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Hey kids, the stars and director of the new family drama, Lymelife came round to chat. Sit in as Rory Culkin, Emma Roberts, Kieran Culkin, Jill Hennessy and director Derick Martini talk about family dysfunction, the Long Island accent, Twitter, working with siblings and Alec Baldwin.




Kieran Culkin and Director Derick Martini


The Lady Miz Diva:  Derick, Lymelife is a real labour of love for you, itís been incubating for a long time.  How you know that Lymelife was going to be a quality film?  You werenít happy with the previous feature you wrote, Smiling Fish & Goat on Fire.

Derick Martini:  I think Kieran liked Smiling Fish better than me, I know Rory {Culkin} did.  Well, you know, because you do a lot of things in between that are more for the money, unfortunately sometimes; TV and some other rewrites and stuff like that.  I just didnít want to put myself and my actors through a movie that was mediocre, that no one cared about because thatís like a curse, so it has to mean something to you.  If it means something to me, hopefully itíll mean something to my actors and then when we have to do press and we have to go to the festivals itís a lot easier because weíre all proud of the film.  As opposed to Smiling Fish, my brother {co-writer Steven Martini} and I were very young and we were kinda proud of it, but not really, not like this. I think we pulled off a tremendous amount of work in a short amount of time on a little budget. Itís all about performances, this picture for me and thatís really the most important thing.  So, Iím most proud of my actors in this.


LMD:  Have most of your actors have been along for most, if not all of the ride?

DM:  I dragged Kieran along!

{Kieran Culkin laughs}


LMD:  Kieran what caused you to stick with this project?

Kieran Culkin:  Itís very simple for me.  It was just so easy for me.  When you talk about overcoming hurdles; I never looked at it in terms of that, itís always just about how good the script is and how good I think this movie can be.  It was just easy; I donít have to think about it. I did the script lab with them 8 years ago and then by the time it was becoming a real movieÖ {to DM} How long ago was that even?

DM: You mean when it fell apart?

KC: {Laughs} Yeah!

DM:  It fell apart on us once, the day before shooting. I was trying to get Kieran to come to setÖ

{Both laugh

DM:  It was a blessing that it fell apart cos I wouldnít have had Kieran; he wasnít available at the time.  I compromised on that role, in my opinion.  Now, the way it came together, everything happens for a reason and Iím really glad it fell apart, I wasnít at the time obviously, I was devastated, but now I got the cast that I really want and all the performances are in my opinion, stellar.  To me, it was blessing that it fell apart then.

KC:  Rory grew up a couple of years in there, too, and I think that helped it.  He matured a bit as an actor and as a person, so I think that really helped it a lot.


LMD:  Kieran was working with your brother a different experience than working with another actor?  Thereís a lot of honesty in your reactions to each otherís characters.

KC:  Thereís no bullshitting that guy.  He knows me better than most anybody on this planet, so you just canít bullshit.  You canít phone in anything Ė not that I would ever try to do that, butÖ

{DM: Laughs}

KC:  But I would say some dialog and I would look at him and I would see in his eyes, just something behind there was, ďAw, you know Iím full of shit.  All right, all right, let me do that again!Ē So, you really have to step up your game.  Iím sure it was kind of the same for him.


LMD:  Derick, without giving too much away, did you need that ending?

DM:  Yes, it had to be that ending.  Had to be.


LMD:  Why?

DM:  I just think that storyís told.


LMD:  As opposed to a simpler, happy ending, less open to interpretation?

DM:  Sure, it could have been a happy ending, but I think at that point the story that we set out to tell was told and I want the audience to walk away with their own take on it.  It doesnít fit within the tone of the movie to have a different kind of ending.



Rory Culkin


The Lady Miz Diva:  Rory, your big brother Kieran just told me he knew his work had to be really honest with you.  Did you also feel that way or did working with him make you step up your game?

Rory Culkin:  I tried to avoid thinking about it.  I try not to over analyse anything because once you start thinking and once it starts getting into your head itís not good and I didnít want to collapse under the pressure.


LMD:  What was it about Scott that you identified with that made you want to play him?

RC:  I had the script for four or five years before shooting, so it was always on my nightstand.  Once the time came to do it, it was like second nature to me.  Again, I didnít think about it too much.


LMD:  Is that how you like to go in, learn your lines and come in sort of a blank slate, or lots of rehearsal and structure?

RC:  Derickís very dedicated, so we read it 8 or 9 times before shooting.  He wanted to make sure I was off-book and everything, so he could play around.  But I donít know any techniques; Iím not a solid enough actor to have techniques.


LMD:  Derick seems open to letting his ensemble interpret the characters as they wished.

RC:  It was great; we read it so many times beforehand, so I was completely off-book. The only reason he wanted that is so I could stray away from it and always know the skeleton and always come back to the core of it whenever I felt unsafe.  The script is the safe zone.  He wanted me to be a part of the process the entire time, casting and everything.  Once we got done filming two months later, I went to his place in LA and he showed me the rough cut and Iíve seen so many different cuts of it, the 3Ĺ -hour cut.  So, heís very cool that way.


LMD:  Can you talk about working with Emma Roberts?  Did you guys bond outside of the shoot because you have a lovely chemistry together?

RC:  Thanks.  We had a couple days rehearsal, a cast dinner and then we just kind of jumped into it.  I mean, weíre both kind of easy to get along with, so that was that.


LMD:  And shooting the sex scene?

RC:  It was awkward enough cos it was 6 in the morning when we shot it, which was weird, cos we were both very sleepy. {Derick} closed the set off and it was just the three of us in the room and for rehearsal, he was like ďOkay, guys, go ahead.Ē  I was like, ďGo ahead?Ē  He left us in the room and let us kind of rehearse it on our own.  I wanted to see how comfortable she was, how far she wanted to go, but she was a sport man, she was really cool.


LMD:  Lymelife has received such praise on the festival circuit, has that been surprising?

RC:  Definitely. I mean, at the time I had a hard time imagining what the poster would look like, or any sort of soundtrack or anything.  Itís ridiculous, Iím seeing posters in Chinatown and stuff, itís crazy.


LMD:  What do you think people will take away from Lymelife?

RC:  Itís about learning from your parentís mistakes and everyone can relate to that.



Jill Hennessy


The Lady Miz Diva:  Thereís a poignant scene in Lymelife when Brenda is telling her son, Scott not to blame his father for all the troubles in their marriage, that ďit takes two to tango.Ē  I wasnít sure exactly what Brenda had done that was so bad?

Jill Hennessy:  I think with her it was trying not to acknowledge that he had been cheating on her for so long.  And from what Derick told me, her background was very Catholic, and the number one priority was keeping the family together at all costs and Iím sure there was a debate there in her mind for years of, ĎDo I confront him?  If I confront him, maybe heíll leave me and my kids will be without a father?  If I just become a better mother, maybe I can make all this go away.  Maybe heíll love me again; maybe itís my fault because Iím not attractive enough.  Iím not a good enough mom.í  So, these are all the things that I had going through my head, which are natural insecurities, which I can even relate to to some extent, where you blame yourself for so much stuff.  And then at one point you realise, ĎOh, thatís not helping anything.  I could sit here and blame myself till I die and thatís not going to do crap at this point.í  Then you have to make change and change is freaking terrifying, which is what I love about her character, she goes through such a 180 in this film, but always for great reasons. She loves her kids desperately.  She loves her husband, but theyíve run off on different paths at one point, where he was very concerned about having the Mercedes and having the right house, and she would ratherÖ  There are a lot of pieces that are missing that were in the script that arenít in the film anymore, that explain her background; coming from Queens and how she was the most-tanned girl in high school and sheíd go up on the roof of her house to sunbathe in November and December.  How she used to sunbathe with her older son and this crazy guy across the street would look at them.  That one line actually made it into the film, but there was a whole other part of that scene and a whole bunch of other scenes where you got a little more information about her background.  But as far as doing anything wrong, I think theyíre all trying to find ways to do things right, even Alecís character, ĎIf I just provide for my family, things will go better.í  And heís got that scene with his son where heís trying to explain to his son and he realises his own shortcomings.


LMD:  Can you talk about working with your younger cast?

JH:  Thatís the great part about this job is that Kieran and Rory and Emma, especially, too, I had so much working with these guys, cos you donít work.  Thereís no work involved.  Youíre listening and youíre going by whatever feelings you have and to be honest.  I love those guys.  I feel like theyíre part of my family, Emma, Rory and Kieran. And Iím playing Kieran and Roryís mom, but I was hanging out with them and I had my three-month old baby with me, so Iíve just given birth and Iíve got two sons, and here I am playing a woman with two much older sons who are pulling away from me.  Maybe it was the hormones, I was still nursing, but the thought of itÖ it still upsets me to even talk about it.  I got to know them and their mom a little bit and they went out of their way to help me with my baby, Emma, Rory and Kieran; theyíre playing with my older son, theyíre teaching him how to box.  They made it a joy!  Itís intimidating when youíre working on an independent film; thereís no trailers, youíre changing in church basements and school nurseís offices and homes that people would loan out, and I had the best time on this.  I love these guys to the point where scenes where it wasnít written that I should cry or be upset, I would get really upset.  Thereís Rory saying ďMaybe you shouldíve asked God for a daughter,Ē that statement cut me to the core!  Because theyíre so honest, I think these guys are incapable of a false moment on camera.  Which is the kind of acting I like to watch and to work with. 


LMD:  I think itís really interesting that thereís no villain in the piece, not even Cynthia Nixonís character is portrayed as a heartless home wrecker.

JH:  Oh yeah, totally, you see her desperation and her exhaustion.  Everything she does, too, is to try to control.  Sheís afraid of her daughter dying of Lyme disease and going to work because her husband canít and trying to be affectionate to him, but not getting anything back. Tussling his hair and he doesnít respond.  All these disconnects, the effort at connecting, but all these disconnects with everybody, the parents, the kids, Rory and Emma, too.  Sheís so in that category of no BS too, not a false moment, sheís spectacular.  I just have fun watching this movie every time I see it.


LMD:  Whereíd you learn the Queens/Long Island accent?

JH:  {Laughs} There was a guy they hired on the film to help us with the Long Island accent and I actually know a lot of people from Long Island, so I was like, ĎCool I actually have a chance to do one.í  Iíve done the Jersey accent in different films, but I love the Long Island accent. Itís a totally different approach to vowel sounds, it incorporates a little bit of what was really popular in journalism in the 60ís, like what Jackie Kennedy used to do a little bit, Marilyn Monroe to some extent, and if you watch female journalists in particular, {demonstrates accent} Itís sort of a long vowel - even Barbara Walters does it.  Not that thatís the accent I used for this, but there a piece of it in the present-day Long Island accent in your approach to  O-U sounds, or just O sounds in general.  There was dialect coach, I think I was the only one who was psyched about it, I love stuff like that, he was great.  Alecís from Long IslandÖ


LMD:  Did he have to take lessons?

JH:  Well, he got the CD!  But I think I was the only one that was really psyched. Cynthia, too, was into it.  I always welcome that, thatís always fun as hell.


LMD:  Whatís next for you, Jill?

JH:  Iíve got an album coming out. Itís an album of songs that I wrote, all the music, all the lyrics.  Itíll be available on ITunes at the end of maybe or the beginning of June.  Itís called Ghost in my Head.  Itís me on acoustic guitar with four other musicians three from Austin, and a friend of mine who played drums from Skid Row.  Mike Mills {from REM} sings backup vocals on a couple of songs and plays organ.  Marti Maguire from the Dixie Chicks plays fiddle on a song.  My husband plays pennywhistleÖ  People I know from Texas, Iíve been singing and playing guitar for friends down there for year and theyíve been pushing me to write and I finally wrote which was a terrifying, cathartic experience.  So, itís sort of been my lifeís work for the last four years, and yeah itís finally coming out.



Emma Roberts


The Lady Miz Diva:  What made your character, Adrianna, relatable to you? What made you want to play her?

Emma Roberts:  She really is like your typical girl.  I think everyone knew an Adrianna growing up.  I can relate to her because I can remember being at age 15 or 16, where youíre kind of frustrated cos you donít know if you want to be older, or if you have to act your age, or if youíre supposed to act sexy or cute, or what.  I could definitely relate to that aspect of her.


LMD:  Youíve got some racy work here between flashing your bra at Rory and your sex scene together.  What was the encouragement behind these bold manoeuvres?

ER:  I just really loved the material and I loved the people that were involved with the script, and I just really wanted to be a part of it.  And Iím 18 now, so I think that itís appropriate and time to do something more mature.


LMD:  You have a devoted following amongst young female audiences, who watched you on Unfabulous, Nancy Drew and Aquamarine.  Did you look at the script as sort of a statement that you were ready to do more mature work?

ER:  Yeah, that was part of it.  Iíd just finished Hotel for Dogs and I wanted to do something completely different, and the script just came out of nowhere and I read it and I really liked it.  I met Derick and I really liked him and for the most part the cast was set and I thought the cast was brilliant.  It was something I really wanted to be a part of and when you want to be a part of something like that, youíll do whatever they want you to do.


LMD:  So there was no hesitation?

ER:  No.  I mean, I was kind of nervous a little bit, but not hesitant.


LMD:  Are you at all worried what the backlash might be after doing a role thatís so much more adult than your previous films?  What do you say to your young fans or their parents who might be shocked to see you smoking pot and having sex?

ER:  Well I donít think the kids who are fans of Nancy Drew and Unfabulous will be seeing this movie, so I donít think I have to worry abut answering to their parents {Laughs}.  I mean, Iím not saying Iím never gong to do something for that fanbase again, but at the same time, I am getting older.


LMD:  Your upcoming film, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, was filmed in Japan.  What was it like to shoot there?

ER:  It was crazy!  Iíd never been.  It was really fun.  It was not what I expected, but I had a really good time there.


LMD:  Your scenes with Timothy Hutton as Adriannaís father are very warm and sweet though Adrianna is growing up and pulling away from being Daddyís Little Girl.  Was that dynamic in the script, or something that came out of the two of you playing off each other?

ER:  Yeah, that kind of just came out.  It was also in the script though, from the beginning Adrianna connected more like her dad than her mom.  She doesnít want to be like her mom.


LMD:  There are so many websites that follow yourself and other young actors.  Do you spend a lot of time on the internet?

ER:  Yeah, I spend a lot of time on the internet. Iím not a blogger really, though.  I donít blog.


LMD:  No Twitter for you?

ER:  What is Twitter?  I donít know what Twitter is.  Everyone keeps inviting me to Twitter, and everyoneís going on about Twittering and Tweeting and this whole thing, and I just donít understand it.  And theyíre like, ďOh, itís a continuous Facebook status,Ē and I said, ďWell, I donít want one more way that people can see what Iím doing.Ē And what if I forget to update it?  Then people start freaking out, ĎWhat are you doing?í


LMD:  Youíve said before that you really enjoy independent films, which are some of your favourites?

ER:  I loved Juno and Little Miss Sunshine. Those are obvious ones, but they were really great.   I rented one on Netflix, really random on Rules of Attraction, which was based on one of my favourite books by Bret Easton Ellis.  The movie was really cool, really weird, but a really cool movie.


LMD:  Is that how you see your career headed, doing more independent films?

ER:  I have no idea, weíll see.  I love doing independents.  Studio movies are fun, too.  I really like Gwyneth Paltrow a lot as far as career.  Sheís done a lot of small movies, but sheís also done a lot of great big movies, and sheís just a really great actress.


~ The Lady Miz Diva

March 30th, 2009





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Film stills courtesy of Screen Media Films





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