Interview With Rebecca Hall, Star Of PERMISSION
We were able to talk with the great actress Rebecca Hall, star of the upcoming film Permission, which she also helped produce.
Recently I was able to speak with Rebecca Hall, a prominent actress in both stage and film, with past projects such as The Prestige, The Town, The Gift, Christine and recently Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. Her newest movie, Permission, follows a couple of ten years as they decide to sleep with other people. This feature by director Brian Crano is an intelligent and adult take on relationships with just the right amount of polished humor. I was able to talk to Rebecca about her role in the making of the film, her take on the character, and what she would like to do in the future!
Hello Rebecca, this is Kristy Strouse from Film Inquiry. I’m a longtime admirer of your work so it’s a privilege to speak with you today.
You had worked with Brian Crano before and you are also a producer on the movie. What drew you to the project?
Rebecca Hall: Well, a lot really. There wasn’t really much drawing to be done, I think I was already there! I’ve known Brian since he was 19 and I was 20. We’ve always had a very active discourse around his work, whatever he is working on. I’ve always given him notes on his scripts. Actually, the very first short film that he directed was a film called Rubberheart which he had adapted from a short story that I had written about real life sex dolls. So, when something came up it seemed obvious that I should do it with him, it was just sort of easy. And by that point I had been in conversations with him about how the script was going, and giving him feedback on it. We talked about who should be in it, where he should shoot it. Essentially, I was already doing the work of the producer and eventually he decided to just give me that title as well.
That’s exciting that you were such a big part of the process! The film features two couples, but I do believe Anna and Will’s seemed to be at the forefront and your character in particular evolves. It’s sort of a journey about Anna finding herself, and who she is without this relationship. Did you feel any connection to the character?
Rebecca Hall: Sure, I mean I found her to be a very relatable character. She felt like a lot of people that I know. Myself included in different patches of my life. You know, I think even in this sophisticated, kind of accepting, progressive (hopefully) world that we are increasing living in, when it comes to relationships… there is still a somewhat archaically – strange often pressure on women to be in a relationship.
And if it’s good than it’s fundamentally accepted. But if they break out of it they end up feeling like they’ve failed in some way, as opposed to growth. Because they don’t know there is such a thing as a failed relationship. All relationships have their merit. And we saw that people were finding it difficult to know in their late twenties. I think that’s ultimately what this film is about. It’s not really about the sort of ethics of an open relationship. Because we both know, Will and Anna as characters, they don’t know how to go about having an open relationship. They don’t set ground rules, and they don’t communicate properly. They are actually a hot mess, an absolute textbook of how not to do that. What this film is really about is someone coming to the point, this woman coming to the point, where she gives herself permission to be a sexual agent. And to work out what she wants and who she is. And in turn give her partner that too, because they’ve been together for 10 years and have stopped being able to grow up together.
Yes, and I think when you are in a relationship for that long there is a comfort level, but if you don’t have any other experience to compare to, without that exploration, you might not know.
Rebecca Hall: Exactly.
You’ve worked with your husband Morgan Spector before, how was it working with him here when you are portraying different couples?
Rebecca Hall: We met doing a play together, and we’ve done another play together since then, so we are sort of old hands at working together now. I don’t have anything fun or salacious, or any real anecdote to tell you about. It’s just really nice to get to go to work with him and then come home and be in the same place. This project was unique, though, because it was populated with our best friends. Dan Stevens was at college with me and I’m godmother to his kid, and he used to live down the road from us in Brooklyn. Brian also lives about fifteen minutes away from us in Brooklyn, and he’s married to David Joseph Craig who plays Morgan’s boyfriend in the film. So, this is a real luxurious situation that we got to all work together.
Yeah, I’m sure that was fun! Since you already had those relationships I imagine it was a joy to make!
Rebecca Hall: Exactly, yes!
You have quite the filmography, a lot of varying genres and projects. You’ve had a particularly amazing last couple of years! Is there a certain kind of project that you haven’t done? Something you would like to do?
Rebecca Hall: I never really set those parameters because I feel like they will never be fulfilled. I try to go into things empty headed, and then just find what speaks to my gut. I think there are obviously things that I’m drawn to. You are always drawn to characters that are a little, I guess, on the page…could be unlikable or difficult, slightly more conflicted.
I’m always drawn to material that is challenging, that has a sense of emotional intelligence. I’m thankful for the roles that keep on coming, but I also know it doesn’t always work like that. Sometimes you’ve got to go out and find them, or make them yourself, and be more active.
Things don’t always land in your lap, as easily as I’ve had it in the last couple of years.
Of course. Obviously, you have experience producing, as you were one on this film. Do you also have an interest in possibly directing?
Rebecca Hall: Yes, I do, I really do! It’s one of those strange things because I feel I probably would have started directing quite a long time ago, had I not been fortunate enough to have a successful acting career. I love acting, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve always had a slight yearning to direct a film. I’m sure I will do it one day. I don’t know when that’s going to be because if they keep offering me great acting roles I’m going to keep doing that! But, in time, ya know? I’ll make that shift to directing.
It requires a commitment I think, on my part, but I’m excited for it. It will happen one day!
That’s exciting! Do you have any idea as to what kind of films you would be interested in directing?
Rebecca Hall: I’ve got some things percolating. I’ve written a couple of scripts, so hopefully I’m going to make one of those first. And then see where that takes me. I’m inching towards it, baby steps!
Right, baby steps! I know you have to go, but are there any projects coming up that you are excited about?
Rebecca Hall: There’s not much – I’ve having a baby quite soon, so I’m focused on that right now. Oh yes! At the end of the year I do have one film coming out called Holmes and Watson, which comes back to an earlier question you asked about things I hadn’t done that I was interested in.
I’ve never done a very, very broad comedy and this is one is coming out at the end of the year. It’s this spoof on Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, in the vein of Young Frankenstein and films like that. It’s got John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell, and I play an extreme comic character which is really out of my comfort zone and was very, very fun!
Well I’m sure you’ll be great in it! I look forward to seeing it. I didn’t know you were having a baby, congratulations! Again, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today and I loved the film!
We want to thank Rebecca Hall for taking the time to speak with us.
Check out our review of the film here.
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