‘To Rome With Love’ star Greta Gerwig is wild about Woody Allen — just read her high school yearbook
Photo by Sony Pictures Classics
Thelma Adams: What did you make of your storyline about an American love triangle in the Eternal City?
Greta Gerwig: Woody Allen has characters that interest him. One is like my character: the person the romantic hero doesn't end up with.. She's the side girl. Woody Allen has these people that he comes back to again and again.
TA: So what is your side girl like in "To Rome With Love"?
GG: She's a little like the inverse of Ellen Page's character. It doesn't break down exactly. Often, there are two women in Woody's movies. In "Manhattan," they balance each other out. As much as Ellen's character is shifty and seductive and complicated and shiny, mine is grounded and bland and trusting and not dazzling. My performance came from what Ellen was doing, because what I was doing was playing in contrast. You can feed off of what they're doing.
TA: How would you describe your character, Sally?
GG: This character is definitely more muted. She's a bit of a bystander. She's not the leading role in her own romance. Somebody else comes in and takes the leading role. Her emotions aren't demonstrative. She's much less sparkly.
TA: Does that make Page's Monica the manic pixie dream girl?
GG: I hate that phrase; that idea, that it gets applied to people, that you have to avoid or deny it. It's reductive. It's a way of trying to find a connection where often one doesn't exist. I was reading something about the screwball comedy "Bringing Up Baby," and it called Katharine Hepburn the original manic pixie dream girl. Aren't we reaching? I'm probably just annoyed by it, but it's around. I'm no pixie. I'm 5 foot 9 and 140. When I go on set, they're always surprised the first day. I'm a giant, and everybody is a mini person.
TA: I know that for me, growing up a Jewish girl in the San Diego suburbs, watching Woody Allen was like getting thrown a cinematic life preserver. I knew that "somewhere, there's a place for me."
GG: I'm not Jewish. I'm the original shiksa. I went to a Catholic girls' school in Sacramento. I wanted to be Annie Hall, to find a nice Jewish boy and bring him back to my goyish family. I adored Woody Allen movies. I felt less alone. I could project myself into a time where I would be less lonely and would be surrounded by people like me. Woody Allen also led me to other movies. He led me to "Cries and Whispers" by Ingmar Bergman. I didn't grow up with arthouse movie theaters.. Allen was the first person that gave me a window into what was possible. I read all his stories. I loved "A Guide to Some of the Lesser Ballets."