Take this Waltz: Interview with the Cast
“Take This Waltz” is the second feature film from writer/director Sarah Polley, based on her screenplay. The film follows a younger couple (played by Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen), married for only a few years, moving from the springtime of their romance, settling into what should be a warm, loving life together.
Lou (Rogen) is the good husband, durable in his affection for his wife, grounded in his kitchen, as he diligently works his way through his chicken recipes; Margot, however, is a zephyr. Temperate in her self‐awareness, untethered by intention, she is easily propelled by gusts of inspiration coming from others. Side by side, making all the proscribed choices young, urban couples are advised to make, they move towards their future. Lou, contentedly; Margot, because she is his wife.
Enter Daniel (Luke Kirby). His character lands, ironically, right across the street from Margot’s life. The object becomes a catalyst, and affects the film’s main duo. The film also stars Sarah Silverman.
Williams: [My character’s husband] Lou makes her feel contained. He makes her feel cozy, safe, secure and a little drowsy. “Take This Waltz” is about Margot on the threshold of moving from being a girl, where it is safe, to a woman, where there are no guarantees. It’s like she’s trying to hang onto something she’s losing her grasp on ‐ all subconsciously of course…Looking out at the world from Margot’s viewpoint, she wonders if she’s missing out on life and if something’s going to pass her by. Margot feels stuck. She’s not doing exactly what she wants to be doing. She’s not writing exactly what she wants to be writing.
Williams: Margot evolved inside me slowly. To me, Margot starts out the movie as an innocent. At first I wondered if she was someone to whom nothing bad had ever happened, and this breakup was her first kind of experience into her shadow‐self. Maybe it was her walk on the wild side. But that evolved and now I don’t think she’s entirely naïve ‐ but she does have a kind of unworldly‐ness about her so that this experience is a transformation. That’s a good thing, but it’s transformation through fire, which is painful.
Working with Ease
Rogen: It was really interesting pretending to be married to someone all day. It’s amazing how easy it is when you’re allowed to be comfortable with yourself when the cameras are rolling ‐ and how awkward it becomes the second they stop rolling. But Michelle made it as easy as it could be, and she’s just 100% real at all times. Because it feels kind of real at times and Michelle’s so nice, it just sucks to have to even pretend to not get along with her.
Working with Sarah Polley
Silverman: So many directors, great directors, directors I love, are fully socially retarded. Sarah actually isn’t. She has a plan, knows exactly what she wants, and knows how to manipulate exactly how to get it in a way that makes you, the actors and me, feeling like “Oh my God, I’m amazing in this!” instead of shells of ourselves.
Williams: This has really has been sort of a dream come true. I told Sarah “You know what I do sometimes before I act, before I met you? I do WWSPD: What Would Sarah Polley Do?” You know when you’re on take #10 of a scene and you still haven’t found your way in, nothing’s clicking, and you’re calling upon the gods for some sort of help? One of my pull‐it‐out‐the‐bag things is, “How would Sarah Polley do this scene? What would she do?”
Kirby: I have a very strong sense with Sarah that if she isn’t feeling that we have gotten to where we want to be in a scene, she won’t relent, she won’t settle. I feel a sense of trust and it’s exhilarating. She’s like a very strong little bird in a breadbasket who you’d like to take with you on your picnic. She’s very calm and grounded and present. Those qualities are exceptional. There’s no concern of being embarrassed because of whatever truth she carries.
Silverman: I’d never get to read for a part like this. Usually when I’m told that someone had me in mind for a part, it’s vulgar and it has shit jokes and it’s gross. It must be what I put out there, but I don’t see myself like that. But when I read this, I got choked up because I couldn’t believe someone would see me this way. I see myself able to play drama. But we put people in boxes and can’t see outside of it, but Sarah did. It was so nice. And I’m so grateful for this.
Rogen: [Polley] came to LA and told me about the film. She was so nice and so cool. I’d actually been a big fan of hers for a long time, both as an actor and director. And then I read it and thought it was really awesome and very well written, much better written than I can write. So I was very thrilled to do it, and yeah, I was very excited.
Silverman: Margot is like a little sister to [my character], although she does view Margot in the context of protecting Lou’s happiness. I also think there’s a self‐centeredness in both characters where they’re connecting but only because they’re getting something that they need or giving something that they need to give. Like many friendships, theirs is like two islands in a way ‐ Geraldine has her own shit and she’s seeing everything around her in relation to her own shit, and so is Margot.
Kirby: The relationship between [my and Williams’s characters] is a force too strong to even acknowledge any question of integrity. He knows she is married, but there’s not enough space for him to think about it, and he’s not blind to the spark. It’s too exciting. It feels too good to stop and assess because of the game they are playing which, for the most part, is unconscious – that is until the depth of it and the reality of it hits, which it does, heavily. It seems free at first, but there is a price tag. It is too frightening to acknowledge that there may be some kind of loss.
Rogen: For Lou, “Take This Waltz” is a movie about a guy who writes a chicken cookbook and then finds out his wife is cheating on him. It’s kind of funny that my character is just not that emotionally involved…I did draw on my Dad a little for this role, honestly. My Dad does a thing where he talks with his eyes closed, so I did that a few times.
Rogen: [It’s] slightly symbolic for a guy who’s aspiring to do something, but not something that’s incredibly exciting or daring. Chicken is the middle ground of meat. It’s a good metaphor for the relationship. It’s good, but it’s not the most exciting thing in the world.
Preparing for the Role
Rogen: I can confidently say I did more research for this movie than any movie I’ve ever done, except maybe “Pineapple Express.” You learn little things from movies, like how to ride a motorcycle or shoot an AK‐47. But for “Waltz,” I spent a lot of time learning how to cut up chickens. I had chefs coming to my house in LA and they’d leave me dozens of chickens. I’d cut them up and cook them in different ways, but I would mostly just cut them up. I’d also watch a lot of cooking shows, like “Top Chef,” and steal the way they do stuff.
Working On Set
Kirby: I enjoyed the process mostly for the environment Sarah created, putting us all together. I was very happy just being in a room with Sarah and Michelle and having the space to play and not being at the behest of time constraints.
Williams: Each time I’m worried about a scene and how I’m going to approach it, I was comforted when I looked into Luke’s eyes and realized, “Oh, I can just relate to what he’s offering me.”
Silverman: To me, Seth Rogen is the marker of where comedy started being played very real. It was like the anti-Ace Ventura (which was great when it came out). It’s just playing it real and letting the moments be funny. So watching Seth go from comedy to drama is seamless because he’s just playing the lines very naturally in both cases. There’s no difference.
Rogen: With comedy, for me, you develop a pretty good gauge of whether it is funny or not. The kind of comedy that we generally have done is naturalistic, conversational, which means it’s not like completely based on call‐and‐response. But I also thought that when you find out what’s happening to Lou and to Margot, it’s very impactful and there are a lot of really interesting moments that I’d never really seen in a movie before. More than anything, [Polley] really seemed to think I was going to help her movie a lot and that to me was the most important thing.
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