In a new interview with Ion Cinema, director Eva Vives revealed how she decided to cast Mary in her new film All About Nina, hitting select theaters on September 28. Be sure to click the link to read it in full:
I was wondering what characteristics, sensibilities, perhaps even previous roles help shape your casting choice for Mary Elizabeth Winstead? What were those first conversations like about the character of Nina like?
Vives: Well, most of her work really because I think she’s fantastic and versatile and layered and subtle, which is not valued these days as much as it should be. Specially in women. But the moment that made me fall in love with her (and I told her this) was the scene when she pisses herself in SMASHED. And even more specifically, a particular moment right after she pees when she actually looks relived and happy for a second! I love that. I rewatched it again when I was thinking about casting her and I thought: someone who can play all those emotions so quickly, can also play Nina.
The biggest question for Nina (for any actress) was anger. The very first meeting I had with Mary she said the over-riding emotion for her for Nina was rage. The minute she said that word, I knew we saw her the same way. We had a lot of conversations (on set specially) about how much rage she was keeping down at any given moment. She’s a tough character to play because of all the things she doesn’t say. That’s what I think Mary excels at – and that’s saying a lot because she’s such a great actor overall. I also particularly enjoyed seeing her come to her anger with Nina because Mary is SO not like that. So it was really an amazing transformation to witness.
I would say “action” and she would just… turn into someone else. I remember one day, when we were shooting the first scene with Jay Mohr and Mary said her line: “Have fun jacking off to me tonight.” Jay asked her to say it again and Mary was like: “No, fuck off!” And Jay was like: “No, I just need to get my line right.” We all started laughing because she was so in character that she told him to fuck off which is exactly what Nina would have done.
Lavallee: Can you discuss the collaborative process you had with your cinematographer?
Vives: Thomas Scott Stanton, my wonderful DP, was seminal in helping me choose the look of the film, of course. But also, and since we are acknowledging the contributions that key people have on film, I want to say that Thomas was so so great in dealing with actors.
or example, in the scene in which Nina cries in the bathroom… I went to see Mary in her trailer and as soon as I saw her, I realized she was ready to go. So I left and ran back to the set and the bathroom where Thomas was lighting with his team and I said: “She’s ready. We gotta go.” And he saw my face and understood, I didn’t want to miss it, to let the moment pass with Mary. So he said: Ok.
She came in, I said lets just do one shot and let it go and see what happens and the minute I said action, she started crying like… she hadn’t in years (the character I mean). We let her cry as long as she wanted, until she was done. I checked in with Thomas a couple of times. He gave me the thumbs up. And that was that.
It sounds simple but he could have fucked that up by adjusting lights too much or being precious about something in that moment. He understood that Mary’s performance was integral to the film and if he didnt get that, the rest didnt matter.