Greenberg's Greta Gerwig: America's Next "It Girl"?
The star of Noah Baumbach's latest on her rise from Mumblecore to Hollywood
The frankness of the depiction of sex in Greenberg and the matter-of-factness of an abortion are things we rarely see in American films. Has there been any backlash against you or the film because of that?
The abortion and the way it's dealt with in the film, there's been surprisingly little backlash, which really speaks to changing culture and the way we think about women's choices and health. But I will say that the sex caused much more of a stir than the abortion, which was interesting to me. I've come to realise I have a very unconventional view of nudity and sex in films. I would never do nudity or sex that felt like my body was being presented as something to be lusted after or as an ideal of feminine beauty or as something that's titillating but just as a body that you live in. I think that for me the reason that the biggest backlash has been around the nudity and the sex is that women's bodies are still really problematic for people, that people don't know how to feel about them, that there's still this dichotomy in people's heads where women are either wives or nuns or whores. So if you're not a wife of a nun, you must be a whore [laughs]. But as far as sex scenes go, it's just not portrayed realistically that often. But it's also hilarious. It's such a funny scene and I think that if it makes people uncomfortable it's because people relate. I think it's great that it made it into a somewhat mainstream film. It's always a thrill to think you're getting one over on people.
Are you wary of the "It girl" term? A.O. Scott of The New York Times has said you "may well be the definitive screen actress of [your] generation".
Oh, my God. I saw the piece and I was bowled over. I couldn't believe that he had thought about me that much. But I kinda couldn't read it. I got about one paragraph into it and I thought, 'My God, I don't know what's coming but I can't fully process it.' But how can you be tired of someone saying you're an It Girl? It's exciting and it's lovely and it'll pass. What's more important is that it hopefully means I can do more, keep working as an actress and being involved with films and being engaged with what cinema is right now, which is a true love. Pile on the titles. One day I'll be a fallen It Girl.
I think Parker Posey's probably still happy with her life.
Yeah! I think so. You kinda can't buy into any of it, the good or the bad. A friend of mine who's an actor in New York had recently gotten a bunch of bad reviews for a play he was in. Someone asked him if he'd read them and he said, "Yeah, I don't believe the hype." I thought that was a sweet way of dealing with it.
You've got Arthur coming up but you've also got three low-budget DIY films awaiting release in 40 Day Dream, Arthouse and Northern Comfort. Will you still be making films with $3,000 budgets after those, do you think?
[Laughs] Maybe not $3,000 budgets but maybe $50,000 budgets. I'm interested in making low-budget films not for the sake of making low-budget films but because a lot of filmmakers that I want to work with and that I like are working on a smaller scale. And a lot of people are trying to figure out how to make films for less money that are still seen and have some sort of impact. That is exciting to me. Being involved in the films that are trying to figure out a model for profitability that are made for under $1m. And I think that a lot of interesting stuff should be happening there. But I think you can make bad films at any budget level. [Laughs]. As most people would say, it should be about the story and the script and the characters and the filmmakers more than any other element.