“Playing a bad mother is more taboo than playing a serial killer,” Ellen Barkin recently told The Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg about her role in Sam (son of Barry) Levinson‘s Another Happy Day. “It’s just, you know, the untouchable thing.”
As long as we’re talking about attitudinal undercurrents, a friend suggested this morning that Barkin’s current romantic relationship with Levinson — she’s a MILFy 57 and he’s 26 — will somehow work against the film’s rep in some vaguely values-oriented or creatively suspicious or snooty socio-cultural way. I sharply disagreed. People who work together sometimes wind up knocking boots…and so what? If the film is good then the film is good…period. If Barkin is as snappy and snarly as she seems to be in the trailer, nothing else counts.
It certainly doesn’t matter if people who like to share ideas and fluids and whatnot are 30, 20 or 10 years apart in terms of time spent on the planet. Who cares? We’re all going to die eventually so make it and get it while you can. Just don’t hurt anyone and try and be considerate and unselfish.
And I think Barkin’s f-bomb Twitter postings are kind of rad. She’s…I don’t know what she’s doing but she seems to be…what, getting in touch with her inner Bronx girl or something?
“It was hard for me, but I just kept saying, ‘You’ve just got to fucking strap ’em on, and do it, and not be afraid of them not liking you, of being a bad mother, of putting it out there — because it is out there,” Barkin told Feinberg. “That’s also how I felt very early in my career, with a movie like Diner — like, ‘Don’t be afraid to be the girl who thinks she’s ugly ’cause you do think you’re ugly, Ellen.'”
Another Happy Day premiered nine and a half months ago at Sundance 2011 (where I naturally missed it). Phase 4 Films bought it last May. It opens in New York and Los Angeles on 11.18.
Barkin and Levinson “met on the set of an indie movie” — Shit Year? — “in which she was starring and for which he had been brought on to do some emergency rewrites,” Feinberg reports.
“Barkin recalls that after Levinson had been on the set for a full week, he timidly approached her with a script that he had written and asked her if she would be willing to check it out. On the basis of the work that he had done on that film — ‘which was, compared with what they started with, brilliant’ — she agreed, went home and read it, and called him immediately afterwards to tell him she was in. She also signed up to serve as a producer of the film.”
Like any actress of a certain age, Barkin has to hustle to land meaty, attention-getting roles. She respected Levinson’s writing, like his Another Happy Day script, saw there was a good part for her, decided to bankroll or partially bankroll the film (and thereby boost her own profile and career) and then the romantic thing happened along with everything else. Apparently. That’s how it usually goes.
“His writing was just so off-the-charts,” Barkin said, “with a voice that I have never heard before. I think Sam Levinson is really one of the leading voices of a new generation of American filmmakers, and I think it’s a voice that’s going to be talking to us for decades. It’s just very impressive.”
Their relationship will last as long as it lasts. When one or the other begins to feel that his or her interests aren’t being served as well as before or he/she could do better with someone else…we all know how it works. Eat, drink and be merry, and serve the Movie Godz as best you can.