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Interview: 'Touchy Feely' Star Rosemarie DeWitt On Reverse Character Arcs, Gil Kenan's 'Poltergeist' Remake & More

The Playlist By Charlie Schmidlin | The Playlist September 3, 2013 at 12:08PM

A last-minute casting switch may have led actress Rosemarie DeWitt to Lynn Shelton’s fourth feature “Your Sister’s Sister,” co-starring Emily Blunt and Mark Duplass, but the gamble paid off tremendously — so much so that Shelton envisioned DeWitt specifically when it came to writing her follow-up, “Touchy Feely.” Following Abby, a massage therapist who develops a repulsion to skin on the eve of moving in with her boyfriend (Scoot McNairy), the drama premiered at Sundance this past year (our review here), and boasts a great cast including Allison Janney, Josh Pais, Ellen Page, and Ron Livingston.
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Rosemarie Dewitt, Touchy Feely

Speaking of trying different things, you're going into horror for really the first time next in “Poltergeist.” Was your previous aversion to the genre just a coincidence?
Totally coincidental. I mean, it's not like I sought it out; you kind of work with the things that are coming your way. But I can't lie — I'm scared. I think the original movie is perfect, I haven't seen it in a hundred years, and I won't watch it because I don't want it in my head. So I can't tell you how true to the original it is, because I don't remember the film with that kind of clarity, but I'm really excited to work with this director, and the writer, David Lindsay-Abaire, who wrote the script. I'm a huge fan of his from my days in theatre.

Did you work in any of his plays?
I auditioned for some of them a couple times — "Rabbit Hole" I auditioned for… there was something else too, but I can only remember being in the room and being scared. [laugh] Anyway, I've just been in awe of his talent, and the script is really great. I think Sam Rockwell is doing it too, so that's all I need — a good script and Sam Rockwell. So I say I'm scared, but I can handle the scrutiny. People are going to tear it apart, and there are worse things in life to experience, but you know, there's an obligation — you want to give people something exciting. If you do a movie like [“Touchy Feely”] and no one gets it, it's no big deal. If you do a movie like "Poltergeist" and no one understands it, something's wrong. Someone told me earlier that because I do all of these “navel-gazing character dramas,” blogs were saying the film’s just going to be a bunch of ghosts hanging around talking about their problems.

Are you a big horror fan? How up to date are you with the current slate of remakes?
As a younger person, I probably saw a lot more stuff, but now I just don't. That's just not my genre, but my husband Ron Livingston is in “The Conjuring,” and I went to the premiere and I screamed out loud in the movie theatre. It was really fun. And as you get older — like, I'm already scared. I'm scared to take out the trash. But I think young people get that thrill. And that premiere was around the time I was talking about "Poltergeist" and I was thinking, "I wanna be part of doing that to an audience." It's really character-driven, and I think the version that they're going after is a real movie that just happens to be in the genre. I love when they do that with action movies, horror movies — all films across the board.

You just reminded me of your slowly-building scene with Ron [as Abby’s former boyfriend] toward the end of “Touchy Feely.” Being friends with Lynn beforehand, did she cast him based on your relationship with him?
I don't think so; I think it had more to do with her perception from his films in one way. When we were promoting “Your Sister’s Sister,” she said she had a really nice conversation with him at Sundance and there was something in his essence that she wanted. Although there was a part of me that was weary about doing it, because I hate watching real-life couples in movies, I thought it worked okay. Abby had known his character for a long time, so they didn't have any meet-cute scenarios — it was believable.

“Touchy Feely” is on iTunes and VOD now, and hits theatres on Sept. 6th.

This article is related to: Interviews, Interviews, Rosemarie DeWitt, Touchy Feely


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