Check out Alison’s interview with New York Times during Sundance Film Festival.
I just saw “Sleeping With Other People,” and I was surprised by how much of a straight romantic comedy it was.
So was I. The script reads very dark, and maybe that’s because the character that I’m playing has so much going on emotionally. Also, the way the sex scenes were written — originally, the sex scene with Adam Scott didn’t have nudity, but it was much more graphic in nature and much longer. It was actually something that really excited me because I hadn’t really done anything like that and I thought it would be a safe place to start to explore, being directed and produced by a woman. We shot everything with Adam Scott first, and the tone of that stuff is so intense. Plus, I wasn’t on set for all the stuff they were shooting with Jason and other women. So I think when I finally saw a cut, I was like, “Oh, it’s a rom-com!” I was happy that it was accessible to people.
One thing that struck me was that, as much as this film is about romantic love, it also seemed to be about the tenuous nature of adult friendships. I can’t help but think that if these characters were younger, they probably would have just dated right away.
I think that’s a big part of the story. These two people reconnect after a long time apart and are immediately drawn to each other, but they have so much emotional baggage and fear that — especially because they like each other right off the bat again — they’re terrified of screwing it up. I also think a lot of the movie is about self-worth and people just not thinking that they’re worthy of being in a good relationship with someone who treats them well. It’s like, “Oh, this guy is so awesome. He’s got to just be a friend because I can’t be with an amazing person. I’ll kill it.”
Have you had any Jakes in your life?
I definitely have, but none that I’ve ended up dating. I’ve definitely had guy friends that I’ve gotten unexpectedly close with. I think it can be helpful to hear a male perspective or to just have a nurturing situation with someone from the opposite sex that you’re not thinking about trying to sleep with, and that you’re hoping isn’t just trying to get you in bed. But I’ve never ended up dating any of those guys. Not since my high-school sweetheart, who was my best friend before we dated.
Why do you think there are fewer romantic comedies being made now than, say, a decade ago?
I wonder if there was a backlash because they started to get too formulaic and people started to feel like, “well, you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.” At the same time, I think that people will always be drawn to the genre because it’s human nature to want to watch people fall in and out of love, but in a lighter capacity, where you don’t want to kill yourself. It’s good that people like Leslye are trying to think outside the box and focusing less on the formula and more on the characters and their story. When you look at a movie like “Sleepless in Seattle,” it’s like, his wife just died! There are heavy things there. She’s about to get married to this guy and she’s not sure if she wants to, but he’s not the worst guy in the world. You know what I mean? I feel like they just started to get too obvious. I know she’s going to eventually end up with the star of the movie.
The other interesting thing about this film is that your character is basically introduced as a sex addict. I think that may not have flown had you made this movie 15, 20 years ago.
Oh, definitely not. In the classic rom-coms, the lead characters wouldn’t get together until the end. That’s just not how men and women are these days. That’s not how people date. It was really nice to play a contemporary adult woman who is sexual. That’s a big part of who she is. I think modern women are very sexual, and they should be.
How important is it for you, when reading new scripts, that the character is in control of her own agency in that way? It would seem that between Lainey and Trudy on “Mad Men,” you’ve been fairly fortunate in that sense.
I’m not sure I look at it in that way. Obviously you’re always going to be drawn to a strong female character, but I think it’s the complexities of the character that excite me more. Trudy started out as just a supportive housewife, and then she sort of evolved into the Lady Macbeth of her and Pete’s relationship. You want to look for those other things that keep a character from being one-dimensional. Yes, it’s exciting if they’re strong, but I’m more excited when they can be vulnerable. Well-rounded is more appealing to me than just a strong female role model.
Will Trudy be coming back for the final episodes of “Mad Men”?
I don’t know! You’ll have to watch and see.
There must at least be a little frustration being on a show where you don’t know what, if anything, is going to happen to your character from week to week.
No! I love it so much. I will always feel so much gratitude toward Matt Weiner, because my character started as a one episode one-off, and by the time we were finishing shooting that episode I was coming back the next week and then stayed on the show for seven years. I don’t think I could ever find anything frustrating about it.