Juliette Lewis has appeared in some of the best-known films released over the last two decades, including Cape Fear, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Natural Born Killers and From Dusk Till Dawn. In her latest project, Kelly & Cal, Lewis takes on the role of Kelly, a dissatisfied housewife who forms an unlikely bond with a wheelchair-bound neighbor.
You’ve described the script to Kelly & Cal as “magical.” Can you talk a little bit about that?
That’s my go-to word when something moves me so much, and it’s unexpected, or I couldn’t possibly predict this sort of fresh story.
I’m just a big believer in cosmic forces. When you go through something in your own life, and then coincidentally get something artistically that matches up—and that really is rare—so when that happens, it’s really magical.
Also the relationship between Kelly and Cal is so beautiful. It’s like things we go through in our own life, where you meet someone at certain time, and right or wrong, it was meant to be.
The film seems to be very personal to you.
How much of you is in Kelly?
It’s interesting because when you do character work, or this kind of work with acting, you’re utilizing emotion and emotional energies. You’re also sometimes exaggerating them, and putting it in a particular way that resembles another person, either really far from yourself or very much like yourself. So, how I feel like Kelly… those quiet moments when you’re alone with yourself, I’ve not put that on screen before where you’re feeling kind of lost, and questioning and you’re puzzled, but there are no words to articulate it. It’s not like you’re having the conversation with another human being. You’re just sort of meandering, emotionally and physically, as she’s strolling her baby through the neighborhood.
It’s a really tricky thing to play because your hope is that you can still lead people on this journey and not bore them. You rely a great deal on your director and the strength of the story. I just had a lot of confidence in the writing and in (director) Jen (McGowan).
But it’s personal to me, where she finds herself at this point in her life. She’s reflecting and questioning her happiness, and should she be happier. It’s all scary.
The thing with age is you sometimes will get caught up in situations thinking you should know better. “Why am I acting like I’m 13 and I’m 40?” Things like that were compelling to me.
This is the second film you’ve done with IFC Films.
Isn’t that a trip? Two female directors who were both totally unique and visual and amazing.
All I can say is I’m grateful, grateful, grateful for IFC because these films need a home, and they need distribution and a company that backs and supports them. I think IFC does that beautifully.
The other [film] I had was Hellion, and they sort of happened within two months of each other. Hellion I loved because it was Aaron Paul and this incredible role, and I’m supporting. Then this one I was working 16-hour days in every single frame, and then they both coincidentally got picked up by IFC. That was just sort of magic.
Who are you listening to right now?
I got to see them live last night—Interpol. I’m kind of listening to all of the bands that I already love, and when they come out with new music… Cage the Elephant, who is a great rock and roll band if you don’t know them. Arcade Fire… I always go back to Neil Young. Prince. Sam Smith.
Oh, Grimes! I’m in love with this young artist named Grimes. I just love when I find a new music thing. I listen to him obsessively.
Kelly & Cal is now available to order on DIRECTV CINEMA.