in that way, but between New York and L.A., I had someone tell me very early on, "If you're going to be broke anywhere, it's better to be broke in L.A. At least the weather is nice." I was like, "You're right." I didn't take them up on that.
I have very intense feelings of joy or sadness. I used to not like that so much because I was worried it was girly, and I wanted to be more stoic. I think this happens a lot. When you're 16, there are qualities you wish you didn't have, and then when you're 30, you're like, 'Thank God I have that; otherwise, I'd be living less vividly.'
There's a grace period where being a mess is charming and interesting, and then I think when you hit around 27, it stops being charming and interesting, and it starts being kind of pathological, and you have to find a new way of life. Otherwise, you're going to be in a place where the rest of your peers have been moving on, and you're stuck.
I'm really interested in trying to tell stories about women that don't involve romantic components. That's so much a part of the way we feel about female characters and their needs that it feels like it's built in - but I'd like to find a way that it's not. There are so many more stories than that.
I don't really decide what the core of the story is before I write. I write to figure out what the story is. And I think the characters end up talking to you and telling you what they want to be doing and what is important to them. So in some ways, your job is to listen as much as it is to write.
Woody Allen was the reason I wanted to move to New York City and one of the reasons I wanted to make films. I felt that I understood his films, and I love them so much. When you're starting out, certainly, you have this sense of wanting to talk back to people who have influenced you, and I always wanted to talk back to Woody Allen.
There's something that happens around 27 and 28, when people start coupling off more aggressively or changing their lives according to what their economic prospects are, and not keeping themselves on par with the group - you realise suddenly that they're not your family. And I think that's very painful.
I wrote the script to 'Lady Bird,' and it really came out of a desire to make a project about home - like, what the meaning of home is, and place. I knew Sacramento very well, obviously, growing up there, and I felt like the right way to tell a story of a place was through a person who's about to leave it.