By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com April 4, 2012 at 12:20PM
Indie darling Greta Gerwig is not, whatever her screen persona might suggest, an actress without ambition. Since her debut with a small role in Joe Swanberg's "LOL," she's been rising steadily through the ranks, working with many of the heavyweights of the so-called "mumblecore" movement like the Duplass Brothers and Ti West, moving into the mainstream with Noah Baumbach's "Greenberg," and even taking supporting roles in big studio comedies like "No Strings Attached" and "Arthur." And at the moment, she's on a run of working with a string of some of the most acclaimed filmmakers today: reuniting with Baumbach on HBO pilot "The Corrections," appearing in Woody Allen's "To Rome With Love," and leading the long-awaited return of Whit Stillman with "Damsels In Distress," which opens this Friday.
And all that time, she's kept her oar in behind the scenes as well: she co-wrote indies "Hannah Takes the Stairs" and "Northern Comfort," and co-produced and co-directed "Nights and Weekends" with Swanberg. But it looks like she's generated another project. The AV Club talked to Gerwig when she was doing the press rounds for 'Damsels,' and the actress told them that she's written another movie that has already rolled and wrapped. "I wrote a film, and I shot it over the fall. And it should be in festivals this fall, or maybe we’ll wait until Sundance. I wanted to do it very under-the-radar. I acted in it and I wrote it. So that’ll be a taste of my writing."
Gerwig started off as a playwright, and for all her reputation as a cast member in semi-improvised films, has a real respect for meticulously written stuff -- unsurprising, considering she's worked with Baumbach, Allen and Stillman of late. She tells AV Club, "I don’t like hyper-naturalism. I don’t like things that feel unwritten, actually. But I like things that closely imitate life but are 'off' enough to almost seem absurd. I loved 'Margaret,' and I love Kenneth Lonergan’s stuff because it sounds like life, kind of. But all the word choices are very precise, and the rhythms are very precise. So it sounds like casual poetry. That’s the kind of writing I strive for, though I don’t always achieve it. My favorite writer is Mike Leigh. I’m attracted to Mike Leigh because I love his work, but also it’s just interesting. I didn’t know how he wrote what he wrote, and when I found out that he would build characters with the actors through improv and then take it and shape it, that made total sense to me, because so much of the acting work I did was almost like sketching for writing."
Somewhere between Kenneth Lonergan and Mike Leigh? Yep, consider us sold. Details are still thin on the ground -- she says her film is "secret and untitled," but don't be surprised to see some of her previous collaborators turn up in the project. It sounds like it could emerge as early as Toronto this year, but as she says, Sundance is a possibility too. Head over to AV Club for more from Gerwig, or you can read our own interview with the star here.