Olivia Wilde’s latest film, the indie dramatic comedy “Drinking Buddies,” takes on one of her favorite activities: drinking. Which is convenient, since writer-director Joe Swanberg strove for realism by having Wilde and her co-stars imbibe real beer during the shoot. The film follows two brewery employees and longtime friends, Kate and Luke (Wilde and “New Girl” star Jake Johnson) who think there might be something more to their friendship. We caught up with the actress in Los Angeles.
What kind of drunk did you want Kate to be?
It was interesting trying to figure out what kind of drunk Kate would be, because she drinks so much all the time — and we were really drinking real beer the whole time we were shooting, so I was familiar with what that would be like, to drink that much every day. But I wanted to play her drunk still very capable, cool, collected, a little woozy and she becomes a little emotional. But it was interesting because I was like, I don’t think she’s a sloppy drunk. She couldn’t have that job and be a sloppy drunk. She just gets a little slurry and a little slow and a little sultry. I thought it was fun.
Outside of the acting part, your job involves a fair amount of drinking, with film festivals and premiere parties and events.
Yeah. I have what my dad calls a hollow leg. I can hold my liquor, it takes a lot. I’m an extremely expensive drunk, which is good. I mean, I appreciate having that amount of self-control. I don’t like drunk people — people who are out of control and can’t control their liquor scare me.
You’ve been promoting this film for a bit.
Yeah, but you know? It doesn’t really feel like work to promote this movie because it’s one that I care so deeply for, and it’s one that is interesting to talk about, because I almost feel that I watch it as an audience member. Because of the nature of the process, we never had a script, we improvised an entire film and shot enough — probably 40 hours of film at least, it might be 70 — and Joe Swanberg kind of wrote the film in the editing process by choosing certain takes and storylines. So I watched it for the first time like a completely innocent audience member and was just blown away by his skill. So talking about it is kind of fun because I sort of feel like I’m in a place of awe, because this was my first time working with this type of process.
Was there anything that really surprised you in the finished product?
Yeah, there were certain things they cut out that at first I thought, will the audience understand without that? And then I realized the great thing about Joe is that he does not underestimate his audience in their intelligence. He knows they’ll understand that if you suddenly see Jake and Anna’s characters at our lake house that we invited them. We don’t need to show the scene where it’s like, “Hey, want to come to the lake?” The audience gets it. It’s fun to see someone with a very keen eye like Joe make those choices. And I think they’re the right ones.
What about the question of whether men and women can be friends?
My opinion is that we’re not asking that question. We’re saying, “Can Luke and Kate be friends?” Because men and women can definitely be friends — definitely, definitely. But not if the specific individuals really like each other and really find something in each other that they’re not finding in their current relationships. And I think it is common to feel that this person who you can joke around with and who seems to accept you in all ways would be the ideal person for you in a romantic way, but what the movie shows is that love is not in the happy moments. Love is not tested when things are groovy and fun. Love is tested when s— hits the fan.