Chloë Sevigny is a long way from East Village in her latest movie, “Lean On Pete.”
The quintessential New Yorker plays a jockey named Bonnie in Andrew Haigh’s heart-wrenching rural Oregon-set drama, based on a novel by Willy Vlautin.
The 43-year-old actress appears alongside Steve Buscemi and up-and-comer Charlie Plummer, who stars as the sweet-natured, bereaved teenage Charley, who finds solace in a friendship with an aging racehorse.
“He really emanates, and he is that person,” Sevigny says of 18-year-old Plummer. “He’s very gentle, and just good. Yeah, he’s one in a million. There aren’t a lot of kids like him.”
We recently got the chance to chat with Sevigny about making the movie, in theaters Friday, and quiz the star on what’s good around NYC these days.
What informs your choices when you pick a role?
I think that for the most part, my career has been dictated by the directors that I’ve worked with. And being a big fan of Andrew’s, when I heard that there was a script and a possible part, I said “You know, I’d probably do it no matter what it is, just to get part of his oeuvre, and work with somebody as talented.” He’s such a clear voice and so different from everybody else is, and I just love the way he sits with characters in his movies, and entering his world, and how good he is at immersing you in that; not making judgments for you, and letting you take it in your own time.
What was the biggest challenge in playing Bonnie?
I did horse training, and that probably was the most challenging aspect, just the physicality . . . and having to learn to be at ease around horses. I’d never really been around horses in my life, and they’re such large, intimidating creatures, and they’re very sensitive, and so you have to have confidence. So I just mimicked whatever the trainers around me were doing, and faked it till I made it with the horses.
You notably lived in East Village for years — which neighborhood is home now?
I’m renovating an apartment in, I guess it’s West SoHo. Something like that. I’ve never lived west of Broadway, so it’s like a new Manhattan for me. I like that it’s kind of pre-gentrified. It feels a little “adult” over there. It feels semi-residential, like around TriBeCa and like west of Soho, and West Village. . . . I have a view. It’s only the second time in my life that I’ve had a view, and I am ready to embrace that.
Are you enjoying the renovation process?
Renovating is fun, a little stressful. Asbestos is always a very stressful word to hear. Anytime anybody could be in danger, it’s terrifying. But I think it’s going to be good. Hopefully my third and final attempt at making a real home in New York. You never know. I had a misfire in Park Slope.
I really wanted it, it was the most beautiful apartment you’ve ever seen, but it was just too far, and I missed the proximity to my friends.
You’ve solidly maintained style icon status since the ’90s. Where do you like to shop these days?
I’m trying not to shop, I keep trying to purge, but I like all of the designer consignment stores, like the INAs and Tokio 7 and Beacon. I try to mostly buy secondhand; still the same places, I still have my little routes along the East Village, on Ninth Street there’s like all those little ones by Veselka. They still have the same places I go to over and over.
So you still like to hang out in the East Village?
I do while I’m … renovating. Back at Veselka every day. Back at B&H [Dairy].
How’s the vibe there these days?
It’s pretty fratty. My brother and I were talking about, that’s why I like moving to this new neighborhood, I won’t feel as annoyed by them. I feel so protective over the East Village, and when that vibe is around me I get so frustrated. I feel like at least in the new neighborhood I won’t be able to claim anything.
Pockets of authenticity are ever-shrinking in this city. Where do you still see it?
You still see it if you sit in Tompkins Square [Park]. Tompkins is still really real . . . I used to sit in there all the time, if I didn’t have a job I would just sit there all day long and read and hang out with my friends, and it’s still like one of my favorite things to do.