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An Interview with Anne Heche

photo courtesy of Brian Bowen Smith

A versatile and highly talented actress, writer and director, Anne Heche made her big-screen debut with a brief appearance in The Adventures of Huck Finn.

Her first leading role in the big-budget romantic adventure Six Days Seven Nights with Harrison Ford catapulted her to prominence. She landed her second leading role in the exceptional drama Return to Paradise.

TV fans applaud her exemplary performances in Gracie’s Choice, The Dead Will Tell, and recurring guest roles on “Everwood,” “Nip/Tuck” and her own primetime series, “Men in Trees.” She later landed a featured role in the independent film Spread with Ashton Kutcher and the indie comedy Cedar Rapids.

In That’s What She Said, Dee Dee (Anne Heche), Bebe (Marcia DeBonis) and their new acquaintance, Clementine (Alia Shawkat) embark on a series of misadventures in New York City. Based on writer/actress Kellie Overbey’s play Girl Talk, the delightful, low budget indie has some laugh out loud moments that bring out the pain and often crushing disappointments endured by women seeking love and acceptance. In this interview, Anne Heche talks about the film, its humor and pathos, and the talented ensemble cast that brought it to life.

The scene where you’re brushing your teeth while smoking a cigarette was a riot.

Anne Heche: When I read that in the script, I thought, if I can pull this one scene off, this is going to be a funny movie. I would practice it because it’s such an odd choice to make as a human being–to do both of those things at the same time. I thought, this is only going to get worse–she is a mess, she is one hot mess. My whole preparation for that character was making her even more disastrous than a girl who was smoking while brushing her teeth.

What attracted you to the role of Dee Dee?

AH: That one scene. What I’m always wondering about any character I play is, can I make it truthful?  If I can make her truthful then I’m hoping I can pull it off. Dee Dee is such a self-destructive personality, which is heartbreaking. The best of these characters are the ones that can be redeemed. So it’s my great hope that that was going to happen in the movie and that the lower she began, the bigger and taller the mountain she needed to climb.  So I think we started pretty low, for sure. It was just fun to figure out how to really make her resist any hope of growing up.  And I love that about this movie. I also love that the people helping her climb were also disasters.  Nobody in this movie is a hero. There’s no nice, sweet character.  They’re all have zero self esteem. They don’t like themselves or each other. That’s an equation for comedy. I wanted to do that in this movie.

It’s basically a study of flawed characters. What do you think people will take away from the film?

AH: I think, people would say, “Thank God there’s a movie where I can actually see myself.” Nobody has a great day every day. These girls never have a great day. I think it’s really a surprise to see the worst possible image of yourself and what we laugh at. So I think anyone watching this movie will find their worst possible self in one of these moments in the film.

Were changes made to the script to include how well the three of you played off each other? It was a delight to watch you and the cast bring this film to life.

AH: Thank you. One of the things we really needed to do was unheard of–and that was to rehearse. Because, we were filming in so many spots in New York, we didn’t know if we’d be getting kicked off and get another take, let alone the fact that our film budget was very low. We didn’t want to waste any time on film not getting it right. So in our rehearsals, we definitely found some fun rhythms using Alia’s and Marcia’s personality to see how we contrast each other. We found some really funny nuances, but I will say this script was so tight and so funny with the characters. Our writer, Kellie Overbey worked so hard for years to make this film work. So the words sang from the very beginning. We added a couple of jokes but it was really there.

Did you like the physicality of the script—fighting on the floor with Marcia?

AH: Like I said, if you brush your teeth and smoke at the same time, you can’t start there and not do anything crazier than that. So I couldn’t wait to go through the script to see what else was going to happen. And when I read that we were going to get into a fistfight, I was like, get outta here! That was really raw. To have girls really take each other down. You want to own that and earn that. I was so proud that someone had written that kind of balsy physicality for women and so thrilled to be asked to play it. We were bruised, I’m not kidding you, honestly, from head to toe. We didn’t have enough budget, so we didn’t have a blanket to rehearse on. We were throwing each other down, morning, noon and night. We could hardly walk when we were done.

So no stunt doubles?

AH: We hardly got catering.  The food we ate was mostly leftovers. We always shot at weird times because we had to be working in places that we didn’t really have to rent.  So the bar where we ended up shooting that fight scene, we had to start shooting at four o’clock in the morning when the bar closed, and stop at four o’clock in the afternoon when the bar opened. We were all just struggling to have a cup of coffee. I came in one morning for breakfast, and on the craft service table where you’d hope to get a cup of coffee we found leftover snack Dorito bags from a previous lunch.  So I said, “I know you asked me to do this movie for you, but Doritos for breakfast?”

The ensemble cast really clicks, how did you react when you discovered who would be in the film?

AH: When I met with Carrie and Kellie, they told me that Marcia was someone they believed in from doing the play and they wanted to hire her. So I loved that they were giving their friends that much commitment and belief. I always thought there was one girl that could play Clementine, so I asked them if they would reach out to Alia and that was that.  The other characters are friends of Carrie’s and Kellie’s from New York, and Kellie is one of the girls in it.  Kellie and I did a play called 20th Century together with Alec Baldwin, and Alec gave me the script and told me that you’re the only girl fucked up enough to pull this off. I really loved that he said that and believed in me enough to give me this role. I think it’s a killer role and it was an amazing experience.

Do you prefer doing these dialog heavy comedies?

AH: It’s like bringing the theater to film. You don’t get to do that very often. This is a dialog driven piece. I thought it was a riot. You don’t usually get to talk that much on screen, and you definitely don’t get to talk that much if you’re a girl. It was fun to be in a film with this many chicks all talking at the same time.

 

About Alex Kecskes

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Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of film reviews and celebrity interviews for a wide variety of online and print outlets. He has covered red carpet premieres and Comic-Con events for major films and independent releases.

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