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Greta Gerwig Says Whit Stillman's 'Damsels In Distress' Will Hit In The Fall

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist January 21, 2011 at 2:53AM

As we discussed in our review from earlier in the week, there's not much notable about "No Strings Attached," which hits theaters today. But it does mark the studio debut of indie darling Greta Gerwig, whose sweet and funny performance is one of the few highlights. She's following it up by starring alongside Russell Brand in a remake of the Dudley Moore comedy "Arthur," but fear not, Gerwig hasn't abandoned the indie world entirely, as she's also starring in "Damsels in Distress," the long-awaited return of independent film legend Whit Stillman.
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As we discussed in our review from earlier in the week, there's not much notable about "No Strings Attached," which hits theaters today. But it does mark the studio debut of indie darling Greta Gerwig, whose sweet and funny performance is one of the few highlights. She's following it up by starring alongside Russell Brand in a remake of the Dudley Moore comedy "Arthur," but fear not, Gerwig hasn't abandoned the indie world entirely, as she's also starring in "Damsels in Distress," the long-awaited return of independent film legend Whit Stillman.

Gerwig spoke to Collider about "No Strings Attached," and they managed to tease out some new information about the Stillman film from the actress. Firstly, and most importantly, the film seems to be set for a fall release, with a debut at a film festival, possibly Toronto, looking like a lock. As for "Damsels in Distress," Gerwig seems as excited as the rest of us that the director's behind the camera again: "I was waiting for a very long time for that man, Whit Stillman to make another movie, and then I got to be in it!... It's very cool. I utterly worship him as a writer and as a film maker."

Gerwig also confirmed some previously rumored plot details about the project: "I play a character named Violet. It takes place at a liberal arts college on the East Coast and I run a suicide prevention centre where I help suicidal and depressed students overcome their tendencies through staging musicals with them, and teaching them how to tap dance and sing in musicals. And helping them dress well and wear nice perfume. And I have a congery of girls, that kind of follow me around. But then it’s kind of the perils of love, and just these wonderfully eccentric characters."

Of course, there are certainly challenges with working with one of your idols, as Gerwig acknowledges, but the actress seems to have gotten the hang of Stillman's world fairly quickly: "I was so scared when we first started because I so clearly have… you know, the way Chris Eigeman says things, or the way Kate Beckinsale in "The Last Days of Disco" says things, it’s so burned in my mind. The way they talk. And I didn’t want to imitate them, but I was also aware of Whit Stillman speak. But once I got in to it, I think what’s really nice about working with a writer/director is that they really have their own rhythm, so even if it’s a lot of words, once you start doing it it starts becoming natural and organic to you and you kind of start speaking like that all the time. I started saying very Whit Stillmany things as I was making it which I think was really annoying to my roommates. But I would say, 'and yet…' and then I’d keep talking and they were like, 'why are you qualifying everything you’re saying?' and it was like, because now I’m thinking like that."

Gerwig also seems positive about working on "Arthur," describing her character as "one of those New York girls who has always got a lot of things going on, and interesting things happening and too many places to be at once. And I liked… I know those girls, and it was really fun to play someone who is kind of on the go, and just exciting. Like she’s like the city, she’s all heart. I think she’s like New York City, in that, you don’t actually need a lot of money to experience what’s great about New York. For free you can walk around, for free you can go to Central Park, for free you can go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and see Van Goghs and Rembrandt, for free! And I think that was what was neat about playing this character in the world of Arthur, who has all this money. Is that I got to play the voice of, 'but it’s New York City and it’s here for everyone'"

We're obviously more excited about "Damsels in Distress" than "Arthur," but we're still intrigued to see the latter, and it's good to see Gerwig, a genuinely original screen presence, having her career go from strength to strength, even if it seems that a reunion with "Greenberg" director Noah Baumbach on "While You're Young" won't now happen. "Arthur" hits on April 8th, with "Damsels in Distress" following in the fall; head over to Collider for more from the interview.

This article is related to: Films, Actresses, Whit Stillman, Damsels In Distress, Greta Gerwig


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