Juliette Lewis gets her riot on in ‘Kelly & Cal’

In the dramedy “Kelly & Cal,” Juliette Lewis plays Kelly, a post-’90s riot girl drowning in her new role as a mother while trying to rediscover her sensuality as a woman.

“People do call it a midlife crises, I prefer existential crises,” Lewis says.

It all seems like a lonely road until she strikes up an unlikely friendship with a 17-year-old peeping Tom, Cal (Jonny Weston). That’s when Kelly tries desperately to reconnect with her old self in the midst of postpartum depression. For Lewis, it’s an interesting dichotomy.

“I loved it,” she says. “Here she is, a really intelligent, evolving person, and she’s completely digressing. I’m guilty of all of it too.”

amNY spoke with Lewis about ’90s culture, and more.


As women we’re told to be reserved, especially when it comes to motherhood.

Yes! I made up a word called an emotionalist, so as an emotionalist I’m always working for fresh points of view. I love contradictions. As far as women and stories I’m looking for anything that is different and real. Not just a sexualization of some [explicative] one-dimensional sex pot, it’s such a yawn, and so it’s not that! This is not a Rihanna movie.


Right, but then we see the effort women make in trying to meet that sexpot facade.

It’s in our culture and pop music. All I see are these giddy men that run big corporations with young girls as perfect puppets. The nice thing about Katy Perry is that she’s at least evolved into a songwriter. When she first came out it was that Lolita-esque stuff. To me it’s the weakest card you can go to but it’s the first thing young women go to sometimes because that’s their first power.


It’s been some time since we heard a solo album from you. Is a new one coming?

Oh my God, it’s been four years. It’s a real grassroots thing being an independent artist. I want to bring it all back to the stage. This movie was the first time I wrote songs for a film, and it’s all written in character.

There was a time where you could have been categorized as a riot girl. How was it playing an adult version of that person?

It’s funny because people probably would think that of me because there’s this spirit in my early acting work. But in the ’90s, I was all hippy and listening to Led Zeppelin. Besides The Pixies and Nirvana, I can’t actually classify myself with that movement because I wasn’t fully aware of it at the time.


Kelly passes off ’90s culture. Is there anything you miss about the ’90s?

Last night I downloaded Garbage’s album [‘Version] 2.0,’ and Mazzy Star. I just watched Kathleen Hanna’s documentary ‘The Punk Singer.’ She was everything because she had a voice and a spirit. That’s what I miss today. I wish someone was ranting against or for something.


If you had to put your mood into a Manic Panic hair color, what would it be?

Well, let me tell you, I have experience with Manic Panic. I had just done my last tour — and this was pre-Katy Perry — but I had that blue hair that’s in the movie. It was this amazing aqua color. It’s the color of the cosmic sea in ‘The Little Mermaid.’ They need to make a color called cosmic sea.