You can tell a lot about an actor based on the sort of projects they pursue.
From her debut in 2010’s “The Runaways” through “Logan Lucky,” her starring role on Starz’s “The Girlfriend Experience,” and her appearance in a soon-to-be-released Lars von Trier movie, Riley Keough has acted in consistently interesting films made by uniquely talented directors.
amNewYork spoke with the 28-year-old, who also happens to be Elvis Presley’s granddaughter, about “Logan Lucky,” a Southern heist comedy from Steven Soderbergh opening Friday in which she stars opposite Channing Tatum and Adam Driver as her brothers.
Steven Soderbergh, who you’ve worked with multiple times, has a reputation of being a step or two above other directors in terms of sheer intelligence. How does that manifest itself in terms of being directed?
I think that’s true just as a person, not even just as a director. His intelligence is wild, you know? So it manifests as a director because he’s got an answer for every question. He’s 10 steps ahead of you all the time. He’s very confident in his opinions and in his way of assessing things. It’s very comforting to work with someone like that, that’s that highly intelligent and knows exactly what their vision and quest is.
What was his direction for you in terms of playing Mellie Logan?
The thing that Steven does that I really like and also makes me really uncomfortable, is he puts a lot of responsibility as an actor in your hands. He’s not nitpicky or really specific with performance. He kind of lets you come up with things on your own and likes to see what you do instinctually.
This movie painstakingly avoids the usual Southern stereotypes.
The thing about the South is, my family’s Southern. Southern people are funny. And they know they’re funny. They know what they’re saying is wild and they know it’s funny. It’s a whole different kind of wavelength. It’s not making fun of them, it’s not that at all. They’re characters in the South and I think it’s allowing those characters to win in life and to beat the system. It’s funny because they’re characters, but I don’t think that’s untrue to the South.
What’s it like to play the sister of Channing Tatum and Adam Driver?
I had worked with Chan before, so I was familiar with him, so that was very easy for me. And Adam, I had not worked with before, but he’s so amazing and great. The character he developed for Clyde was a lot to work with, because he was kind of apathetic and funny and dry.
You come from one of the most iconic show business families. When did you know acting was for you?
I always knew I wanted to do film. I didn’t know I wanted to be in front of the camera, necessarily. I just wanted to do anything in movies. I loved people. I was obsessed with people and subtleties and the way they move and their faces and expressions and subtle, subtle things.