Cut from the same cloth as her indie hit “Bachelorette,” writer-director Leslye Headland’s latest, “Sleeping with Other People,” is a rom-com that’s sexually aware, brash, but doesn’t talk down to the genre that it represents. The film knows exactly where it stands and because of that, the characters are that much more refreshing in how they fumble through the nature of intimacy without physicality.
It’s the aforementioned qualities that make Jason Sudeikis a solid fit. With that in mind, because of Headland’s nuances, the actor reveals an intriguing vulnerable side we haven’t seen before. Sudeikis plays Jake, a man who while at college loses his virginity to Lainey (Alison Brie). Years later and he meets Lainey at a sex addiction center. Turns out they both have commitment issues, but for completely different reasons. They quickly develop an intimacy that transcends their number one addiction.
amNewYork spoke to Jason Sudeikis about this kind of intimacy and much more.
Q: Leslye has a very specific voice. She’s blunt and sophisticated, and somehow she weaves all this humor into it. What were your first impressions of the script?
A: Exactly that. It was all there. The tone that you’re speaking of is that matter-of-factness that is deeply rooted in a love of movies and interesting language. It’s not a mumblecore movie. Yet, she’s not married to her words in a way that would be frustrating to someone like myself who’s memorization is maybe atrophied over the last 10 years having worked on a show where we used cue cards. [Laughs] She’s got more of a point of view then merely a male or female. It extends well beyond her chromosomes.
Q: Sometimes when movies like this come around, you feel an inherent gender coming through, and with this you really don’t.
A: Yeah. Every single character is a version of herself. She’s got a real good knack of finding those things and not judging them within herself. I think she may have cleverly hidden some of her own insecurities in the guise of various multiple characters from male to female. They all feel unique, and I think that’s also to credit her casting. Outside of myself, which I can’t condone her decision there, I have no baggage with my partner in crime Alison [Brie], and the insanely talented supporting cast.
Q: In terms of casting, you mentioned “Saturday Night Live,” were you concerned about being seen in a particular light or doing something completely different?
A: It would be out of character for me as a human being to assume anybody knows who I am anyway, to feel like I have to be something different, in order to change a perception of me. I’m not trying that hard to stick out, I guess. I spend 24 hours a day with myself so I have a higher level of awareness of who I am and what I’m capable of. I think the thing that would make people insane coming off of that show would be the opportunity it provides. To get your own voice fairly untouched from a Monday to a Saturday is an extreme that most actors and writers don’t get to experience, if ever. Much less for 10 years like I did.
Q: You and Alison have terrific chemistry in the film. You can fake chemistry but it usually doesn’t come off really well.
A; [Laughs] I agree. … I think that comes from getting to work with talented people, and being surrounded with fascinating women my entire life. We met at a chemistry read. When Alison came in it made sense. It sounded like a rom-com from whatever era you wanted it to be. Whether you wanted it to be “Annie Hall” or “His Girl Friday.” It made all the sense in the world and that was evident immediately from the first time we read a scene together throughout the press. It was fake love at first sight.
Q: The film deals with intimacy even though the characters aren’t physically intimate. They’re emotionally intimate with each other. What do you think this movie says about the casual nature of relationships these days?
A: What’s nice is that I don’t think we time stamped it too much. It is right before the swell of Tinder, when swipe left became a term. We were making it the summer that that happened, so it doesn’t reflect that. It’s deeply romantic in the notion that intimacy is the greatest thing that can come out of a relationship, and that the rest is the cherries on top. The intimacy is the true meat and potatoes of it all and it can exist even in text form, it can exist silently, as it does. It’s tough because I don’t know what the movie is saying about it. I have my interpretation of it. I’m glad we left some gaps in there that the audience can fill in with their own personal experience with love and relationships. We’re not giving it all to you.