THE ACTOR’S CORNER – Jess Weixler (PETER AND VANDY)

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on March 27, 2009

Jess Weixler was the girl from TEETH. If you are one of the film fest faithful (or frankly, even if you weren’t) that’s what you heard. “Wait, a minute wasn’t that the film where the girl’s hooha had teeth?” And if you did more than just recoil at the thought of the film’s premise or giggle like a teenager at the idea and saw the film, you likely had a gotcha moment. And much of that was due to Jess Weixler and specifically her level, yet emotional performance. And now, in PETER AND VANDY, she follows up with a tortured romance opposite solid-as-they-come Jason Ritter. And when we say tortured, we mean the kind of torture that evolves when two people are not made for each other. Yet still love one another. It’s a simple equation that just doesn’t add up. And one of the reasons that ultimately make it tangibly tragic is that longing to make the relationship math work that Weixler conveys. I’ve been there. And you’ve been there. And Weixler does a damn fine job of reminding us how much it could suck while still holding on to the hope that it could all still be good again.

There is an admirable quality about the way the characters you and Jason Ritter play in PETER AND VANDY are presented that is more than willing to delve into the mismatched at best or unlikable at worst. How tough is it as an actor to fight against our natural urge to be liked or seen as attractive?
Thank you. Yeah, I would say the urge to be liked is one of the harder things about acting. You personally want to be liked, but what people/ characters want at a given point in time is not always admirable. What is likable about everyone is usually not the full story. Every character I play I want to be whole and flawed, but what’s good, is that usually people are trying to make their lives better, there is just no quick answer for that. Yeah – sometimes when I see myself do stuff on screen I think ‘yuck, what is your problem?’.

Was there an official ceremony where Zooey Deschanel handed you the indie girl crown she received from Parker Posey or has she not willingly surrendered it yet?
Ha! I would be hard pressed to say that Parker Posey or Zooey Deschanel have taken off their crowns, nor should they. I believe they are both still the queens of their own indie universes. I just want to hang with them.

Jay DiPietro has said that PETER AND VANDY is “just as much about what the characters are thinking as it is about what they are doing”. What do you think he meant by that?
I guess what Jay meant is that these two are not always saying what they are thinking. And very much like in life, you can usually tell what they are thinking anyway, it’s just hard for the characters to admit it to themselves or each other. I hope the audience can tell what we are thinking.

Your roles in TEETH, PETER AND VANDY and ALEXANDER THE LAST all share a degree of fearlessness. Have you turned down a role yet because you thought it was too risky?
Thank you again. I have not turned down a role because I thought it was too “risky”. But in my mind the idea of taking a risky role is, reading a script and thinking, “Oh, this is kinda bad and cheesy, but I’m gonna do it anyway because I need the money, and just hope it turns out”. That is risky.

Having top lined a series of films already at this stage in your career, what is the percentage to scripts being offered to you outright versus projects you are asked to audition for?
Uhmm, I’m not being thrown offers or anything, I audition for most everything aside from stuff that involves friends. PETER AND VANDY is an exception because I just took a meeting with Jay and he must have thought to himself that he trusted me for whatever reason. I’m very grateful for that. Honestly, auditioning is the pits. I’ve spent a decade trying to convince myself I like it, but I really think it depends on how people are wired. It’s a bit of a nightmare personally to try and smash lines in my head for a day or two and then walk into a room and act. I just think sometimes it takes longer to digest; so much of my energy goes into thinking “what’s my next line”. People don’t act in a movie or play the way they act in an audition room (at least not from what I’ve seen). For most people the idea of getting offered something is adream come true because it’s so difficult.

Choose which cross comparison people actually have made on IMDB that you are most happy with:
A) Meryl Streep and Kate Hudson
B) Natalie Portman and Alicia Slverstone
C) Kate Winslet and Sarah Polley
D) Joan Cusack and Sharon Stone
E) Heather Graham and Juliette Lewis

I’m totally flattered by most of those comparisons and I’m a fan of at least someone in every letter, but if I had to pick, weather it’s at all true or not … C. They are both amazing…Sarah Polley has a reigning indie crown too, right? I mean she directed AWAY FROM HER. Wow.

PETER AND VANDY screens Saturday, March 28 at 5:30PM @ NorthPark 7 and Sunday, March 29 at 10:30PM @ NorthPark 7.

Jess Weixler will attend the first screening and participate in a Q&A afterwards.

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