Emily is unlike many of the characters you have become known for. What was the hardest and best thing about playing her?
It was a real treat to get to play a woman who wears her vulnerability and softness on her sleeve. I’m probably more known for characters who have led with a certain toughness, and my job then becomes about finding moments that crack it, revealing that any perceived hardness is really just a protective shell. Emily is the opposite, and therefore my task was the opposite. Trying to pull moments of strength and grit from a woman who leads with her tenderness and naivety.
This was an on-screen reunion for you and Martin Starr, what was it like to work with him again?
Martin and I have known each other since we were in second grade, and have worked together throughout our careers. So at this point, if I go more than 5 years without working with him, I start to experience withdrawals. Before The Toll Road, it had actually been about 6 years, and the shakes and hair-loss were becoming unbearable. Luckily, order has been restored, and my hand is once again steady as a surgeon's.
What’s been the best and the worst thing about committing to an independent short film, both to produce and star in, in comparison to your other movie work?
The worst part about being a producer in a film you also act in, is when it dawns on you that the only person you can log your actor-y gripes and complaints to is your reflection in the mirror. No more sitting in your trailer and waiting for the grown ups to fix whatever problems arise because YOU ARE THE GROWN UP. But it worked out ok, because we didn't even have trailers to hide out in. As an actress, if you're lucky, a project like The Toll Road comes along at the precise moment you need a reminder of why you got into this business in the first place. No bells and whistles, just the necessary willingness to sweat for a small piece of art that's entirely yours.
What was it like to be directed by your real-life husband?
I think we may have found the one arena where I'm comfortable being told what to do for an extended period of time by my husband. It was like an erotic 1950s throwback.
The truth is, I'm used to watching Tom deliver off-centre, exciting performances as an actor, but I wasn't really prepared to walk away from this experience with the unwavering certainty that he is equally meant to be a director. It's pretty astounding what he was able to pull off in 2 days of shooting, having never done this before. And he's hot.
Billy Gardell is great as Colin. How was working with him, and how did he become involved in the movie?
We had never met Billy before this short, and so we were beyond appreciative of his willingness to lend his talents to our little movie. He is the perfect Colin, and enhanced everything that was on the page. He showed up for purely the love of the game, and he was a delight to play ball with. What a goddamn sweetheart.
And finally, what’s it really like to do nude scenes?
Dad? Is that you? It’s time to move on.