Greta Gerwig: Mumblecore Darling Grows Up
BY DENNIS KING
NEW YORK – Greta Gerwig has been characterized as “the Meryl Streep of mumblecore.”
Thus far, the tall, blond 26-year-old Gerwig has exercised her considerable talents as an actress – as well as a writer and director – on the far fringes of movie fame, in the obscure realm of ultra-low-budget indie films known as mumblecore. Hardly a stage that puts her on par with the estimable Hollywood acting dynamo Streep.
But judging from her performance in Noah Baumbach’s astringent new comedy-drama “Greenberg,” in which the lithe actress glammed down and pudged up to play Florence Marr, an aimless 20-something groping hopefully toward an uncertain future, Gerwig is on her way to big things on the big screen.
Having cut her moviemaking teeth on barebones indie films (her first film, made while she was a senior at Barnard College, had a total budget of $3,000), Gerwig marvels at the luxury of working on a Hollywood movie set.
“I actually had my own trailer, and there was a craft services table with real food, not just packaged snacks,” Gerwig said with guileless awe during press interviews hosted by Focus Features.
In early films, such as “Hannah Takes the Stairs,” “LOL” and “Nights and Weekends,” Gerwig and fellow actors relied heavily on improvised dialogue to create a sense of realism in their austere, slices of life. In other words, they often made it up as they went.
But the highly literate Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale”) is known to be a stickler for precise dialogue that follows his scripts word for word.
“This was completely scripted,” Gerwig said. “There’s not a word in the film that’s improvised.”
And for her, that was a great relief.
“It was actually a great gift, and something that I’d been looking for as an actress,” she said. “When I’d been in plays in high school and college, I always had a strong sense that well-written plays are very rhythmic. So if you miss even a single word it would sound strange. So when I started working on this script, it was so nice to tap into that.
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