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Parker Posey: Making lots of money can take you away from the struggle to create
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Parker Posey: Making lots of money can take you away from the struggle to create

The so-called “Indie Queen”, the new Woody Allen muse on taking over Snapchat, staying curious, and doing some raw, New Yorker behaviours.

You’ve appeared last two Woody Allen movies, “Café Society” and “Irrational Man”. He famously meets actors for short periods before casting them in his films. How long was yours? 

– It was long for him, almost 4 minutes. I met him 20 years ago for a few of his films in the 90’s (I didn’t expect him to remember) and I’d heard of course, that the meetings are quick, so I had one foot out the door when I met him. I had always felt like I should be in one of his movies so I knew I was right the right kind of actor for him. And I hoped I’d fit in to what he saw for the part of Rita in Irrational Man, and I did. He was nice and witty in the meeting and made me laugh.

Actors who have worked with Woody Allen seem to have a tale about how they connected with him. What’s yours?

– He’d written me a letter describing Rita as a “flirt” and feeling “trapped” as a teacher in this small college. I didn’t know how heavy hearted she’d was in her feelings though, since you read the material and it’s funny, it’s witty. So the first day, he kept repeating “Rita is a lonely woman” and she’s “very unhappy”. Since he doesn’t give the actors the entire script, there’s no way of knowing what the tone is. So, the tone of the movie was a surprise to me. And that he’d save that information for the first day of work, as he directed me, was an exciting way to work! He’s a very subtle director and super intelligent and wants you to be a real in the character…He doesn’t like “acting”, for the acting to show. I loved working with him. He’s the best of the best, a real maestro.

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A resumé of a true Indie Queen: Party Girl (1995), Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused (1993), Noah Baumbach’s Kicking and Screaming (1995), and Greg Mottola’s The Daytrippers (1997)… Photo Credit: Craig McDean

Was it hard for you to find a role you desire as the indie world shifted through the years?

– Well, it became more of a system and more about money, more about a “world market”. So, casting big “A list” stars to secure financing was the shift. The movie’s I’d made in the 90’s had more of a cult success and it was also a time where directors had real producers to get financing as well as support the director with whomever he or she wanted to cast. In the late 90’s, the indie scene became more of a producers medium, and for business people, more of an investment. They weren’t necessarily people who were used to making creative decisions.

How tiring is to be called “The Indie Queen” all the time in your career?

– Well, I’m only called it when I’m doing press. It’s not like people in New York in my neighbourhood ask me what it’s like being called Indie Queen. I never know how to answer it. I think when anyone’s singled out and called something it separates you from the pack. And it wasn’t like being called Indie Queen came with a credit card to finance indie movies! That would’ve been great! I love reading good material.

You say the movies you did in the ’90s didn’t make money, although you became famous for them: “I was famous, and I was counting change.” What was it like to be broke & famous?

– Well, it was authentic! I’m more of an artist though and making lots of money can take you away from the struggle to create. Also, the more money you have as an actor, the more business you have to do. And I’m not good at that at all. I’ve never been good at strategising and much more instinctual or looking for something that resonates in a way that mirrors something in my life that I can portray. I’m just more of an artist and less business minded. I would rather keep counting changes than acting for the bills.

[On being broke & famous in 90’s] It wasn’t like being called Indie Queen came with a credit card to finance indie movies! That would’ve been great!

How have your efforts to make yourself happy developed and changed?

– New York makes me happy. I love being able to connect with the city and people, when I want to. My friends inspire me because a lot of them are always making something. I have to stay curious or I can get stuck and stressed out. I’m mainly happiest when I’m in the process of creating something or talking about inspiring ideas that could help the culture. I’m interested now in what new media holds for storytelling, what it could hold. We’re in the beginnings of a new shift that’s exciting. So keeping myself moving forward makes me happy, thinking of new forms of storytelling, which, you know, connects us all, and helps us relate to each other and not feel so separate.

Last year, New Year’s Eve, you made a resolution that you would join social media. So you followed through a year later. Just in a few months, W Magazine named you The New Indie Queen of Snapchat. What do you think about social media now?

– I like social media now and I see it as a sub culture which is exciting. I love subcultures and we need that voice in America so I think it’s great. I haven’t been completely taken by it, or absorbed by it, but it’s been really nice to see the support and to be creative within the medium.

There were many hater comments and “Parker Posey Doesn’t Understand How The Internet Works” posts after your “Insta-TransGender” selfie. Do you feel like people don’t get your sense of humor?

– I felt so bad about that! Like I didn’t know the language. And of course, I would never want to offend the LGBT community, which I’ve always supported and have hosted galas and have friends who have transitioned and many gay friends, of course. I’d taken several SnapChat photos playing with the language of “Instagram”, like Insta-Scram! and making masks to wear from the SnapChat effects, which is fun and liberating. So when I saw one where I could be a male trucker and put on that mask, and talk on that role, I did! I’m an actor so I was expressing myself with a mask. I couldn’t be more inspired that we are evolving in gender roles like never before, so I guess I took it for granted that not everyone knew this about me. It wasn’t meant to be funny exactly as much as it was liberating, in the way SnapChat can express, with the masks we can put on, that we can be animals (like rabbits), creatures (like vampires), we can shoot light out of our eyes and vomit rainbows out of our mouths! I love that this is popular with kids now and hopefully there will be a shift in social media that’s more playful and ambiguous and creative (that we have many selves and are all dynamic human beings). And I hope people feel more inspired to express instead of being reactive, which is more political and serious. I was so sorry I offended the community, since I consider myself a friend of theirs.

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Posey reunites with Christopher Guest for Mascots, a Netflix comedy that takes a droll peek inside their strange, competitive world. Photo Credit: Craig McDean

Through the years, you became ultimate cultural icon in New York scene. Can you remember first time you exhibited some kind of raw, New Yorker behaviour?

– I had a big pouch of change I wanted to turn into bills and I took it first to this grocery store that has a change machine and theirs was broken. So, I walked to a bank and it was just about to close and the man was just about to lock the glass door and I asked if they had any of those change machines and he said “No” and he could tell I was funny, and I knew he was funny, and it was a gorgeous day, and I said “You call yourself a bank and you can’t make paper money out of change?” and he said “Is this your bank?” and I said “NO! Why would I come to THIS bank?” and he locked the door (still pretending to be serious) and walked back inside. There were windows there and I followed him outside on the sidewalk and knocked on the window and pointed my finger at him and we pretended to yell at each other. And then laughed and waved goodbye. When the weather’s bad, when it’s too hot, those impulses don’t come as easily. But that day was beautiful out and so many strangers were smiling at each other.

I have to stay curious or I can get stuck and stressed out. I’m mainly happiest when I’m in the process of creating something or talking about inspiring ideas that could help the culture.

What is your ultimate New York hideout?

– Well, it’s mainly my apartment! – [Revised, and re-edited from an interview by Ali Tufan Koc]

 

Cover Photo Credit: Bryan Derballa for The New York Times


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