Parker Posey: I Feel Safe With Good Material
By JARETT WIESELMAN
November 16, 2012
For the last two decades, Parker Posey has been bringing audiences to their knees so quickly, you'd think Darla just shouted, "Air Raid!" Seamlessly segueing between indie cinema and popcorn fare (not to mention jumping from film to television and back again), the actress has established herself as one of the most versatile, gifted and beguiling in the biz.
Posey's latest film, the biting Price Check, casts her as Susan Felders, the newly appointed head of pricing and marketing for a supermarket franchise tasked with salvaging a failing chain. But things don't go exactly as planned for Susan, the company or its employees. Thankfully, Posey's professional plan is firing on all cylinders as ETonline discovered upon sitting down with the in-demand actress.
ETonline: What attracted you to Price Check?
Parker Posey: It's about something. It's like an old school movie -- like In the Company of Men or Clockwatchers -- about office politics and where we're at right now as a country. Peter (played by Eric Mabius) was this music guy who was totally cool, but look what happened to the music industry and where he is now. It was a well-written script about a world I had never seen before, and not a lot of those movies are being financed right now. Everything gets made as a result of concept or a one-line pitch.
ETonline: So many of your films are hard to summarize, which is a compliment. Do you find yourself less attracted to films you can boil down to a single sentence?
Posey: Absolutely. These are the projects where you don't just have characters who are "good" or "bad." They have different elements in all of them; that's my favorite kind of thing to play and I'm still doing it after all these years.
ETonline: What appealed to you about Susan?
Posey: I connected to her. I feel connected and safe with good material. If I don't see the material on the page, but still get the job, I kind of make up the material myself to bring in something that will make it more real for me. I always want to give someone a heart and a soul. I think, What is the place a person wants to achieve from? With Price Check, that's the scene between Susan and her boss before she throws herself on the floor. You see how much she cares. Where does a strong female come from? What gives them that engine to keep trying?
ETonline: You also have a unique gift for making the audience empathize with less than compassionate characters. For example, in Scream 3, Jennifer Jolie was the only one I wanted to live. Is that what it;s about for you; avoiding archetypes and being your own type?
Posey: Yeah, for sure. I wouldn't say it's easy to play unlikeable characters, but I think people in powerful positions can have psychopathic tendencies and people are seduced by that. Someone like Jennifer, OK, she's an actress playing Gale in the movie Stab. How do people in horror films stay in horror films? They have to be out of their minds. So I started thinking about this idea of an overworked actress who was being destructive without realizing it because she wouldn't leave. That was my corny backstory with Jennifer. And she was so fun. Wes [Craven, director] let me get away with some stuff that I was really surprised by. I mean, I thought he didn't see some of what I was doing because he kept it in [laughs].
ETonline: You've also done a lot of television work lately, on Louie, The Good Wife and New Girl. Would you be open to headlining your own show again?
Posey: I think TV is at a point right now where the people on the business side are becoming more open to self-creators. Places like HBO are doing internet branches of their company. The business is changing, the model is changing and that's good because I think the form needs to change. I love what the writers of Breaking Bad and Homeland are doing, and what Lena Dunham and Louis C.K. are doing with comedic shows about their psyche. I think my interests lie in great writing, and I'm talking to David O. Russell about an idea we have called This Family, which would be a collective of playwrights and actors. When the voice of the writer is compromised by advertisers coming in every 7 minutes or 14 minutes ... it's been such a long time of them creating what TV can be and it's exciting to see the artists taking back control.