Chloe Sevigny on "Zodiac"
Question: As an actress playing a character who’s not inside of the investigation, but is affected by it, did you find that you had a different relationship to the material than Mark Ruffalo did? He was somebody who became obsessed with the actual workings of the case, and I’m assuming that Jake Gyllenhaal did as well.
Chloe Sevigny: Yes.
Q: Did you find that, since you weren’t involved with that, you were watching these guys get into the strange nitty gritty of this sickness?
CS: Definitely. And, before I started the picture, a girlfriend of mine who was obsessed with Zodiac when she was a teenager, as lots of alternative girls probably were [laughs], gave me a copy of her book. I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll read it and try to get into where my husband in the movie’s mind was, what he was obsessed with and what he was dealing with, day in and day out,’ and I couldn’t. I got almost through half of it and I had to put it down. I was like, ‘I just don’t want to read about this anymore.’ [Laughs] That’s probably how Melanie is. She doesn’t want to hear about it anymore. It’s this morbid subject. Her kids are threatened. I feel like that’s probably how she was. She just wanted it out of her face. She didn’t even want to read the newspaper articles. She’d heard way too much about it already. I feel like that was probably her attitude. That’s what I did, not because I’m lazy or anything. [Laughs] But, I truly was disturbed reading it. Although I was alternative, I was never obsessed with Manson or Zodiac, or whatever else kids like that get into.
Q: Do you think some of the retro clothes and the big glasses helped you and made you feel more like you were of the period? Does the wardrobe affect you when you act?
CS: The wardrobe really affects me, and the hair and make-up, and all of that. I felt like they were trying to make me look frumpy to make Jake look less attractive.
[Laughs] He has this unattractive girlfriend, therefore you can believe he’s less attractive. I don’t know. That’s my own insecurities.
But I did like that she wasn’t glamorous obviously in any regard. She was a working mother, and she was very practical. I got to be kind of cute in the beginning. I liked that she was this practical, sassy, no nonsense lady.
Q: What’s something about David Fincher that we don’t know?
CS: Something about him that you don’t know? I don’t know. What do you know? [Laughs]
Q: Speaking of obsessions, he has them.
CS: He does, yeah. He has a lot. And I liked how obsessive he was as a filmmaker. I felt like I was in really safe hands. I’m quite obsessive compulsive myself, and to know that he is aware of every inch of the frame and what’s going on, I felt very safe in his hands. But he was very friendly and warm actually and jokey. His little daughter, Phelix, would come to the set. It was a really nice set. He would get very angry and curse a lot which I kind of find sexy sometimes. [Laughs] He was just so in control. Sometimes, he would curse at people.
Q: How was working with Jake, and how did you guys create those two people together?
CS: We had some rehearsals where we went through all of our scenes and talked through the scenes and the dialogue, and he was very active in rewriting or adjusting his dialogue. I’m not a writer. I’m happy with the lines you give me to a certain extent.
But he was very active in that and he would come with new ideas for me, for my lines. [Laughs] He was very boyish and very funny. He kept the whole crew in stitches. They were all very charmed by him. He’s very creative. He has so much energy. He’s always bouncing off the walls. After 80 takes, of course, I think he would get bored a little bit, especially when it was my coverage, so he’d be switching up the lines and stuff. His mind is always very active.
Q: What’s it like working on a show that is more fast-paced, like ‘Big Love,’ compared to a film like this, where there are 80 takes?
CS: As tedious as the 80 takes was, I liked it because you just got to try so many more things. You got to just experiment with it. The 80 takes wasn’t just because of performance, obviously. He’s so technical that a lot of it had to do with camera moves and lighting or background. With the children, it was obviously very difficult, so any of the scenes with the kids, there’s always lots of [takes]. The pace of the show is just insane. What they make us do is unfair. It really is. [Laughs] There’s all this chaos and then they’re like, "Okay, roll sound, we’re shooting, now act!” It’s very hard.
Q: Who is your favorite designer of clothing?
CS: I don’t buy anything new. I only buy vintage.
Q: You said you were too disturbed to finish the book, but you liked the ‘Zodiac’ script. What was the draw? Why did you sign up?
CS: Fincher. For me, throughout my career, I’ve worked with Lars von Trier, Woody Allen, Jim Jarmusch -- we made a short film together. I haven’t necessarily always liked the parts. It’s been more about the opportunity to work with them and be in one of their pictures. So, I like David Fincher. Like in "American Psycho,” my character shows more of the human side, and I felt like Melanie brought a bit of that to "Zodiac” too and I liked that.
INTERWIEW WITH CHLOE