Alice Eve on 'Dirty Weekend' and American versus English prudery
"Dirty Weekend" star Alice Eve says America and England isn't too dissimilar when it comes to suppression, and discusses the joys of working with one other actor.
Alice Eve has done two films with sometime badboy playwright and filmmaker Neil LaBute, both (mostly) pairing her with one other actor. “Some Velvet Morning” starred her and Stanley Tucci as two people having a twisty row in an apartment. The new “Dirty Weekend” deposits her in Albuquerque with Matthew Broderick, playing business colleagues who kill a protracted layover by snooping into what happened to him many years ago during a blackout drunk crawl. As they investigate, they realize he may be kinkier than even he realizes.
Matthew Broderick’s Les is in many ways a classic American character: prudish about sex, especially his own deeply-seated kinks. As a Brit visiting America, how do you view this very American phenomenon?
I don’t think it’s just America that has a discordant relationship between an outward and inward life. We have our own very complicated enforced form of suppression and oppression. Every society has a way of stopping the truth coming out. Both our characters have our inner desires they were ashamed or embarrassed of. They hold each other’s hands to make it feel safe to be who they were. To me that’s a beautiful story.
This is your second film with Neil LaBute. It’s a much more optimistic, nicer film than his other films and plays, which can be quite dark.
It’s a lighter fare. You could imagine it being a 1950s film with Jack Lemmon.
Still, it is about self-deception — a common theme running through his work.
He’s a man who’s very in touch with what lies beneath, what the truth is, however uncomfortable it is or however much it may be viewed as strange. It’s there and therefore it is. I feel the same about life. Every human walking the earth has to live with the truth that one day they’ll die. That’s a lot to put away, a lot to carry. You have to make a life you can live that doesn’t necessarily allow that in. It’s a survival mechanism. I think these guys are doing that for sure.
The main thrust of the story revolves around Natalie trying to get Les to open up, but she does some opening up of her own.
Through her prodding and goading of him to find his own truth she opens up herself. Maybe that’s why she’s instigating him in the first place — to lift the lid on the things she was unhappy with in her personal life. He’s a little unclear of what he wants to find out, whereas she doesn’t know if she has anything to find out. She’s in a relationship where she’s stuck and she can’t see, maybe, that it’s getting on her nerves.
Unlike some of LaBute’s films, this isn’t based on one of his plays but is an original work. Still, it’s very chatty and filmed in a way that suggests an adaptation from the stage. Does he direct in a “theatrical” manner?
The that feels like theater about theater is mainly the audience. That ups the ante. It makes it feel like so much more, because it’s live. Film isn’t live. The thing that’s similar is his investigation into the dialogue and into character, which traditionally is seen in a theatrical space. You really go deep. For me, it’s wonderful to take his thoughts and his intelligence and bring that to the screen.
As with “Some Velvet Morning,” this is, for the most part, a two-hander with one other actor. How do you deal with making a film that’s that intimate?
I’ve gotten quite used to it. It’s a format I like a lot. What happens, certainly on this film and “Some Velvet Morning,” is that both were filmed in under a month, and you’re able to fall into a rhythm with the other person, which is carried over when you’re not acting. Not that you’re in character when you’re not acting, but that energy you share onscreen is maintained off-screen. That’s how it works for me.
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