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

Woman dies when run over by bus at…

A woman at the Burning Man arts and culture festival in the Nevada desert died on Thursday when she was run over by a bus carrying participants.

National

Texas parents sue day care center for duct…

By Marice RichterDALLAS (Reuters) - A Texas couple has filed a lawsuit against the owners of a Fort Worth-area day care center seeking $1 million…

National

Santa Fe city council votes to decriminalize marijuana

By Joseph KolbALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) - Santa Fe on Wednesday became the latest U.S. city to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, with lawmakers in the…

International

Egypt queries Mursi over documents "leaked" to Al…

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt is investigating jailed ex-president Mohamed Mursi in connection with documents that judicial investigators say were leaked to the Qatar-based Al Jazeera…

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.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

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.

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…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…