Let's get this out of the way: Riley Keough is Elvis’ granddaughter. Her mom is Lisa Marie Presley and she spent some of her life with Michael Jackson as a stepdad. When we speak, Keough discusses none of this. She doesn’t have to. She’s made her own life, and that includes a relatively normal actor’s career: A start in indies (like “Jack & Diane”), striking supporting work in the likes of “Magic Mike” and “Mad Max: Fury Road.” And now she headlines the Starz show “The Girlfriend Experience,” in which she’s in nearly every scene.
Spun-off from the titular 2009 movie by Steven Soderbergh (who produced), “GFE” spends 13 half-hour episodes spying on Christine, a young law student who moonlights as a high-end escort. Keough, 26, has to convey a lot without saying much. That’s fine with her.
Shooting TV can be hectic for actors, but it seems the quick pace might have helped with a character who doesn’t say much. Most of the time, we watch Christine as she's silent.
I generally don’t like overthinking things or preparing too much. This didn’t give me room to do that at all. I didn’t have an hour to sit in my trailer and intellectualize my scenes. I was given whatever we were doing, and then I was just doing it. With movies you have time to overthink.
Christine doesn’t have another person to talk to. That’s unusual for a lead character. Even Jane Fonda’s character in “Klute” had a therapist.
She just isn’t that interested in intellectualizing her feelings and emotions, unlike most women. Women are supposed to talk about everything. I am emotional, and I care about my feelings, and I get upset. But [Christine] really doesn’t care. She finds that to be a waste of time. I find that really funny.
Soderbergh has talked about how she’s unique because she just doesn’t think of sex as a big deal.
That’s true. And doing this show made me think about why it’s such a secret, weird thing. Why is there so much attached to it? I like that it means nothing to her. She’s like, “Whatever,” and she’s unapologetic about it. That makes you think: Is everyone right about sex? It’s something that has a lot of emotion attached to it. People get angry about it, people hate it, people love it, people are obsessed with it. To have someone who doesn’t care is super weird. It’s more of a role you’d see for a male character. I think [writers-directors] Amy [Seimetz] and Lodge [Kerrigan] were writing for a human, not a woman. That’s a great perspective to have on her — that she’s just a person, to not give her a gender.