It seems like former cast members of The OC are having a bit of a renaissance lately. Ben McKenzie’s on Southland, Chris Carmack is heading to Nashville, and Mischa Barton is in the new film A Resurrection. Adam Brody attributes the attention to 2013 marking 10 years since we got to know Seth Cohen and his crew. We caught up with Brody at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, where he is starring in Some Girl(s) from writer Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men). The drama has all the classic elements of a LaBute film — the intimacy of a play, loads of dark humor, and a manipulative protagonist.
It follows Brody’s character, a writer, who on the eve of his wedding decides to go back and rehash old relationships by visiting his former flames. Kristen Bell, Zoe Kazan, and Emily Watson costar as some of his past loves. Unlike comedies that have used a similar trope (see: High Fidelity), Some Girl(s) is dark, and much like the 2005 play it grew out, puts an emphasis on each relationship scene by almost being a movie unto itself.
Read on to find out what Brody and director Daisy von Scherler Mayer (The Carrie Dairies, Mad Men), had to say about the film and check out an exclusive clip.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The film feels like a play, confined and intimate. Had you done anything like that before?
ADAM BRODY: No, I hadn’t even done a play! These were 18 to 20-page scenes. I’d never done anything like this and it was really, really fun. I just think [Neil LaBute] is such a great writer, so we had the benefit of these being scenes with layers and good twists and turns, and good plot reversals — versus just talking. You could fill a page as a writer, but this has some great, just solid, old-fashioned story telling underneath it all and I think that’s what keeps it riveting.
You had the benefit of being in scenes with all the actresses, but it doesn’t look like they got to meet each other or film together at all.
AB: They didn’t, and we shot it out of order, too. But I guess I did have more of a bird’s-eye view than they did.
DAISY VON SCHERLER MAYER: We did one really intense rehearsal day with each actress and then we filmed after that, so that process happened four times. It was great in the sense that the actors brought so much preparation to that day. Because the emotional work was already there, it was like a shaping process. It was intense, but it made the next three days go so much easier because it wasn’t the piecemeal of normal filmmaking. None of us had worked on a scene that was this long – and they were longer than what you saw.
AB: We’d go, ‘We have eight hours, how do we want to block this, how does it feel, how do we make it dynamic?’ and make just a hundred choices a day.
The film takes place in several different cities, but you’re always in a hotel room, so it doesn’t seem to matter where you are, really.
AB: To me, [the setting] can almost be in his head. Not that it is, but he’s talking to one girl about rehashing history, arguing with her, defending himself. And it almost could be in his head. And they’re in the most intimate space as well, they’re in a bedroom, they’re not meeting for coffee.
The only other movies that I can think of where the main character goes back to meet his exes are rom coms, like High Fidelity. I kept thinking something would be funny here. What gives?
AB: [Laughing] It’s like Kill Bill. You hear people in it, you hear the plot and you think High Fidelity, maybe this is some Nick Hornby action. And it’s very funny and there are somewhat romantic parts, but most of the humor is dark and he’s so much more interested in the ugly part of it. So it’s so tonally far away from those movies to me. It’s so uncomfortable and ugly.
DVM: I think it’s a different take than other work Neil’s done because to me this man is such a relatable guy in the current day. Everyone I’ve shown it to has said they’ve met this guy, that they’ve had this relationship, that they know him because he seems so sensitive and sweet and he’s actually so narcissistic and manipulative.
It seems similar in a way to LaBute’s The Shape of Things, where Rachel Weisz’s character, the woman, is the manipulative one.
DVM: That Rachel Weisz character wants to destroy that man, she has an agenda. And what’s interesting about Adam in this role is he’s doing the same thing but you get seduced by it.
AB: And that character to me [Weisz] is self aware in a way that he’s not. It could be argued how much he’s aware of what he’s doing and not. I take the view that he thinks he’s doing something that’s fairly altruistic.