Lifestyle

Parker Posey Is Dead Serious

On a latest Tuesday morning, Parker Posey met me exterior her Chelsea condo constructing, sporting a billowy black Rachel Comey skirt, a classic navy poplin shirt, and nothing on her toes. “Hello-o-o!” she cried, waving wildly at me from throughout the road. When I bought nearer, she coquettishly batted her eyes, which have been painted with iridescent eyeshadow. “I put it on for you,” she mentioned. She led me up a slim set of stairs, previous partitions painted with psychedelic stripes that she advised me have been impressed by the work of the avant-garde colour theorist William Tapley. Inside her condo, the groovy vibe remained. In the lounge, subsequent to a built-in banquette and an enormous arched window sat a working hearth made out of adobe-style bricks, lending the room the texture of a Laurel Canyon bungalow. Posey, who’s fifty-three, moved into the place 4 years in the past, after shifting out of a West Village residence that she’d shared with a buddy’s aged mom. But she hasn’t spent a lot time there as a result of she’s been busy caring for her getting older mom in Mississippi and performing in a number of initiatives, together with “The Staircase,” a dramatic new HBO Max miniseries from the filmmaker Antonio Campos that revisits a grisly 2001 homicide case.

In the almost three many years since her first starring function, within the 1995 indie comedy “Party Girl,” a “Parker Posey” character has turn into virtually its personal performing style. Her quirky performances—spiky, daffy, ruthless, foolish to the intense—make even her tiny components marvellously memorable: the queen bee-bitch yelling “Air raid!” in “Dazed and Confused,” the chain-smoking purveyor of the “Ding that, Skippy!” monologue in “Kicking and Screaming,” the entitled, over-caffeinated e-book editor in “You’ve Got Mail.” And in fact her many roles in Christopher Guest’s œuvre, the place she stands out even amid a murderers’ row of comedic expertise. I’ve hardly ever laughed as exhausting as I did the primary time I watched Posey’s character audition in “Waiting for Guffman,” throwing herself flirtatiously at an area homosexual theatre director whereas singing Doris Day’s “Teacher’s Pet.” Her traces from “Best in Show,” most of which she improvised on set (“Why didn’t you tell me that before? Thanks for your help, you stupid hotel manager!”), have turn into cult canon. In “The Staircase,” which was primarily based partly on a docuseries of the identical title, Posey performs the late Freda Black, the assistant district legal professional within the homicide trial of Michael Peterson (Colin Firth), a rich North Carolina author whose spouse, Kathleen (Toni Collette), was discovered lifeless on the backside of their mansion stairs. Black distinguished herself within the courtroom with clownish eye make-up and pearl-clutching appeals to the jury, however Posey advised me that she noticed extra within the character than campy antics. For one factor, Parker had by no means earlier than performed a fellow Southern lady.

After we spoke for an hour or so at her condo, Posey introduced that she wanted to go to the Soho Rachel Comey retailer to select up a shiny outfit to put on to the première of “The Staircase,” at MOMA that night. She placed on lace-up oxford sneakers, outsized plastic glasses, and an N95 masks on a pearl chain that she common herself out of an vintage necklace. On the road, I rapidly found that Posey loves to speak to strangers. She stopped to coo loudly at a number of canine. When we handed a row of film trailers arrange for the filming of one other TV present, “Fleishman Is in Trouble,” Posey rapped on the door of 1. “When am I needed on set?” she requested in an impatient tone, totally complicated the assistant inside. When she handed a person sitting in an idling supply truck, she walked as much as his open window and requested if he ever takes a nap whereas resting his head on a roll of paper towels (“I just know Teamsters,” she mentioned afterward.) In Washington Square Park, she bumped into her previous buddy, the actor Justin Theroux, out strolling his rescue pitbull. They kibbitzed about present initiatives and made plans to get collectively quickly. As we walked away, Posey advised me that she and Theroux wished to remake the nineteen-eighties sequence “Hart to Hart,” which starred Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers as a married couple who clear up crimes. The twist, she mentioned, was that they wished to make use of the identical scripts as the unique present, with out altering a phrase. It’s a kooky thought, however would you count on something much less?

This dialog has been edited and condensed.

You simply bought again on the town.

This weekend I used to be engaged on a film referred to as “The Parenting.”

This is the one with Brian Cox?

Gosh, how are you aware? Are you a psychic?

I’ve IMDb.

I’ve performed lots of darkish girls up to now 12 months or so. Dr. Smith in “Lost in Space,” a stint in “Tales of the Walking Dead,” Freda Black, after which an element in Ari Aster’s new film, “Disappointment Blvd.” “The Parenting” is a horror comedy about parenting, and I play a wacky-neighbor half.

Not a stretch.

Not a stretch in any respect. She has an Airbnb, and a homosexual couple come to introduce their dad and mom on this home. It was enjoyable. I form of play a witch. I’ve another day of taking pictures in just a few weeks. We had our poster shoot on Sunday, which you wouldn’t suppose can be tiring, however I used to be leaping round and working round, a lot of output, a lot of leaping up and down.

It is tiring getting your photograph taken!

You need to see it?

The leaping?

Yes! You need to see it? [Stands up and leaps in the air.] It’s like that.

That’s lots of cardio. Let’s discuss “The Staircase.”

I like Antonio [Campos]. I met him in 2008 with “Broken English.” That was on the Deauville Film Festival. He was, like, “I have this movie, ‘Afterschool,’ that’s screening here. I’d love for you to see it in New York.” I’m, like, “I would love to—oh, my God, this is so cool.” Like, a younger-generation filmmaker reaching out to me and reminding me of the nineties, when that occurred on a regular basis. I noticed it uptown someplace and thought, Wow, that is the true deal. He’s bought such model and imaginative and prescient and a means of telling a narrative that’s very eerie, very Americana. I don’t know if that’s the fitting phrase, however there’s a darkness. There’s humor, but it surely’s actually refined.

I need to get to your function as Freda Black, however first can we talk about Colin Firth’s voice? It’s so spot-on, it’s scary.

Well, all of us freaked out on the Zoom readings. I simply bought creeped out as a result of he was so uncanny. He simply actually stepped it up. Wow. He’s labored on this with my previous instructor from SUNY Purchase who I cherished, Elizabeth Himelstein. She is a speech instructor, a dialect coach. She as soon as gave me a pair of her Norma Kamali high-heeled tennis sneakers. Have you ever seen these?

I imply, certain.

Liz was a extremely necessary instructor for me at Purchase. There are lots of full circles occurring now, which I like. I moved to New York in 1992, and my first condo was in Chelsea, simply down the road from right here. I imply, life is disturbing and overwhelming and there’s nervousness. But I do see that there are circles being closed. Do you recognize what I imply? I do know that sounds hippy-dippy.

At a sure level in your life, you begin to see issues holistically. So was she all the time a dialect coach—this instructor of yours, Liz?

Yeah. I’d name her a speech coach. I really made a recording for her down South, after I went to see my dad and mom, of all these completely different Southern accents that she nonetheless makes use of.

So you already had Freda’s Southern accent in you someplace.

I bought actually simply immersed in enjoying her. With Freda, there’s lots of interviews to observe. And I learn this e-book, “Written in Blood.”

It appears like a really salacious learn.

It is a really quick learn and is geared towards the prosecution’s case. I really fell asleep studying it, and I ended up speaking to Antonio about how perhaps we will get windchimes, like how they did on the grave of Kathleen. And he was, like, “What?” I suppose I had made that up as I used to be falling asleep studying. I didn’t have a nightmare, however I did have these fantasies that have been, like, hallucinations.

How did you get into the documentary to start with? Were you obsessive about it when it got here out?

Weren’t you? I imply, I believe I watched it just a few instances even again then. I love documentaries. The Frederick Wiseman documentaries, Albert Maysles. You see how subjective they’re, too.

The Juliette Binoche character. I received’t give it away, however what she does is so unethical.

People are going to scream. They’re going to die.

Did you all speak amongst yourselves about whether or not Michael Peterson is responsible?



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