Thursday, April 29, 2010

Prince of Swine's Flawed Heroine

Q: Your lead actress said earlier that her character, Julie, is a “good person with a hard past, whose anger prevents anyone from being close to her”. Expand on that.

Mark Toma (writer/director, Prince of Swine): Nell had an extensive back story, she knew Julie's past, I threw out my own ideas, so we both knew her past, but we deliberately don't go into it in the movie.

Q: Why not?

MT: We wanted to make Julie universal. It doesn’t really matter how she got to that point in her life which the movie depicts. There are a million ways to get to that place.

Q: Name some.

MT: Just a person witnesses tragedy or injustice, on a personal level, it effects them personally, and that happens to everyone sooner or later, if that doesn’t happen to you in your life I don’t know what planet you’re living on. It happened to her fairly young. And she’s in that stage of that where she still takes that very personally, she has to make sense of it or she can’t go on living.

Q: Well what is the tragedy or injustice she witnessed?

MT: We don’t go into that because then it would be all about her and not universal. It wouldn’t be funny either. Prince of Swine is a comedy, and Julie is coming out of that when we meet her, she’s not headed into tragedy, she’s coming out of it. She’s triumphant, not defeated.

Q: But you both knew what the dark thing or tragedy was?

MT: Of course, we discussed it extensively. Nell's a very brave actress to go to that place. I don't know what exact history she finally settled on, it's not important, but we went over every square inch of the psychological territory she's coming from.

Q: Which is what?

MT: The actual history is not important, there's a thousand ways to get to the same place, this is a universal thing people go through. It’s not as if Julie’s mortally wounded, suffering like this to grow is the law of the universe. It could be someone close to her died, she’s still grieving, they believed in something very strongly, this is her way of honoring them. Or maybe a parent had their career or life destroyed by someone that reminds her of the Defendant in this case. Or maybe she failed to protect somebody she felt responsible for, they came to a bad end, so now she’s doing some sort of penance. We don’t need to know why, the point is, she takes it very personally, this is a personal matter of honor to her, we just need to know that she’s an honorable person, working through a personal demon.

Q: She’s somewhat of a flawed heroine in your eyes?

MT: I think she’s fighting the good fight, she’s a good person. Most of her anger is spent flagellating herself more than anyone else. She doesn’t really hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve it. She’s a bit much to take for the people who care about her, it’s difficult to be her friend. I don’t think you want to go through life eternally angry like that.

Q: Will she do that?

MT: Well, a lot of the anger is exorcized in just the time we know her. Still, I don’t think she ever laughs once in the movie. Sometimes she’s ironic or acerbic, but never quite laughs. This is a multi-dimensional, layered character, she’s as deep a character as you’ll see on screen, at the same time she’s the archetypal humorless feminist! She cries a lot, in a strange way that might be a precursor to laughing in the future, being able to feel joy again. That might be the sequel hopefully: “Prince of Swine II: Julie Laughs”.

Prince of Swine opens at the Laemmle Sunset 5 in West Hollywood on the Sunset Strip at Crescent Heights, Memorial Day Weekend, for a limited engagement, May 28th to June 3rd.

Get tickets for Prince of Swine online at the Laemmle Sunset 5 or the Prince of Swine website (discounts available for advance and group purchasers).

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