The following questions and answers are excerpted from a conversation that followed the NBR screening of Irrational Man.
How did missing certain parts of the script before shooting influence you?
Parker Posey: I came on set thinking the film was one way – kind of light fare – and I sort of had water thrown on me by Woody: He immediately told me that she’s a suffering, lonely woman; she’s very unhappy. And I was kind of shocked at that! He didn’t want me smiling, either, so that went away. We also dropped some funny lines. And Woody is demanding to work with, actually– because he’s a master, he’s at such a level. He’s very loose, but he’s also very experienced at the same time; he’s very jazz. So getting all the things right, and delivering, and moving on, and being kind of lost, it gives you something. it just does.
“I was genuinely – constantly – wondering what the hell was going on between Emma and Joaquin’s characters!”
Can you talk about preparing for your role? In some ways you play the sanest person in the film.
Jamie Blackley: I think not getting the full script kind of helped me in that sense, because I was genuinely – constantly – wondering what the hell was going on between Emma and Joaquin’s characters! I had no idea. Had they kissed? Were they even hanging out? So for me, it was just… Woody was pretty adamant that I not get too frustrated too soon, you know, because I think the thing with my character Roy is that he’s so confident in their relationship that there’d be no reason for him to get totally unsettled early on. It’s not a juvenile relationship; they’ve got their plans that stretch into the future. It was so weird for me, because I just saw the movie yesterday for the first time. I never knew she was speaking to Abe early in the film and saying, “oh, we’re not exclusive.” If I had known that, I’d have been gone! So it was really interesting, and helpful, not to see a full script before shooting the film. I was just constantly wondering what was going on… which I think really influenced the performance, in the end.
How was the experience of working with Joaquin Phoenix?
PP: It was just charming to see him and Woody work together on set. They’re both so idiosyncratic, and loose, and kind of completely into the rhythms and waters of themselves, and the feelings of themselves. And they met in this way that was really sweet. They would sometimes literally meet half way! They’d confer about a scene or a moment by walking toward each other and huddling about the scene. It was a pleasure to watch them together.