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Joan Allen: ‘Acting is like tennis. You bring your game’. Television

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IIn some ways, Joan Allen is like an American Gary Oldman; Wait, live with it. She looks so different from one role to the next that she moves beyond mercantilism, toward the abstract – more like a soul slicing into a role than a flesh-and-blood actor. Or maybe it’s just acting at its rarest. one of the founders of the late 70s steppenwolf, the famous Chicago theater troupe most famously launched John Malkovich, his early career was that of a sharp, ensemble cast with a worker’s purity of purpose. “We have to write these applications to get art grants, and people will say ‘What’s your mission statement? “Well, what were we? A group of like-minded people who wanted to do strong visceral theater and who had the same sensibility and sense of humor. We saw the pinnacle of our work telling whatever story to the best of our ability Were, let’s tell him.” It was definitely married in Allen’s mind, which lacked the Craftsman-like pretense. “It’s like tennis. You come in, and you bring your game. The better you play, the better your partner plays, the better your opponent plays.”

Although Steppenwolf was a multi-award winner and had no shortage of mainstream theater success—Allen won a Tony in 1988 for Burn This, in his Broadway debut—you can still get an idea of ​​what Hollywood thought. How uncomfortable was the outfit with. , especially as Malkovich’s star began to rise. “At the time, there was really a concern, if we go out and do other things, will it be the most important thing in our lives? Is it more important to live in Chicago and do it for a local audience?”

Joan Allen won a Tony for her stage performance with John Malkovich in Burn This.
Steppenwolf Aim… Joan Allen won a Tony for her stage performance opposite John Malkovich in Burn This. Photograph: Michael Brosillo

In fact, her distinctly theatrical professional personality – she is regarded as the ultimate un-diva – she spent much of her childhood, in her 50s and 60s, her father being a gas-station owner, her mother the mother of four. She took care “Don’t be fooled, I grew up in the Midwest, a stereotypical way of being: no nonsense, don’t feel sorry for yourself. If you can do it yourself, don’t ask someone else to do it. I was raised with a very strong work ethic. You are no better than anyone else. You really need to be kind to people. These housewives. I would feel uncomfortable any other way.”

In the end, what got her to the movies was simple enough—she had a daughter with her then-husband, actor Peter Friedman, in 1994, and staying in the theater would make her miss sleeping every now and then. “I knew I would only have one child, and I thought, ‘This is a shot of me. Do I really want to be out every night from six to 11?'” She wouldn’t be drawn to whether the actors But there’s no particular maternal pun, a mix of practicality and atmosphere; what it’s like to work in theater that can never make you adjust to life as a whole person, because, well, it just doesn’t. Maybe. Ellen resists that controversy as strongly as she requests the occult or the elaborate trailer: The “you’re better than no one else” of her upbringing jumps off the page.

Pure Fear... Alan with Julianne Moore in Lissy's Tale.
Pure Fear… Alan with Julianne Moore in The Story of Lisie. Photo: Apple TV+

Instead, she turned to film, although we’re here to discuss Lisie’s story, a new Apple TV mini-series from the famous Chilean director pablo laren. Adapted from the Stephen King novel of the same name, it has a charming, fairly old-school horror sensibility, delicately placed clues against moments of incredible gore. At one point I actually jumped out of my chair, it was so gruesome. Allen traces his uniqueness to director: “I haven’t done a lot of episodes or serial television, but traditionally you have a different director for every episode, and the person who has a broader vision is the listener. ” She seems quite winsome and naive in her early experiences of the box set – she calls the director to check the mood, and they’ll be looking at her awkwardly, like “What does that have to do with this?” “We had the luxury of being Pablo, but it also meant that we shot all eight episodes like it was one big movie.”

As an onlooker, though, the memorabilia is the three sisters’ outfits: Julianne Moore There’s Lisie, who recently lost her husband; Jennifer Jason Leigh Darla is; Alan is Amanda, who is initially immersed in a psychotic episode, and embarks on an extremely powerful journey into something resembling pure fear. Moore, Jason Leigh, and Alan often seem to communicate through sheer telepathy that viewers can hear unaccounted for. “We’re a similar age,” she says. “I’m definitely the oldest, but we’re close enough in experience between film and television and theatre, I thought we’d have a language and an understanding and an attitude that was Sympatico. And that was true on camera and off. tha, we have very similar lifestyles, rather low key. We came together individually.” This is a pure introvert description – without any evidence, I think these three actors are introverts – as much as said is, communicating much more than that; and it was this introversion that gave her the first place in acting.” Having such an introverted child, I felt a sense of release and security of expression. I had wonderful parents who were old school in some ways. No less than positive sentiments were encouraged in my family.”

Allen’s most blockbuster movie roles were as CIA boss Pamela Landy Bourne Films – “That’s the role where my UPS delivery driver started calling me Pam Landy” – and she speaks a lot (as does everyone else, really) of the director Paul Greengrass, but what she talks about the most is the charming way he fired her. “It was such a tough call for him, I remember he said, ‘Joan, I was thinking about it…’ and I was like, ‘Paul, it’s OK.'”

As CIA handler Pamela Landy in the blockbuster... The Bourne Ultimatum.
As CIA handler Pamela Landy in the blockbuster… The Bourne Ultimatum. Photograph: Allstar/Universal

The film he previously called his best was ice storm, Ang Lee’s 1997 masterpiece about the wealthy misadventures in ’70s Connecticut. Sigourney Weaver will always have that show-stopping line in the movie (“You’re boring me,” she tells the guy she’s having an affair with. “I’ve got a husband who can bore me”) ) But Allen’s performance was signature, so subtle and full that you felt like you were missing some important piece of the puzzle even when she wasn’t right on screen. The way she remembers it, “I saw it in a screening room in Los Angeles, and I feel like I remember the sound of the train and Tobey Maguire’s character talking. Just at the whistling sound, I thought, I just know that I’m going to love this movie.”

If this sounds like the typical answer at all — throwing the spotlight from his own performance or process, in fact, from any human performance, on a whistle — it’s actually unusual to see his films. She says she confronted her daughter face-to-face, and shivered: “I think she was too young. I shouldn’t have turned it on.” Pleasantville, a groundbreaking comedy-fantasy released to acclaim a year after The Ice Storm, is an exception, as he saw it as a favor to his friend, who is a psychoanalyst. “Actually I’m friends with his wife,” she corrects herself, as if it would be a crazy pretense to pretend to be friendlier with a therapist than you actually are. “Anyway, they have a group, and they study specific films, and they wanted to do Pleasantville, so I saw it so I could go in and speak about it.”

Awakening of Color... Allen in Pleasantville with Tobey Maguire.
Awakening of Color… Allen in Pleasantville with Tobey Maguire. Photograph: New Line/Allstar

As she describes it all, she seems almost physically drawn to the investigative questions she will be asked about a role that everyone remembers for its surreal, expertly crafted contrasts. Because her main character gets colored by masturbating in the bath; In psychoanalysis people can ask anything. Then her relief is almost clear, as she concludes: “It really wasn’t as deep as I thought. He was a little more interested in how it was made. “

There’s very little straw in Joan Allen’s CV. from manhunter To Nixon, the films he made, and the memorable roles within him, speak of careful planning and a deep conscience. Yet how she remembers it: She says she hasn’t been as selective as she is now, “Because I feel like I’ve done so much in my life, I don’t feel like, ‘If I don’t do it again. Work, I’m going to die.’ Some actors, their sense of vitality comes from that. Some actors will read the phone book aloud and feel more full, and that’s obviously okay. I really don’t have it because I’ve had it since I was 13 or 14, pretty consistent. If I didn’t do it frequently or regularly, I wouldn’t feel like a shrunken vine.”

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