Would you want to know the exact moment you would meet your soulmate? In the unusual and very original new sci-fi romantic comedy TiMER, Oona O’Leary, played by Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Emma Caulfield, is desperate to find “the one” who is meant for her.
In this alternate version of present-day Los Angeles, a reasonable installation fee and moderate monthly charges allows anyone to have a timer implanted in their wrist, which accurately displays the number of days, hours, minutes and seconds until you will meet your soulmate. However, Oona faces the rare dilemma of a blank timer, meaning that her soulmate – whoever and wherever he is – doesn’t have one. At nearly 30, Oona is searching for her perfect match, wondering if she can just give in and let herself experience the unpredictability of the unknown, when it comes to love.
We recently caught up with actress Emma Caulfield on the phone, and she shared her gratefulness for being able to play such a well-written character in a great indie film that has something to say. She also talked about her role in Marti Noxon’s new television series for TeenNick, called Gigantic (premiering in July), which takes a fictional look at the complicated lives of children of Hollywood celebrities, as well as her original comic Contropussy, about an ordinary house cat looking for excitement in the world outside. Check out what she had to say after the jump:
Question: How did you get involved with this unusual film? Was it just something you had auditioned for?
Emma: It is an unusual film, and I’m grateful for that. I’m very, very happy that I was a part of it. I auditioned for it, pure and simple, and I really wanted to be cast. I was very lucky that (writer/director) Jac Schaeffer liked what I did in the room and let me be a part of it.
What was the appeal of this film and character for you?
Emma: It was really well written, which I find very rare, in my experience. I just don’t read a lot of really great stuff, nor do I see a lot of great stuff. So, when you come across a script that’s really original and has something to say, I think every actor goes after it like rabid dogs. Particularly for women, it is very difficult to find a part that is not relegated to second-class citizenry, as the girlfriend or the arm candy. She actually is out there, front and center, and is interesting and dynamic, on a lot of levels.
Was there anything that you could most identify with, in regard to Oona?
Emma: I think the quest for the perfect partner is pretty universal. Loneliness is pretty universal. There really are just universal themes throughout the film, so in that sense, it really wasn’t difficult for me to tap into some part of my life where I remember being frustrated about whatever idiot I was dating or getting over some idiot I was dating, or being single for a long time and going, “Where is he?” I could just go into the memory bank and pull out a plethora of experiences to draw upon.
Once you were cast in this role, did you want to give any input into her development?
Emma: I didn’t feel there was anything missing. Definitely not. I thought she was very well-rounded. Jac wrote a great script and did a great job directing it as well.
Did you have any say with her look?
Emma: My look was a constant source of agony and disdain for me. I had cut my hair short and that was a huge mistake, which I’ll never do again. The cut itself wasn’t really that bad. It was just very layered, choppy and funky. The way I wore it out, in my day-to-day, was all right, but Jac had seen it not done and just laying there, kind of flat, and she was like, “I love that.” She wanted it very not the way I had it cut, and I absolutely hated it. Every day, I was like, “Can I please curl it up, funk it up and put some mouse in it?” And, she was like, “No, I love it! It frames your face so perfectly.” I get it, though. I understand. She very much wanted me to have the everyday, relatable, insert-woman-into-situation look. So, for the film it definitely worked, but for my ego, it was sad. I was like, “I want to look prettier!” I was being a vain asshole, pretty much.
What was it like to work with writer/director Jac Schaeffer? Does it help you, as an actor, to have a director who has also written the script?
Emma: Yeah, there’s a huge difference. To speak specifically, obviously Jac had a really firm grasp on it because she had written it. She had very distinctive ideas about how things should go because she heard it in her brain, long before we ever got to start filming it. So, that was very helpful. Luckily for me, how she heard it was how I wanted to do it, so it worked out pretty nice, which is probably why she hired me. However I read it in the room, it resonated with her. That was great. It’s different when you have a director who is slightly removed from the piece and has their own interpretation, which isn’t bad at all. Both are good. This was just unique.
Did you enjoy getting to work with someone as accomplished as JoBeth Williams? What do you learn from working with someone like her?
Emma: First of all, when I met her, she was on the set and I didn’t realize she was playing my mother. Initially, it was somebody else, who I was also a huge fan of. And then, we started filming and the scenes with the mother were coming in slightly later, so I didn’t know what had ended up having. I was standing in my trailer and Jac walked up and said, “Emma, here, meet your mom, JoBeth Williams,” and I squealed like a schoolgirl. I made an absolute ass of myself. I was like, “I love you! Oh, my god!” I went up and gave her a huge hug and was immediately humbled. I felt like, “Oh, god, I better make sure I bring my A-game ’cause I’m not going to be able to get away with anything.” She just promotes that kind of work ethic. She just commands it, by being in the room. She’s amazing. She’s everything I would have imagined her to be, and couldn’t be nicer.
How was it to work with co-stars Michelle Borth, John Patrick Amedori and Desmond Harrington?
Emma: It was exactly as easy as it looked, if not more so. The minute we got together, we were friends. We talk and hang out, and I love them. I thought I was a flake with the phone and calling people back, but Michelle is even worse than I am. We have a lot in common. I just love them. If I could keep them in my pocket, all the time, I would. It was just a natural, effortless communication, ease and chemistry between all of us. We all just really liked each other, from the get-go.
In your personal opinion, is it better not knowing things, like when you’ll meet your soulmate? Don’t you think that would take the mystery out of romance and life?
Emma: Yeah. Part of me really wants to know things and control the outcome of events. Of course, it’s impossible, so it’s an exercise in futility. It would probably just be better, if I would just surrender to everything, all the time. So, the smart answer would be, “No, of course not. Let things unfold the way that they’re going to.” Had it ever been a viable possibility, I might have made the mistake in the past of saying, “Yeah, I’ll take that. I’ll know the outcome.” And, I think the other part of me would have been very disappointed to have missed out on the ride. We’re shaped by everything. We’re shaped by our experiences, good and bad.
How was it to reunite with Marti Noxon for your new TV show, “Gigantic”? What’s it like to work with someone that you haven’t gotten to work with since “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”?
Emma: It’s effortless. It’s strange. Sometimes I feel like it’s a little bit of a deja vu situation. She’s walking around on the set and I’m reminded of the many years I saw her walking around on the set. In some regards, it’s like no time has passed. In other ways, I’m reminded of the history and I remember how much time has actually passed. It’s great. She was always a great boss, and she still is. She was always a great writer, and still is. She knows how to write for me.
Who are you playing on the show?
Emma: I don’t play Anya, but there are similar characteristics. The character I play is kind of an asshole, but loveable. She’d be great, if she could get out of her own way.
How did you end up creating your own comic book, “Contropussy”?
Emma: It came about, initially, because I have a cat who’s rad. I’ve had many cats, but this one, in particular, is incredibly special. He’s not allowed out at night, but sometimes he’ll just get out, despite my best efforts, and he’ll come back like he’s just been out boozing it all night and he’s hung-over and miserable. I thought, “What do you do when you’re gone? What trouble do you get into? What other life do you have, that I’m just totally unaware of?” One day, I was driving in my car and Prince’s song “Controversy” came on, and I thought he was saying “Contropussy.” I was like, “Oh, what a great play on words.” And then, I had a little light bulb pop over my head, so I called my writing partner and said, “What do you think about writing about a cat, even though we’re not going to really be writing about a cat, and making it a satirical take on human behavior?” And, it just took off from there. We couldn’t be having more fun writing it ’cause we’re free to really do anything, in that genre and medium. Right now, we’ve gone really political. At this point, she’s our take on Sarah Palin right now. We’re having a lot of fun.
Where can people check that out, if they want to read it?
Emma: It’s online at www.Contropussy.com . You can order the book online, and it’s also in print as well, so it’s now at select comic book stores. I’m signing here in L.A., on May 5th at Meltdown Comics, and you can get it there.