From director Jesse Peretz and based on the novel by Nick Hornby, the dramedy Juliet, Naked follows Annie (Rose Byrne), the curator of a museum in a small English town, and Duncan (Chris O’Dowd), an obsessive fan who aspires to be the world’s foremost expert on reclusive American singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke) and spends all of his free time maintaining a website dedicated to the rocker. Feeling stuck after 15 years together, Annie acts out, sparking a fight with Duncan, which surprisingly and unexpectedly lands her straight into the path of Tucker Crowe.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Rose Byrne talked about the appeal of Juliet, Naked and the work of Nick Hornby, what director Jesse Peretz brought to this project, as a musician himself, working with Chris O’Dowd and Ethan Hawke, her most fun scene to shoot, and what music means to her, in her own life. She also talked about what drew her to Instant Family (out in theaters on November 16th) and her experience working with Mark Wahlberg, and her hope that she’ll be teaming up with Tiffany Haddish for Limited Partners.
Collider: I really tremendously enjoyed this film and thought it was just delightful!
ROSE BYRNE: Aww, thanks so much! I’m so pleased. I’m glad you liked it.
How did this come your way?
BYRNE: I had read the book, and then, when the film started to float around, I immediately put my hand up and said that I would like to meet on it. So, I met pretty early with Jesse [Peretz], the director.
What was it about this story and character, in particular, that made you want to throw your hat into the ring for it?
BYRNE: It’s an unlikely love story. It’s very witty and very entertaining. There’s a tone that Nick Hornby captures that is quintessential, and I think it’s really hard to do. There’s not that many writers that you immediately know their tone and voice succinctly. It’s incredible that he’s carved that out for himself. I’ve been a fan. I’ve enjoyed his novels. I’ve enjoyed his films. He’s such an accomplished screenwriter, as well. There were many aspects to it. And the character of Annie was challenging to try to bring to the screen, with these two big personalities. I wanted to try to make sure that she wasn’t lost in their noise, but instead came out like the victor. I really hope we achieved that.
Definitely! Was it ever hard to find the level of frustration that she has with her boyfriend, but to have her be so internal with frustration and not just completely explode?
BYRNE: How much do we put up with, in relationships? You put up with these things because a person is the sum of a lot of parts. But then, if it’s starting to erode and infringe upon your communication and you can’t function because you’re only talking about Tucker Crowe, it becomes impossible to stay in the relationship, and we meet them at that point. She also does a very rebellious act, by writing this review. It’s like her protest, to be heard, to be seen, and to say “enough.” It works, in the sense that it was the first step to the beginning of her adventure.
I think that by the time that the person you love has a room dedicated to somebody else, you’re entitled to get upset and act out, and be forgiven for that.
BYRNE: Exactly! You should be slightly concerned.
I love how the film’s director, Jesse Peretz, is a musician himself. What made him uniquely qualified to tell this story, and how did you find the experience, working and collaborating with him?
BYRNE: I loved working with Jesse. He’s so collaborative. He’s funny. He’s got great knowledge about music, great taste in music and great experience, since he’s done it live, being in bands, and he’s directed a gazillion music videos. He’s a cultured guy, but he’s not pretentious. He’s very experienced, particularly with female protagonists. He’s been nominated, just recently, for the Emmys for the pilot of Glow, and he was a producer and director for Girls, for so many years. Judd [Apatow] is very good at matching directors with material. He did the same thing with Bridesmaids and Paul Feig. I think he was very clever, in the way he gravitated towards bringing Jesse to this project.