When the film adaptation of the black comedy "White Noise" (original title: "White Noise") hits the cinema now and runs on Netflix at the end of December, Greta Gerwig will be its big figurehead. The 39-year-old, who first gained international fame as an actress (for example in 2010's "Greenberg" or 2012's "Frances Ha"), is now also one of Hollywood's most successful filmmakers with her directorial works: "Lady Bird" was nominated in five categories at the 2018 Oscars, and two years later "Little Women" received no less than six nominations; she wrote the screenplay and directed both. While the world is eagerly awaiting the "Barbie" film adaptation scheduled for 2023 with Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, which Gerwig is also directing and wrote the screenplay for together with her partner, director Noah Baumbach, "White Noise" – also directed by Baumbach and with Gerwig in one of the leading roles, alongside Adam Driver, Jodie Turner-Smith as well as Lars Eidinger and others – is starting now.
We meet Gerwig at this year's Venice Film Festival, where "White Noise" premiered as the opening film. She appears relaxed in silk pyjamas. "I admit, it looks like I just got out of bed. But Gucci just makes these chic pyjamas that you can wear in everyday life. And I thought the day after the premiere it would fit quite well," she explains.
Actress and filmmaker Greta Gerwig in an interview about "White Noise"
Greta Gerwig: I play a character who just wants to please herself, no one else. It's not about being sexy for her either. Generally speaking, it seems to be my job to fill the niche of "not so sexy" characters (laughs). In any case, I don't want to wear costumes in a film that feel like costumes, I want to wear clothes that I would hang in my own wardrobe. It all has to be organic. I was lucky enough to work with a legendary designer – Ann Roth, who has designed the costumes for classics like "Asphalt Cowboy" or "The Waffemn of Women". I worked with her to create a story for each individual garment.
"In general, it seems to be my job to fill the niche of "not so sexy" characters" © Greta Gerwig
The story of the film itself has rather dark features. Your character suffers from mortal fear, and then even a misfortune happens…
Actually, I found the story rather funny. When I read the novel by Don DeLillo, I was amused by its black humour. There was something on every page that was just unbelievably hilarious. However, I have to admit that it felt a bit different than when I read it, when I then had to put myself into it as an actress.
I used to steer clear of these gloomy topics. For example, there's the story "The Death of Ivan Ilyich" by Leo Tolstoy, which I just didn't touch, even though I knew it was supposed to be great. It's about a man who just can't accept that he has to die, and I just didn't want to know what he was going through. With a film like White Noise, I learned to look that experience in the eye.
You conjured that up yourself, because you told your partner Noah Baumbach that you wanted to play the female lead…
He was reading the novel and said: "Who could play the female lead?" And I spontaneously said, "Me." But that was in the middle of Lockdown. It didn't feel real at the time that we were going to make a film out of it.
What if he had picked someone else?
That would have been okay. I certainly wouldn't have broken up with him because of that.
You are both successful filmmakers. Is there any rivalry there?
Absolutely not. Each hopes for the other's success. It's just that we sometimes find it difficult to coordinate. There were times when we both released films at the same time, and then both were on the road elsewhere. Communication was quite complicated. In any case, we have now arranged it so that we don't direct films at the same time, because one of us has to take care of our two children.
"What moves me most is that so many young girls are making films now. When I watch one of them at work, my heart swells" © Greta Gerwig
As a female director who has asserted herself in a male-dominated industry, you have become a real icon. How do you feel about that?
What moves me most is that so many young girls are making films now. When I watch one of them at work, my heart swells. So much has changed for the better in the industry since I started. I was effectively only given a chance because my first film, Lady Bird, was commercially successful. Now I don't feel that the wheel could turn back again. It keeps going forward.
Written by Michael Zippo
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