Post Magazine

January 2018

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Page 17 of 43 16 POST JANUARY 2018 DIRECTOR'S CHAIR ver the past decade, actress Greta Gerwig has appeared in some 40 movies, cementing her grow- ing reputation as one of Hollywood's brightest and most engaging new stars. Her acclaimed performances include starring roles in Mike Mills' 20th Century Women alongside Annette Bening and Elle Fanning (see Post's January 2017 Director's Chair), for which she received a Critics' Choice Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress; Pablo Larrain's Jackie; Todd Solondz's Wiener-Dog; Rebecca Miller's Maggie's Plan and Noah Baumbach's Mistress America, a comedy that she co-wrote with the director, which premiered to rave reviews at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Gerwig's previous collaborations with Baumbach include her breakout and critically-acclaimed role in Greenberg (their first project together) and Frances Ha, which earned her Golden Globe and Broadcast Film Critics Association Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Motion Picture. Now, with Lady Bird, Gerwig has stepped behind the camera and made an assured and polished directorial debut with the coming-of-age story. Lady Bird looks at both the humor and pathos in the turbulent bond between a mother and her teenage daughter. Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) fights against — but is exactly like — her wildly loving, deeply opinionated and strong- willed mom (Laurie Metcalf), a nurse working tirelessly to keep her family afloat after Lady Bird's father (Tracy Letts) loses his job. Set in Sacramento, CA, in 2002, amidst a rapidly shifting American economic landscape, Lady Bird is an affectionate and affecting look at family relationships, and has been attracting a lot of awards buzz for its writer/director. Here, in an exclusive Post interview, Gerwig talks about making the film, how her partner Noah Baumbach and other directors helped her prepare, and why she loves post. Did you write this thinking, 'I want to direct it too'? "I've always wanted to direct and be a writer/director, and I didn't go to film school, so I knew that all the time I spent on sets was like my film education. I did a lot of different things as well as acting, because most of the early films were so low budget. I'd co-write, hold the boom, operate the camera, edit and so on, and it was all great training. When I finished this script, I realized this was the time to do it and jump in." What sort of themes were you interested in exploring through this? "It's about family and home and growing up, and it's set in Sacramento where I grew up. I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do in the script, and I spent a very long time writing and honing it, and then I didn't do any improvisation on set. I learned a lot from Noah in that way, as he was so rigorous about the writing and keeping to the script. So the big thing was just bringing my script to life, and it's such a collaboration. Once you have your DP and production designer and editor, you come up with so much more than you ever could on your own. But the movie you see is the movie that was on the page." How did you prepare for directing your first film? "I talked to a ton of people — directors I've worked with and ones I haven't. I already had a notebook full of things I was going to steal from other people's sets and how they did it. And I got so much advice — sometimes very specific, sometimes very general. If anything, I think I over-pre- pared, but I think I'll always do that. The big thing I learned is that anything you can prepare ahead of the shoot, do it — as you shouldn't have to think about it on the day. Things will come up you didn't anticipate, so you always have to deal with unforeseen problems, but you need to maximize your time on the set. And Noah never allows cell phones on his sets, and I did the same, which makes everyone just focus on the scene. And Mike Mills does this great thing where everyone on the set, including himself, wears name- tags, and I borrowed that. It means that everyone, even an actor who's just there for a day or two, gets to know who they're working with. It's a subtle but important thing, I feel." Did being an actress affect the way you directed and approached it? "Definitely. I love actors and I have so much respect for what they do, and how vulnerable they are. So I tried to not make them feel rushed ever, and that there was a chance to do it again if needed. Also, I'm very sensitive about the whole auditioning GRETA GERWIG ON LADY BIRD BY IAIN BLAIR O FROM ACCLAIMED NEW ACTRESS TO DIRECTOR DP Sam Levy shot Lady Bird.

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