Celebrity Interview: Greta Gerwig

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Celebrity Interview: This month we sat down with a charming, ebullient actress-director – Greta Gerwig.

Greta Gerwig is irresistibly endearing. We can’t help but fall in love with her screen alter egos in Frances Ha, To Rome With Love, and the sensationalMaggie’s Plan. In person, she’s as delightfully quirky as her characters which are all playful variations on her own mildly anxious, good-natured self.

Her solo directorial debut, Lady Bird, a coming-of-age dramatic comedy about a fiercely independent 17-year-old Sacramento girl, Christine (Saoirse Ronan), provided a semi-autobiographical account of her own angst-ridden adolescent experience, and was roundly admired, and awarded, not least taking home the Academy gong for Best Director.

Last year’s Little Women again saw Irish actress Saoirse in pole position, enveloped in a swaying drama that told the tale of four sisters. Again there was an award on its way, this time for Best Writing Adapted Screenplay.

Next up, she takes on Barbie, a live action feature film based on the popular line of toys. It’s a brave departure for Gerwig, who is of German and Irish descent, but based on her dedication now to directing – her last acting role was back in 2018 – it’s surely one she can pull off… albeit she will have to wait for the industry to return to some semblance of normality before we, as an audience, can judge whether the transition has worked.

Gerwig graduated with a degree in philosophy from Barnard College in New York City, where she still lives today with her long-time partner, filmmaker Noah Baumbach, who directed her in Frances Ha (which they co-wrote) and Mistress America. She has made a career of playing oddball, offbeat women. She often resembles a female Woody Allen – smart, neurotic and prone to romantic disappointment. But sitting down and chatting with Gerwig, one is immediately charmed by her lively, ebullient persona. It’s also obvious that the nervous, insecure side to her screen alter egos is very much part of her nature.

Together: You’re noted for playing quirky women you play who often don’t fit into easy categorisation. Is that your preference?

Greta Gerwig: I think people are fundamentally strange and to a certain extent unknowable. What fascinates me is why people behave the way we do because we often behave in contradictory and confusing fashion. That’s the part about acting that I love and that’s why I love playing women who don’t conform to stereotypes that we often see in movies. I try to explore human nature through my work which is the essence of acting for me.

You worked with some outstanding female actors – do you have a favourite?: I wouldn’t state favourites or those I’ve preferred to work with, but I will say that Annette Bening is one of the greatest actresses in the business. She’s always been one of my personal favourites so you can imagine how thrilled I was to be able to work with her and get to know her personally. That was really a beautiful experience.