Mary Elizabeth Winstead talks about challenging new movie 'Smashed'
Mary Elizabeth Winstead has starred in big studio movies like "Live Free or Die Hard" and "Final Destination 3," as well as the cult hit "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," but in the new independent drama "Smashed" she finally gets the chance to really show what she's capable of as an actress.
The 27-year-old plays alcoholic elementary school teacher Kate, who finds her seemingly happy marriage to Charlie (Aaron Paul) tested when she goes sober. From director/co-writer James Ponsoldt, it's an intimate, character-driven piece that earned strong reviews at this year's Sundance Film Festival and opens in theaters tomorrow.
amNewYork spoke with Winstead about the movie, which co-stars Nick Offerman ("Parks and Recreation") and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer ("The Help").
Kate is a daunting role, and a person who goes to a dark place. What drew you to her? For me, regardless of the fact that she's an addict and all these dark things that are going on in her life, what really impressed me about the character was just what a full human being she was. She has her faults, but she has a lot of strength of character. She makes mistakes, but she's willing to face up to them and try to move forward with her life.
Were you extra nervous about being the central focus in every scene of a performance-driven movie like this? It's sort of two-fold, because it's the kind of thing I've been dying to do my entire career. It's the kind of part that you're constantly looking for, you're constantly wanting, but then, on the other hand, when you finally get it, when it finally actually happens, you're terrified because you don't actually know if you can really accomplish what in your mind you think you're capable of. I always thought I could handle a really meaty role, [that] I can do that, but I hadn't done it yet, so who's to say I could?
You were the first to sign on to this movie; how'd it feel to be surrounded by such a great ensemble? I absolutely did not expect all these incredible actors to show up for this little movie, what could for a lot of actors be considered fairly small parts. They really understood the complexity of all these characters and how layered they all are, no matter how much screen time they get.
"Scott Pilgrim" wasn't a big box office hit, but it's built a devoted, passionate audience. What are your thoughts on that experience? I haven't done many films that have done well opening weekend. I've only done one or two. It's definitely more exciting to have something that starts out small and grows to be big over time, because that's such a rarity. Typically, your film comes out, it does well, it doesn't do well, whatever, you move on to the next thing and then it becomes somewhat forgotten. So to do something that keeps building and keeps garnering a bigger and bigger fanbase ... it's incredibly exciting and I just hope it's going to continue, and 20 years from now, it'll be something that people are still talking about.