Breaking into the Hollywood scene in 2007 with the dark comedy and coming-of-age cautionary tale “Teeth,” actress Jess Weixler has embraced her place in the independent film scene for the last decade, but has also shown her talent on more accessible projects like CBS’s “The Good Wife” and AMC’s “The Son.”
In her newest indie film “Entanglement,” Weixler, 36, stars as Hanna, an assertive and beautiful woman, who finds herself sharing her time with Ben (Thomas Middleditch), an insecure and suicidal man who is on a journey to find a sister he never knew existed. When Hanna and Ben connect, sparks fly and the couple being to explore the idea that their lives are on a destined path with one another and that fate has brought them together for a reason.
During an interview with Weixler, we discussed the metaphors baked into a film like “Entanglement,” if fate or “quantum entanglement” (as the characters refer to it) is something she believes in, and how the more absurd elements of the movie fit in with the narrative.
As an actress, do you usually find yourself attracted to weird, eccentric love stories like “Entanglement?”
(Laughs) I really think this one takes you by surprise. I don’t think the romantic comedy genre always does justice to what real love is. I kind of like that [“Entanglement”] turns the romantic comedy on its head. I like that [Ben’s character] finds this ideal person who is exciting and fun and playful and makes him feel all the feels, even though that’s still a bit of a trope.
Well, I don’t think you ever want a romantic comedy to hit too many clichés. In “Entanglement,” love is portrayed as this very complicated thing. Is love really that complicated?
I sort of see this whole movie as a bit of a metaphor. It’s about somebody going through so much pain. He is suicidal and really has to do backflips to find love. If this movie has a message – and I’m not sure that it does – it would be that you have to be able to see the people who love you for who you are – for all your sadness. You have to find more of who you are in order to feel like a whole person. You’re not looking for somebody else to complete you. You have to find wholeness for yourself.
I had never heard the term “quantum entanglement” before. Is that something you believe in – this idea that two people can be bonded forever through time and space?
Quantum entanglement is something that I became fascinated with in college. My husband actually studied physics in university. There is such a poetry to physics. You start to wonder how these things relate to us and our lives. Quantum entanglement is a very real thing. It’s not made up. These particles, once they bond, will still react to each other even if they are separated across infinite amounts of space and time. That is true, and it’s nuts! This is happening in the world and we don’t know exactly how it’s happening. [Hanna] is like a piece of [Ben] that he’s lost. That brings into question if you’re bonded to something, are you always connected to it? I think yes, in many ways. I like that this movie is not about finding somebody to complete you. It’s not about finding somebody else that’s going to make you happy.
What about the Butterfly Effect? Do you think talking to me right now has the possibility of making something in your life change that wouldn’t have if you didn’t do this interview?
Yeah! I mean, I’ll leave the house at a different time. I guess every single thing that happens affects everything else. It’s way too much to possibly think about. I suppose it gives us comfort to think things are just going to happen the way they happen and to think we can’t try to control our lives too much. In doing so, hopefully will see the mistakes we’ve made in life and can make those things better for ourselves down the road.
Prior to filming, had you met Thomas? Did you want to build a dynamic with him beforehand or did you go into this project cold turkey?
I got to know him when I got [on set]. I knew I needed to be what [his character] wanted and needed me to be. I needed to be what he felt was missing from his life. Somehow, my character is supposed to be filling those holes and waking up parts of himself that haven’t been awake.
There’s some interesting magical realism in the film. Talk about how this relates to the narrative as a whole.
I think it adds to the feeling that this is all too good to be true. I think it’s lovely and wonderful. I think [Ben] thinks it’s too much – this world of make-believe. But he’s glad that he is feeling it. It’s hard for me to talk about it from the outside, but from the inside I was studying Marilyn Monroe and James Dean and these iconic figures that you sort of put on a pedestal. I think it adds to the Disney effect of things being put on pedestals. [In “Entanglement,”] you see this [animated] little deer in the forest that is so Disney. The fireworks are so Disney. [The film] is about idealizing things but then eventually settling down and realizing what is beautiful and what is real.
How much of the absurdity of the story helps with the message that it’s trying to deliver? For example, in real life there is no way Ben gets those adoption records for $50.
There’s definitely a suspense of believe. I had to look at a lot of it as a metaphor. The whole movie kind of works as a fable. I don’t actually think [Ben is] schizophrenic. There are a few things that just happen because that helps the fable move forward. I think those things are done in a very playful manner because they’re obviously ridiculous.
As a movie watcher are you into those types of films where it’s all one big metaphor for something? For example, last year “Mother!” and “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” were two very polarizing movies for audiences in terms of being metaphors.
Yeah, I do! I actually just watched “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” recently. I was like, “What am I watching? This is so bizarre.” It was so interesting to see it and think, “Yeah, surgeons kill people.” I mean, certainly not on purpose, but what would metaphorically be the flip side of that? I’m into those kind of thought experiments. “The Lobster” was a really cool thought experiment, too.
Since you broke out onto the scene in 2007 with “Teeth,” is there something specific you’ve learned about yourself as an actress that you didn’t know a decade ago?
That’s such a great question and so hard to answer. I think everybody, as they get older, they get better. I think overall, I am more of a whole person. I not trying to just present one part of myself for people to see. I hope as I go forward in my career, I can be more translucent and give away more of who I am as a whole, for better or worse.