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Entries in Garden State (2)

Thursday
Jun182015

Ann Dowd: Quick Notes on Six Roles

The Film Experience is proud to turn today over to the great actress Ann Dowd. Enjoy... 

The cast of "Garden State"

- by Ann Dowd

Nathaniel tells me these are his favorite characters from my filmography and since I've taken over The Film Experience for the day, here are quick notes on each.

"Olivia" in Garden State (2004)
Loved. Zach Braff really had it together- wrote, directed, starred in. He was very clear about what he wanted which is always a pleasure.

"Cookie Kelly" in Freaks and Geeks (2000)
Hysterical. Writers, actors, everybody was talented and young and funny. I love that role - she was delicious and twisted.



 

"Sister Maureen 'Mo' Brody" in Nothing Sacred (1997)
Sister Maureen was a wonderful role, so well written, a lovely cast. I have two aunts who are Catholic Ursuline sisters so I know something about that world – how educated they are, how generous and caring and complicated they are. The way the role was conceived by Bill Cain reflected the truth about that world and it was a pleasure to work on it. 

"Sandra" in Compliance (2012)
Another beautifully written role. I have tremendous empathy for that character, not having a guidance system of her own. How derailed her life became. Great director Craig Zobel.


"Estabrooks Masters" in Masters of Sex (2013)
Oh my gosh, what I remember most about the first season is just the feeling of hitting that ground running. Michelle Ashford's writing is great. A really terrific cast - Michael Sheen, Lizzy Caplan, Caitlin FitzGerald. The stories were very strong and I love the character of Estabrooks. She's clear and unfaltering and also able to admit her mistakes, apologize and then move forward. Loved her.

 

"Patti" in The Leftovers (2014)
We already spoke at length about this role but there was a lot of camarederie on set with Amy, Liv, and Justin. The atmosphere was so surreal -- keep in mind that sometimes we were shooting in the middle of the night in the cul-de-sac somewhere 45 minutes out of the city -- no sense of time or space. On one of the first days of shooting the first A.D. Vebe Borge didn't speak in solidary with the Guilty Remnant. How's that for commitment?

Sunday
Jul312011

Take Three: Peter Sarsgaard

Craig here with Take Three. This week: Peter Sarsgaard

Take One: Garden State (2004)
Including Garden State as a Take Three take meant two things: watching one of Sarsgaard’s very best supporting performances again and watching the actual film again. The charm of the former outweighed the task of the latter. Despite essentially disliking the film, Sarsgaard makes it worth seeing. You get no sad, woe-is-me moping from him, nor do you get “original” moments of screechy-unique arm waving. His character, Mark, a grave digger, comes from the ‘insta-best friend’ vault of movie characters, but it’s what Sarsgaard does with it that makes all the difference. He’s essentially present to take a face full of Braff’s woefulness. During an abysmal rainy shout-a-thon into a large pit, he's on gooseberry duty, forced to awkwardly stand around whilst Braff and Portman snog each other’s faces off. But Sarsgaard lingers with style.

Mark still lives at home with his mother, parties hard with booze and pot and steals jewelry from dead people. Like everyone else in the film he has additional personality traits that, per Braff’s MO, make each and every character come across as utterly original. But Sarsgaard’s the only actor who doesn’t make a self-examining show of them. Instead he absorbs the quirks of character into performance and makes Mark both likeable and grounded. 

Take Two: Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
Boys Don’t Cry is the first taste many of us got of Sarsgaard’s acting prowess. He’d been in a few independent movies beforehand (including Another Day in Paradise and Desert Blue for example) and he had played a murdered teen in 1995’s Dead Man Walking but Kimberly Pierce’s film was his first real flag planted firmly in the movie map. He was rightly lauded for his part in the story of murdered transman Brandon Teena (Hilary Swank in Oscar-winning form). As John Lotter, the central hateful antagonist, he couldn’t have been more charismatically devious.

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