Interview: “How He Fell In Love” Standout Amy Hargreaves Talks Character, The Cassavetes Influence and Indescribable Love
For a true cinefile there’s nothing better than discovering a five-star female performance – an unforgettable character by a leading lady whose work lingers long. The moving new film from writer/director Marc Meyers titled How He Fell In Love (currently playing in LA, New York and select cities from Monument Releasing) has one such tasty turn. Playing a layered and complex character who is caught between the loyalty to her husband and the love of a younger man with whom she’s having a passionate affair, actress Amy Hargreaves gives one bold, strong and emotionally rich performance that all but solidifies her as on-screen force to be reckoned with. Going to real and raw places but all the while maintaining a sense of strength, Hargreaves Oscar worthy work is nothing short of superb and truly challenges the status quo.
But while her pitch perfect performance itself speaks volumes, a film fan always wants to delve deeper. So for my very first interview here at the great WhySoBlu, I’m so very proud to present a little Q&A insight into a role that’s already in serious contention for my Top Five Female Performances of 2016 list (and one that I feel should at the very least steal an acting Indie Spirit Award!) directly from the artist herself – ladies and gentleman I’m honored to present the arresting…
What were your first thoughts when you read the script for How He Fell In Love about your character Ellen?
Amy Hargreaves: Marc wrote a great story and a great character. I read a lot of scripts and there are plenty of interesting things here and there, but this jumped out as really next level. Fascinating just a character and the storyline – you don’t see this kind of thing everyday. It kind of reminded me of when I read Blue Ruin where I was like holy cow this is a great script. And even though my role in that film was kind of small, it was just such an amazing little arc in there. I felt the similar way when I read this, where I felt this is an amazing character, so I was dying to do it.
With so much character layering and a wondrous mix of raw emotions what was the most difficult thing about playing Ellen?
AH: I don’t even know where to begin. The early part of filming it was just getting to know and trust Marc and Matt (McGorry, co-star) and Ruben O’Malley our DP to feel like I was in good hands and could let go and go to all those crazy places. Film is the ultimate collaboration and you can’t act in a vacuum, so I needed to feel good with all of them. But I felt like we had the same vibe in mind for the film and so I was able to let go of any fear I might have and drop into it. The second thing that was challenging was the fact that it really was emotional for me. Playing these scenes it kind of wrecks you a little bit. It’s hard to shake. I’m not one of those people that can shake it off and go home and feel fine – it takes me a couple of days to get rid of some of those emotions.
You and Matt McGorry have not only incredible chemistry, but also a very natural seeming connection. How were you able to get so comfortable in such a short amount of time?
AH: Matt and I clicked right away when we met. He’s a great guy and easy to roll with. He’s a pro, he’s a lovely guy and he’s a gentleman and a great actor. I had been cast in the role first and then Marc asked me to come in and do a chemistry read with four different actors and Matt was one of them. It was interesting for me to flip it and be on the other side of the casting process. Not that it was my decision at all, but they did ask for my input after the chemistry read and I was so pleased that their first choice was Matt because he was my first choice too. I just felt that ease with him, it was just an easy connection and he made me laugh.
You really allow yourself to go no holds barred with Ellen both emotionally and physically but never is a gratuitous way – was there anything that Marc or the script required that you wouldn’t do?
AH: Not do? Not off the top of my head. But Marc didn’t want to deal with something graphic – that was never what it was about. We talked about that before we even went into this and we were very much on the same page about that. But at the same time I’m not the kind of actress and I knew we weren’t making the kind of film where you’re gonna be having sex with your bra on or the sheet’s up to cover the perfect bits for the post sex chit-chat – that takes the realness right out and throws it out the window for me. We were inspired by Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands and we just wanted to make a real messy film and that means you roll with what it is. People have sex, people take a shower, people live their lives and it can be messy, so we just went for it.
I love the Cassavetes angle….
AH: We called the scene, when I have the big blow up with Henry and he comes in at night and I’m in bed and we fight and I get dressed and I go to Travis’s apartment in the middle of the night and I come in and we barely say anything and we make out against the wall and go on the wall, we call that our Cassavetes scene. It was totally handheld and we barely talked about it. We blocked in a broad way and we understood the broad strokes of what was going to happen and then we just shot it – it was amazing and so much fun.
Dislike of scaffolding – what was your take on Ellen’s phobia?
AH: I don’t think that was in the script, but I think that was something Marc said to me on the day. He said, ‘Ellen’s the kind of person who might not want to go under scaffolding’ and I was like ‘Sure – that’s fun. Let’s do that.’ I didn’t really think about it too much, but honestly I live in New York and I’m a New Yorker and I hate going under them. I jaywalk on my block to avoid scaffolding and it’s not because I have a phobia but it’s kind of gross under there. (Laughs) So I get it – it’s not a reach for me, you know?
The end of the film made me ask myself the question is it better to find a kind of passion and love that Matt’s character calls ‘indescribable’ and loose it or simply to never have found it in the first place – what are your thoughts?
AH: Oh, I definitely think you have to go for it and live those experiences. It’s definitely better to have loved as indescribable and then moved on through it. I think life is big and huge and open for adventures and I’m all for that kind of stuff – not that I’m not advocating infidelity at all. I’m a mom and in parenting one of my philosophies is I would rather do things than have things – I would rather take adventures with my kids than buy them the latest gadget. I think that speaks a little bit to what you’re saying. But I think it would be sad never to have lived an indescribable love. For me the film is heartbreaking, but it’s also beautiful. I find it reassuring how Ellen decides to hang on to that love and redevelop that love for her husband because it is there. And it just speaks to the fact that love exists in all kinds of forms and life is complicated and messy and it’s okay and you can love two people at the same time. That’s the way life is sometimes – everything doesn’t get all tied up in a bow all neatly.
You’ve worked with the likes of Jeremy Saulnier in Blue Ruin and Steve McQueen in Shame – what makes a good director for you and how was Marc on this film?
AH: That’s a great question because I love the collaboration that is filmmaking. It’s different than TV – TV’s a collaboration also, but it’s different. And the director just sets the tone and drives the boat and it’s so much fun to get on board. Even with Shame I was in it for five minutes, but to get a chance to work with someone like Steve McQueen? Yeah – of course! And I just have great admiration for all these guys. I also just worked with Todd Haynes for a few days on his next film Wonderstruck, which was also a dream come true. I feel so fortunate to be able to work with these great talents. But Marc was lovely and clear and sensitive and also very generous in his sharing of the story with us. Because he wasn’t just the director – he wrote it. This was his baby, but it really became our baby and from the minute I got the role it was ‘what do you think?’ It was never Marc dictating down to me what the scene was going to be or what a moment meant – we discovered it together.
What’s next for you?
AH: I’m actually really busy right now. I just did Wonderstruck and wait till you see this this film – it’s going to be amazing. Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams are such great actors. I play Michelle Williams sister and it’s just a magical amazing beautiful story. I am also working on – and you’re gonna have to get Netflix – I’m doing a new series called 13 Reasons Why and one of the Executive Producers is Tom McCarthy who just won the Oscar for Spotlight. So he directed the first two episodes and it’s a great and interesting project we’re shooting and will probably be out next spring.
HOW HE FELL IN LOVE IS CURRENTLY PLAYING IN THEATERS IN LA, NEW YORK AND SELECT CITES AND IS AVAILABLE FOR iTUNES PREORDER ON AUGUST 16 FROM MONUMENT RELEASING.