Mary Elizabeth Winstead gets ‘Smashed’

Mary Elizabeth Winstead says it’s incredibly hard to play drunk.

She’s made a name for herself backing up a vampire-slaying Abraham Lincoln, as John McClaine’s daughter in “Live Free or Die Hard” and as a hipster dream girl in “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” But despite the fun she’s had in the pop culture movie world, Mary Elizabeth Winstead has been hungry for a good, solid indie drama. But taking on the lead in “Smashed” did come with a few hesitations.

“It was scary for me to take it on because I’d never done anything like that before, and I think for years, like most actors, you sit around going, ‘Why can’t I get one of those parts that’s, like, really great?’” Winstead says with a laugh. “But then when you actually get the part you’re like, ‘Oh s—, I have to figure out how to do this.’ So it was a little scary. But just the fact that I got through it and I did it and the response has been good, my confidence has grown a lot.”

Playing an elementary school teacher who realizes she’s an alcoholic held several challenges, not least of which was convincingly pretending to be drunk. “It’s really daunting. Even the best actors sometimes, it’s just really hard,” she admits. “The whole thing about being drunk is that you’re out of control. And if you’re acting, you’re sometimes sort of in control and it kind of defeats the whole purpose of making it authentic.”

Luckily, Winstead found help in the form of a book, “The Power of the Actor,” given to her by co-writer and director James Ponsoldt. “It has an entire chapter dedicated to playing drunk,” Winstead explains. “It’s kind of just like hypnosis in a way. You just take yourself through all the steps of what it feels like to be drunk, and it just kind of plays a little mind trick on you and you feel really loose and out of your body. It really helped just let me let go of the fear of worrying about whether it felt real or not because I just felt really loose and buzzed, for sure.”

Of course, that only covers half of the journey her character takes. To research the heart of the story, Winstead spent a month attending Alcoholic Anonymous meetings around Los Angeles — though always at the invitation of a member. “It was great. Everyone was so relatable, and that was my first step,” she says. “This wasn’t someone different from me. She drinks, and I don’t drink a lot, but if you take that part out of it she’s pretty much exactly like me. That was my first step into figuring her out.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Is #JusticeForAvaLynn a case of bullying?

On Saturday, the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn became one of the trending topics on Twitter. Users circulated the above photo of 5-year-old AvaLynn, posted by her mother…

International

Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…

National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…