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Olivia Thirlby: ‘I’m a slut and proud of it'

The actress best known for her role in ‘Juno’ digs into a character whose attitudes on sexuality are in line with her own.

In the indie drama "Nobody Walks," Olivia Thirlby stars as Martine, a sensual young artist whose stay at a Los Angeles family's home causes quite a bit of domestic strife. In the script, co-written by director Ry Russo-Young and "Girls" creator Lena Dunham, Martine's sexuality is front and center. Or, as Thirlby puts it, "Martine is a slut."

Before you get the wrong idea, Thirlby has a few things to say about that particular word. "I'm not a fan of slut-shaming. I use the term slut in a very sex-positive way. I'm a slut and proud of it. All women should be," she says. "When it comes to Martine and Martine's sexuality, which is a very specific thing that we focused on nailing -- no pun intended -- she doesn't compartmentalize her sexuality."

The role gave Thirlby a chance to examine a very modern take on sexuality -- one that happens to jibe pretty closely with her own personal philosophy, as it turns out. "She's comfortable with the notion of having sex with her friends, and I think that's something that she does, and that's something that's pretty popular among the young kids these days," she says with a laugh. "And it's, I think personally, a very healthy view of sex. You have sex with your friends -- why not? They're trustworthy, you know them, you like them, you know? You have sex with your friends but then you're still friends the next day."

Of course, the rest of the world isn't necessarily so open-minded. So is Thirlby worried about any criticism from those who don't take depictions of empowered female sexuality well? "I mean, I can't be worried about it," she admits. "My character is very ambiguous, and I think that's part of the movie -- showing a complicated situation and showing people's part, honestly, in it."

Changing speeds

While she got her start in indie fare like “Juno,” Olivia Thirlby has been branching out, and this past year recently found her going from filming the action-packed comic book movie “Dredd” to the much smaller drama “Being Flynn” and then “Nobody Walks.” It was a transition, the actress admits, that had her worried.

“After ‘Dredd’ finished, I was having serious doubts about whether I could even act anymore after doing so much exposition and dialogue that is so rooted in the imaginary world,” she says. “That’s the hardest thing to sell. Saying stuff like, ‘God damn it, if I’m going to make it you’re going to make it too!’ and you’re talking about, like, aliens.”

 
 
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