Interview with Writer/Director Rebecca Miller (Maggie’s Plan)

It was an honor sitting down with writer/director Rebecca Miller to talk about her film “Maggie’s Plan”, which opened in the USA on May 20th, and opens in Canada on June 10th. The film stars Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore, Travis Fimmel, Bill Hader, and Maya Rudolph.

I really enjoyed the film “Maggie’s Plan”. It’s an excellent comedy about life and relationships. It’s slapstick with a lot of depth. I recommend it to all.

rebeccamillerInterview with Rebecca Miller:

Matthew Toffolo: What inspired you to tell this story and make this movie?

Rebecca Miller: I loved the geometry of this film. The idea of how a woman realizes her husband is perfect for his ex-wife really appealed to me. I loved how this story gave me a lot of room to write. I had a rich triangle in the concept, but I also had a lot of room to work with in writing the different characters and situations.

MT: It appears that one of the themes of your film is that similar personalities are meant to be couples. The two intellectuals of the film end up together, and it appears that the two spiritualists of the film will end up together? Was that your main intention?

RM: The ending is up for the audience to interpret. I don’t ever want to have a hard fast theme with anything that I make. So I guess that’s what happens, and you’re right, but I tend to let the audience decide that.

MT: The character of Maggie is unique in many ways as she’s a true original on screen and I can’t remember anyone ever like her. Who is Maggie?

RM: Maggie is the facilitator of life. She feels that she’s the bridge of art and commerce. There’s a key moment in the film where Maggie is walking on a bridge with John in the park and I think that’s quite important – bridging two worlds. I think that Maggie really wants people to be the best of themselves. Some of her actions may seem outrageous and counter-intuitive at first, but her intentions lie in a positive end. That’s where her goodness lies.

PHOTO: Greta Gerwig as Maggie in “Maggie’s Plan”:

greta_maggiesplan.jpg

MT: What films did you watch in preparation, inspiration, and influence before you shot “Maggie’s Plan”?

RM: I watched a lot of films. “His Gal Friday (1940)”, “It Happened One Night (1934)”, “Adam’s Rib (1949)”. Movies where there are salty, fun dialogue and the pace bubbles along.

Then I watched some of Éric Rohmer’s film like “Claire’s Knee (1969)” and “My Night with Maud (1970)”, where people actually get to talk. That’s what people do: they talk about ideas, about each other, about themselves. We talk. That’s what we do. So it’s important to show that in film.

MT: How many rehearsal days did you have for Maggie’s Plan, and how many days of principal photography?

RM: We rehearsed for two weeks, but it wasn’t constant. I worked with actors at 2-3 hours at a time. It all depended on their schedule. So it was on and off for two weeks. Then we shot the film in 24 days.

MT: Tell us about your relationship with your costumer designer Malgosia Turzanska. The wardrobe of Maggie (Greta Gerwig) and Georgette (Julianne Moore) in particular was, frankly, kind of amazing – they tell you everything that you need to know about these characters in a single frame.

RM: I did not yet know Malgosia before this film. I couldn’t work with my regular costume designer because of her schedule. When I met with Malgosia for the first time, she came to the meeting not with clothes but brought images with her like cracked ice and colours. Her ideas were so fresh and creative and poetic. She gave each character in the film their own world. She got under the skin of the characters and started with the inside out.

She then began sketching the designs of each person’s outfits. It was a very close collaboration. She was enormously creative and enormously brave.

We had this idea that Georgette was this Viking Queen. Like she came from the north. A strong, powerful person but with a delicacy about her.

Malgosia is just a brilliant, brilliant person.

PHOTO: Julianne Moore as Georgette in Maggie’s Plan:

julianne_moore_maggies_plan.jpg

MT: What is the next film for you?

RM: I am always open to being surprised and I’m hoping that I can surprise people. My motivation to make movies is so I can keep learning and keep the learning curve steep. I don’t know what’s next but I want to keep surprising myself and I want to keep learning.
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Rebecca Miller is known for The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (2009), Personal Velocity (2002) and The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005). She has been married to Daniel Day-Lewis since November 13, 1996. They have two children. She is the daughter of playwright Arthur Miller and photographer Inge Morath.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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