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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.
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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