Over the past five years, Mary-Louise Parker has played a drug dealing mom on Showtime’s hit series Weeds. You’d think with all the action on that show she’d be a natural running around huge cargo containers while getting shot at by snipers. But according to Parker, “The costume designer just laughs everytime she looks at me because she’s from New York and she knows me from the theater and I usually do things that are with less movement and less artillery.”
Backing up a bit…a few months ago I got to visit the set of Summit Entertainment’s Red (based on the Warren Ellis’ DC Comics graphic novel of the same name) while the production was filming in New Orleans. While on set I got to watch some filming (read my report here) and also interview a lot of the cast. After the jump you can read or listen to the roundtable interview I participated in with Mary-Louise Parker. She talked about how she got involved in Red, working with Bruce Willis, Weeds, and a lot more.
Finally, before getting to the interview, you should watch the trailer for RED because it looks awesome and a lot of fun.
Here’s the full transcript. Click here to listen to the audio from the interview. Red gets released October 15.
Question: Can you talk about the scene you’re shooting just now—and what you’re talking about with Bruce and John?
Mary-Louise Parker: We’re dodging bullets and this is right after we’ve just seen [inaudible] shot and we’re running and the woman who John accused of being out to kill us and everyone thought he was kidding. When we see her she appears and she’s after us.
So that’s who you’re running from, the lady?
MLP: Yeah at this very moment and there’s snipers. There always has to be snipers. The costume designer just laughs everytime she looks at me because she’s from New York and she knows me from the theater and I usually do things that are with less movement and less artillery.
Can you tell us about your character and how she’s similar and different from the one in the comic book?
MLP: I haven’t read the comic book. I didn’t even know there was one until about halfway though. Helen Mirren and I were talking about that actually, who also felt kind of silly. When we had to run she was like, ‘Oh God, we’re both going to get fired.’ The running sequences, it’s a particular kind of humiliation because it’s fun.
A lot of times that’s good though, because the actor doesn’t have to worry about playing off of anything and you can give your own interpretation of the character.
MLP: It’s good to feel stupid sometimes and do things that our out of your comfort zone. It’s a different genre for me and it’s kind of good for me to feel ridiculous.
People firing weapons at you is out of our comfort zone…
MLP: A little bit. Laughs
Why did you choose this film then if it’s kind of out of your comfort zone, what drew you to it?
MLP: I really like the director. I don’t know if you’ve spoken to him yet but he’s really, really intelligent. He was just really kind when I met him and nice and really told me why I should play the part…and kind of really didn’t argue with him. He’s just really, really smart and assembled these really great people. I felt like he really knows how to enlist his intelligence to get you—I don’t know–he’s really hard to argue with I find.
So he wanted the pink pig in advance?
MLP: It’s the best part of the whole movie. John Malkovich with a pink pig is–you can’t get better than that. Then John Malkovich alone and then you add a pink pig.
What did you think when you heard you’d be working with John?
MLP: I did one movie with him years ago and I love him. I’ll do anything with him really. I love him, he’s amazing.
Can you give your take on your characters relationship to Frank?
MLP: Well, it’s kind of like that classic sort of trajectory in this kind of movie where there’s conflict and they’re estranged and they kind of grow to love each other but they don’t show it. Then at the end—it’s kind of like that. But I think the characters are more interesting than that. There’s something really sweet about the way he’s playing the part and he’s kind of irresistible in a way. They’re both really lonely. That’s kind of established from the very beginning in the movie. The way they meet is just classic, lonely losers.
How do they meet?
MLP: On the phone. She works for this, ostensibly what is like Social Security and he’s calling to get his checks that he says he hasn’t gotten. But actually– he has and he just wants to call back and talk to her because she’s friendly on the phone. And they like each other and they both really don’t have anyone to talk to.
So do you get to fire any guns or are you just damsel in distress?
MLP: I don’t. I’m just damseling mostly. I’m not very good with a gun.
What’s the worst part of filming in Toronto and New Orleans?
MLP: I’m so hot right now. I’m so goddamn hot. That’s really the only problem because it’s a great city. It’s really an awesome place, it’s really fattening. Right? It’s really, really fattening.
What about Toronto?
MLP: Toronto I’ve worked in so many times so you kind of just know every store, every hotel, every–it’s really close to New York so it’s awesome for my children so if I have to go home for two days it doesn’t take very much time. Except for Air Canada. Air Canada is the worst part.
I love how you just called them out.
MLP: I know they suck, right? I feel like I sit on a runaway longer than your actual flight. But I actually like Toronto as well.
Some of us watch a certain television show that perhaps your involved with that had a phenomenal finale, the last season.
MLP: Oh, I always wondered what people thought of it because it looked so stupid to me on the page and I loved the other finale so I thought it was going to be really stupid but some people really liked it.
It was great.
MLP: That’s so good, I’m glad! Because I just thought it was really dumb.
Why were you hesitant about it?
MLP: I thought the other ones were so obviously– what are we going to do if she burns down the house? The DEA, which I think was maybe the best one because she’s wearing the jacket when she goes through the mirror and I think that was kind of amazing because you really weren’t expecting that. There’s something almost slapstick about this in a way that worried me. It was a little pratfalley with the golf club and the—but I think it probably cut together okay.
So are you excited to go back?
MLP: Yeah, I love doing that show.
So you already know where it’s going to kind of come from, so is it going to be that same kind of—
MLP: I’m supposed to talk to them today actually. So I probably like will get—
So the script’s already done?
MLP: They have broad strokes for every episode.
When do you typically film the show? What are the months you’re usually filming?
MLP: Usually May, June, July—
So you’re coming up on it actually?
MLP: Yeah, April, end of April til end of July. So I’m going in a few weeks actually.
Getting back into this, how did you–obviously you’ve seen a lot of Bruce Willis movies I’m sure. Did you re-watch any before coming to this or do you have any friends that want to visit you when you are filming with these people?
MLP: Yeah, when you work with somebody that famous everybody wants to know what are they like or—but I know some of the movies that I know because they’re more like NOBODY’S FOOL or like that, because I don’t really watch the big R movies, I haven’t really seen them so much. I loved him from his TV show and some of the smaller movies he’s done. The bigger movies I start to space out in, like, there just so, I don’t really watch those kind of movies so much.
So do you try to geek out with him at all, like ‘Remember that episode of Moonlighting when, you like did that thing?’
MLP: A lot of people actually do that. He does it himself, he’ll bring up—he has a really good memory and he’ll remember things that happened or things that people said to him. He’s also somebody who’s a great storyteller, he and John both. They’re both really fun to talk to because they remember really good stories. I can never remember any good stories when I do an interview they’re like, ‘What funny thing-‘ I can’t remember, but thanks.
Is the chemistry with Bruce pretty instant, or is it something you had to work at?
MLP: You can never really tell, it’s kind of a red herring until you see the project I think. You just know if you like working with someone or not, and he does have a real sweetness about him, I think. You can tell actually when he starts to talk about his family, or his Daughters, or his Wife, and his whole face–really he’s so really kind of a dear.
Would you consider going to Comic-Con this Summer to promote this?
MLP: I would.
Have you ever been?
MLP: I haven’t. I would go for sure. Somebody said that in the book my character is not there or she’s—
She’s there, but mostly in the beginning. This story is so fleshed out from, so expanded, very different…
I assume you’re with Bruce throughout most of the film?
MLP: Yeah entirely, yeah.
Do you get a chance for some comedy moments too? Or is most of the interaction—
MLP: I think most of our stuff is kind of goofy, kind of screwbally, funny…
So do you give some lip back to the guys?
MLP: Oh yeah. Laughs
So how’s the dynamic between the three of you when John Malkovich enters the picture?
MLP: It’s fun, it’s life. Who knows how it will translate, but it’s really fun.
I’m curious, do you get to see Helen firing these guns?
MLP: I was right next to her baby. Laughs That, I did take a picture of on my cell phone, yeah. That was great. It was hilarious. I sent it to my boyfriend. She really did it too. She was holding the gun because we were both laughing. It’s just funny it’s not the kind of thing she normally—
Now that all she’s going to be cast in.
MLP: She’s so good she could really do anything.
Do you want to do shoot em’ up movies?
MLP: Not really. I would do anything if it was well written. People ask me, ‘Why are you doing a show on Showtime?’ Because I’ll do anything really, I don’t really care, I’ll do a show on Nickelodeon if I thought it was well written. Actually Nickelodeon’s kind of awesome.
With more parts being written for women in action roles…
MLP: Yeah, I don’t think anyone honestly would hire me, so I don’t think I have to worry but, if it was well written I would do it. I would do anything.
For more Red coverage: