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July 2006
LADY IN THE WATER: An Interview with Paul Giamatti

LADY IN THE WATER: An Interview with Paul Giamatti
By Melissa Walters
July 17, 2006

What do you think about break –ups?

L. Wilson: Break-ups are never fun. I choose to always go back to Texas when I’m going through a tough break-up. The funny thing about the movie is that everyone can identify with either being broken up with or trying to weasel out of a relationship. It’s one of those things where it’s got tons of humor in it and tons of heartbreak. I think that’s the funny thing about the movie. The way Don wrote it, you get all those humorous aspects, as well as what’s the worst thing you can possibly imagine is the person you break up with being a superhero and being unhappy with you. That’s my take on it.

Thurman: I don’t know, break-ups or whatever happens, usually these things aren’t a big surprise, anything for the sake of drama like we have here the slightly whack-job character that gets kind of taken by surprise. What I find kind of touching in women and men, but in some of the women I’ve played, is when you try to hard and just ruin everything. She appealed to me, you know, the far-fetched stuff is far-fetched, but the really simple stuff, the desperate sort of neediness of someone just trying to make you like them. Like me!

L. Wilson: This is going to work

Thurman: Yes, this is going to work. [mimics squeezing an arm] Honeeey. I just enjoy that vulnerability of a really strong, bold character. I think most women identify with, men too, it’s like that thing where you’re just trying to squeeze, it’s like a bar of soap, the more you squeeze the further it flies. We’ve all been there, it’s just a desperate thing. ‘Do you like me? Pleeease like me! You must like me!’ Totally crazy, and just letting her go wild from there. In real life, it’s usually not that surprised, anyone sobbing over some surprise probably wasn’t paying attention.

Payne: I think it’s a credit to Uma’s performance and Ivan’s direction, as crazy and badly behaved as Jenny is, you feel a kind of sympathy for her, even though she’s acting out in terrible ways, you understand her mind set.

 


Do you think Jenny takes man-bashing to a whole new level?

Thurman: I think it’s that funny thing of what you do when something really bad happens. Real women, what do we do? We pretend it’s not happening.

L. Wilson: I’ve got some exes out there who are going to be watching saying, ‘Kill his ass. Kill him girlfriend.’

Thurman: It’s that thing, after you’ve come out of a room when you’ve been humiliated or something really crappy has happened to you and you wish you could’ve said this or that, and you’re still mad? That’s where she lives, right there, except she’s still in the room, because she can fly right back there.

And then she throws a shark in there…

Thurman: I think shark-chucking should really be made part of vernacular. ‘Watch out for her, she’s shark-chucking today, you better step back.’ The images, Ivan put it so well, because when you look at these things you look at the heart in them, that’s what actually makes it work. It’s not just funny and glib and great, but underneath the little ideas you find what’s real, and then take what’s unreal and you have the beauty of the statement, ‘Imagine a woman so broken-hearted that she flies out to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, plucks a Great White shark from the sea and throws it at people, that’s your drama. It’s funny, but underneath it, that’s passion.

Reitman: It’s real emotion


Can you talk a bit about the casting of Anna Faris?

Reitman: I had to promise that I wasn’t going to throw her around as much as she’s used to in the ‘Scary Movies.’ Of course I ended up throwing her around a bit, but I’ve been a big fan of hers for a number of years and thought she has a much broader range than people have given her credit for and I thought I believe her as the person who’s working in the architectural office. She’s certainly beautiful enough to be attractive to any man, I thought she’s sort of the quintessential girl next door, the woman you’d want to bring home to mom and I thought she had the acting chops to do this, even though she’d done mostly broad comedies.


Did your father’s Buddhist associations have any impact on you personally or professionally?

Thurman: Personally, I don’t even know. Do any of us know how parents have influenced us, short of impact?

L. Wilson: I need to check-in with my mom on that…

Thurman: I was lucky to grow up in a family that stayed together, they’re smart, interesting people, we’re very close still.


Have you ever had any women have a cat fight over you?

R. Wilson: I don’t know that I’ve had women actually attracted to me. So Luke, why don’t you take this one?

L. Wilson: I have not had that happen. That’s why it was fun to do the movie.

Thurman: Women don’t do this. Only on TV.


There was an article in the newspaper yesterday that said some of the British cast members might be showing up this season, can you tell us anything about that?

R. Wilson: I hadn’t heard that, that’s news to me. But I do know that Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have written an episode for us for this next season. You see, I’m on a TV show and this movie, you guys are great with you’re movie business, but television, God, it’s so great. 10 million people a week watch me do my thing… I’ll shut-up now.


Was there ever any concern of G-girl being too unsympathetic or acting un-hero-like?

Reitman: Finding the right balance for the character is a very tricky thing. What was so great about working with Uma is that she was totally fearless with her choices, and the range of choices she gave us in any particular sequence and bravely left it to me to figure out in the editing room at some point. I’d often say ,‘Okay, just take this one way over the top and see where it goes, play this one as if there was no comedy in the movie whatsoever.’ Just try to find the right balance. I don’t think there are, even the so-called ‘super villains’ there are no real villains in this movie because it’s a relationship movie. Relationships are about the dynamics and whether they work out or not, who’s appropriate for whomever,

Thurman: We walked a very careful line with that. There was a lot of pressure, when I got involved, there was a great draft that Ivan had worked on with Don and then there was a new draft where she was actually even more sort of villain-ized and awful and
you don’t want to take the punch out of it, you don’t want to be ditzy about it and be all likeable because that’s really boring and you guys get that every day, are force fed it. Meanwhile the fun of it is that she’s wicked, so it was trying to find the humanity, make sure the character stayed motivated and that’s what we got out of the movie.


MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND opens on July 21, 2006

 

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