Interview: ‘Entanglement’ Star Jess Weixler On Off The Norm Characters, The Power Of ‘Teeth’ & Female Filmmakers On Her To-Do List

Anyone who knows me as a passionate movie geek knows I go professionally ga-ga over the layered work of actress Jess Weixler.  Having been on my movie radar since her groundbreaking turn as a teen with a little something extra in the vagina dentata steeped sleeper Teeth, the classically trained Juilliard graduate has gone on to create a multitude of memorable performances that do not disappoint.  From her chemistry ridden pairing with Jason Ritter in Peter And Vandy to her tasty turn as the sister of Jessica Chastain in The Disappearance Eleanor Rigby (Her and Them!) and even getting behind the camera to co-write and co-direct the quirky comedy Apartment Troubles (formerly Trouble Dolls!), Weixler and her work continue to captivate.  (Plus her five-star role in the sassy outing Free Samples earned her the coveted #1 spot on my Top Five Female Performances of 2012!)

Her latest film entitled Entanglement (opening on Feb. 9 from Dark Star Pictures) is no different, with Weixler once again challenging the stereotypes of the standard romantic comedy by playing a lovable character named Hanna, a spirited girl who helps lead man Thomas Middleditch try to come out of his miserable funk but is also not all she seems to be.  Since her character work is so layered and well-woven within the story itself it’s impossible to dissect it fully without giving away some of the major plot details, so the closed off parts of the following interview should be read after fully seeing the film.  (AKA DETAILS DO FOLLOW BELOW – LOOK FOR THE SPOILER ALERTS!)  But from her take on character quirks to candid observations about various twists and turns within the film, this is an interview that dares to dig as deep as Weixler’s work itself to expose the genius underneath.  (Plus we add some past films and female focused writing/directing ‘hope-to-work-with’ chatter to boot!)  Not just an incredible actress, but also a genuinely charming person, here’s the ever exceptional…


There’s always something unique when you’re in a film that I look for be it the character you play, like Hanna in Entanglement, or the movie itself that always feels like a careful choice of someone paying attention – what do you look for when seeking out work?

JW: First off – thank you for watching my stuff!  I’m always looking for something a little off of the norm.  Entanglement is probably considered a romantic comedy, but it takes all those tropes – like my character being sassy, confident, quirky and kind of a rebel – all those idealized cool and cute things and turns them on their head a bit. (Laughs)

I felt like there’s gotta be something going on…

JW: Yeah – like this is going TOO perfectly!  (Laughs)  She’s SO understanding!




When you read the script for Entanglement was there a point before the end when you got the twist of your character?

JW: What’s funny is I got the script and for some reason I didn’t know which character I was supposed to be looking at and I thought I was up for the best friend.  Because that’s closer to what I usually play – not the idealized sexy one but the friend.  But I read it and thought where is this going? Is this a story about some guy who magically finds the person who is right for him like in Serendipity that really cheesy 90’s movie?  Is that what it’s about?  And then when it wasn’t I thought this is great because it feels like it’s more of a metaphor – I see it as kind of a fable.  But I’ve done this.  I’ve idealized someone in my head and made up who they are and then got to know them and thought I just made up all that other stuff about them.

How did Hanna coming from the mind of Ben inform the creation of the character for you?

JW: I wanted her to start to feel more and more real as it went on.  She started a bit more as a clever funny little rebel and grew into what makes a person feel whole.  And also have vulnerabilities and knowing that he was diving more and more into what he needed and was missing from his own life.  He wasn’t just missing that he wasn’t having fun or not being confident or brave, he’s also missing being vulnerable and honest with himself.  But it’s fascinating to me that he made up so much specific stuff as the film goes on.

Curious about your character’s use of the E-Cigarette – what was the thought behind that choice?

JW: I don’t know!  (Laughs)  Probably that smoking looks cool and feels cool, but Ben thinks ‘Oh, but it does give you cancer!’  So probably an E-Cigarette would be okay – it’s like the neurotic version of being bad.  (Laughs)

Hanna was created in the mind of Ben and she’s seemingly fearless, bold, daring and takes pride and joy in pushing the stifled Ben lovingly out of his comfort zone – why does that type of strong female engage the male mind of someone like Ben?

JW: I think it’s the idea – in both directions male and female – that you think that somebody else can complete you.  That you need to meet a partner who is your soulmate.  I think it’s funny that here it starts as a sister figure that would complete him.  If he would just have had a sister growing up to help him get in touch with what is going on with girls, how to be comfortable around the opposite sex and be informed about what we’re thinking.  I mean I’m an only child, but I imagine siblings in my mind would just be so much fun.  I’m sure there are lots of not fun things also, but there’s a great comfort in having someone by your side.

We feel for Ben when he realizes the woman of his dreams is only in his mind, but for me I also strangely feel for Hanna who in herself is not real but kinda is – what would you say that is attributed to?  It could just be me…

JW:  (Laughs)  No, I’m so glad that you felt bad – I had to become one with him again.  The Velveteen Rabbit is such a good book to talk about in the movie, when he reads the book to me, because you do have to say goodbye to your make believe friends at a certain point, but you love them all the same.  It’s like saying goodbye to Santa Claus as a kid – I still have a real place in my heart for him even though I don’t believe he’s a man.  A dude…on the roof.  (Laughs)  I don’t believe there’s a dude on the roof!

Did you ever feel like Ben’s version of Hanna he created maybe so he wouldn’t have to face the real one?

JW: I guess I didn’t think about that. In my mind he didn’t really need the real Hanna because the real Hanna is just a woman living her own life. He would have to make a new friend who would be willing to talk about being adopted and probably wouldn’t take him on as a brother just because this thing happened. He already has a friend – I think that’s the point. He doesn’t need to make a new friend, he needs to see the one’s that are already there.




Past work – you’ve been asked about Teeth a million times over but I was curious when you first heard about it and then read it what made you ultimately say yes to the part?

JW: Oddly also when I read Teeth, I did not know I was reading for Dawn.  I thought I was auditioning for the friend.  It was basically my first job – I had done one other film The Big Bad Swim a very indie movie.  I was completely shocked by the script and I was like this is so weird and crazy and I can’t tell if this was like a B-horror movie, but I’ll just go an audition for the friend.  And then I went in there and Mitchell (Lichtenstein, Writer/Director) while I was in the room said, ‘You know, I see you more as Dawn, the girl with the teeth in her vagina.’  (Laughs)  I was like I don’t know why!  But I guess it’s cool to audition for the lead.  I didn’t have time to think about it and he handed me the pages and said, ‘Go look at them in the waiting room for however long you want.’  So I did and then I didn’t think about it too much after.  But when I got it I definitely was freaked – I was totally freaked out.  I was like I don’t know if I should do this.  I don’t know if I should be the girl with teeth in her vagina – I’m gonna get made fun of for the rest of my life.  And I met up with Mitchell and it just seemed more and more cool the more we talked about it.  It felt more like an amazing fable about the monsters feminine and just talking about why all these cultures actually had this myth – especially some of these African cultures.  It was amazing to understand and really think about why and turn that one on its head a bit too to say what if it was a great thing?  If women could just protect themselves and men wouldn’t rape as much because men knew they couldn’t be abusive, you know?  But I thought this is so smart and not a B-horror movie and I’ve become increasingly proud of making that movie as time has gone on.

You should be – it’s awesome and you’re great in it!

JW: Thanks.  Especially now!

I love the chemistry and real-life feel between you and Jason Ritter for Peter And Vandy – did a connection come right away?

JW: We just kind of became peas in a pod – we have very similar senses of humor.  He’s so ridiculous and ridiculous is just my thing and that’s the way he functions.  So we really enjoyed each other so much as people that it made it really comfortable to fall into fashioning a partnership where you’ve been with somebody for a long time and what that does to you.

Free Samples is a total hidden gem with your performance a full on five-star turn as the caustic lead gal – where are on earth did you come across that savory script and project?

JW: Actually that one came to me through Jesse Eisenberg.  He was friends with the writer and I don’t even remember how but he approached me and said, ‘My buddy Jim Beggarly just finished this script and he’s imagined you for the role.’  I’m like WHAT?  I’ve never had anybody say that.  I don’t know if he imagined me in the role when he was writing it…hopefully not too much!  (Laughs)  She such an asshole!  But it was like Jesse Eisenberg you’re turning into a major star right now with The Social Network and everything and you’re STILL doing these itty, bitty indie movies because you love them and your asking me to do one with you?  I almost didn’t have to read the script…but I loved the script!

Trouble Dolls, which then changed to Apartment Troubles, marked you not only acting but also co-writing and co-directing too.  With so few female screenwriters and directors when will we see more amazing Jess Weixler work behind the camera again?

JW: Hopefully sometime.  I’m writing two things right now and one of them has reached a major standstill until I pull myself together to figure out what to do with it.  But the other one I’m writing with my longtime acting coach whose name is Alan Savage and he’s in New York.  He’s become one of my best friends over the last decade and that’s probably what I’m really gonna dive into once I’m done shooting The Son.  We talked about it in between things, but as soon as I wrap shooting we’ll try to iron it out and see what happens.  But I do want to keep making movies.  It’s funny, after you’ve made one you realize how much work it is!  (Laughs)  With Trouble Dolls, which is definitely my preferred title even though now you can only find it under the name Apartment Troubles, it happened by kismet living with Jenny (Prediger, Co-Writer/Director/Star) and having producers who were excited to have fun making something.  We had such free reign over making something that’s almost like a melancholy buddy comedy – it’s pretty whack-a-doodle.  But I learned as it went on that it takes FOREVER to finish a film.  I knew the whole feeling of shooting and as we were shooting it was just the greatest time and I felt confident and enjoyed every step of it and once we hit post – oh my god.  It was great, but editing is just a HUGE can of worms!  (Laughs)  It took months – it just consumes your life.  So now that I know what I’m getting into I really want to make sure the next time I make a script that I’ve really marinated it and thought about it and am prepared to spend that much time on.

In a time of female voices being heard and women hopefully getting more opportunities in more male driven areas, who are some of your favorite female writers and directors would you like to work with in the future?

JW: Oh my gosh – let me count the ways!  Well, Reed Morano shot Free Samples, the movie you love, and now she’s an incredible director.  She directed The Handmaid’s Tale and is working on all these films and I would LOVE to work with Reed again. I really want to work with Sarah Adina Smith – she did Buster’s Mal Heart.  I really want to work with her one day and she knows it and hopefully that day will come.  Amy Seimetz who’s doing The Girlfriend Experience is incredible – we worked together on Alexander The Last and played sisters over a decade ago.  Then of course there’s Dee Rees who did Mudbound.  I don’t know if she has any need for a white girl (laughs), but I would love to work with her.  Also Niki Caro who did The Zookeeper’s Wife with my friend Jessica Chastain.  I got to hang out and talk with her and I just think she’s going to be exploding in the next few years – such sensitivity.  Greta Gerwig of course – love that she’s being recognized.  Who are some of the female filmmakers on your mind right now?

High profile would be Patty Jenkins and Kathryn Bigelow.  But also someone like Ana Lily Amirpour who did A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

JW: Yeah – she’s so cool.  And A Girl Who Walks Home Alone At Night is so good – she’s incredible.

So finally what’s next for you?

JW: As I said I’m currently working on The Son and we’re shooting the second season.  It’s been great shooting it and I do think they’ve taken a page from what’s going on and written the women’s roles in a western much better – there’s a lot of beautiful stuff for women to do in this very masculine western world.  Also I have a movie at SXSW that premiered at TIFF called Who We Are Now that stars Julianne Nicholson and she is brilliant.




I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

  1. No Comments