When I saw Another Earth at the Sundance Film Festival, I was so excited by Brit Marling’s performance I ran to see her other film, Sound of My Voice. She is the most compelling new actor I’ve seen in movies for years, and I know she’s going to make it big. Already both of her films are being distributed by Fox Searchlight.
In addition to being a talented actor, Marling co-wrote both scripts. In Another Earth, she plays a woman haunted by the tragedy she caused. When a second Earth is discovered in the sky, she causes a fatal crash while looking at it from her car. With the chance to visit the second Earth, Rhoda (Marling) enters a relationship with the man (William Mapother) whose family she killed. This is the kind of intense character drama we rarely see in movies, let alone science fiction.
In Voice, Marling plays Maggie, a cult leader who is so full of fierce charisma that she’s practically the opposite of Rhoda. We’re going to be seeing a lot of Marling (you already have if you watch Community) so I’ve been happy to start getting to know her. After meeting her at festivals, we had an official interview at the Los Angeles junket for Another Earth.
Brit Marling Interview
Is Brit short for something?
Brit Marling: "Oh, my mother’s grandmother’s name was Brit so I was named after her. My mother’s side of the family is Norwegian."
It really is just Brit, cool.
Brit Marling: "It is just Brit."
Did you start with the character who’s haunted by tragedy, or the idea of the other Earth?
Brit Marling: "We totally started with the concept, thinking about another Earth, thinking about doppelgangers, thinking about encountering yourself. With high concept ideas, I think the difficult thing is always making sure that you’re not just provoking a sense of wonder at the spectacle or at the newness of the idea, but you’re also in the end of the film giving people a real emotional release. You’re using this high concept as a scalpel to dissect humanity, to get at some truth of what it means to be human. So we had this big, epic idea and then it was like, 'Well, how do we tell something about the things that you and I feel or what it means?' I think we came to Rhoda that way. 'What kind of person most needs to encounter herself?' Then we thought of Rhoda, who had caused this terrible accident and couldn’t let herself off the hook for it, and what her journey would be like to begin to see herself really again."
And then considers giving that opportunity away.
Brit Marling: "And then considers giving that opportunity away. It’s funny, in love stories I always think that the only way that you can ever show how much somebody loves someone is by what they’re willing to sacrifice. It’s hard to communicate love in any other way. There’s chemistry and that part of it, but to really know how somebody feels - I often even think about this in my own life - you sometimes hope for a moment in which you can show someone the depth of what you feel for them by what you have to give up. I don’t know that there’s any other way to measure it. Yeah, she does give up something pretty big."
I got to see Sound of my Voice right away. How are the fans going to be able to wait until Fox Searchlight releases it?
Brit Marling: "Oh my gosh, it’s a good question. You’re right, it was a weird experience at Sundance because things were back to back. Though, truly, not that many people saw both films at once. I didn’t meet that many people that did. I think that was a rare thing. It’s interesting. Maybe it’s good to have a little bit of space, that one comes out and there’s some time to digest that story and then there’s a new story. The performances, the characters are so different. Maggie is so different. She’s so cruel and vicious and tough. Rhoda’s not that way at all. I’ll be curious to see what people think about that juxtaposition."
You co-wrote both of these films. Are you still writing new ideas?
Brit Marling: I am. Zal [Batmanglij, director and co-writer of Sound of My Voice] and I are working on something right now that we’re rewriting. Mike is writing something and we’re always trying to write new things. I think the idea is to try to not sit still for too long. To make a movie and then try to make another movie and keep learning and keep, hopefully, growing in your craft."
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Fox Searchlight's Another Earth opens in theaters on July 22, 2011.