Opening in theaters this weekend is We Are What We Are. Based on the 2010 film Somos lo que hay the film centers on the Parkers, a reclusive family with strong sense of tradition and a taste for human flesh. Director Jim Mickle avoids the pitfalls of many American remakes by reinventing the film while staying true to the spirit of the original. With a bit of gender swapping and a complete cultural transfusion Mickle has taken the core of an idea and fleshed it out into a film that is grotesque, beautiful, and entirely his own. We Are What We Are stars Bill Sage, Julia Garner, Amber Childers, Kelly McGinnis, Michael Parks and Nick Damici.
Earlier this week I jumped on the phone for an exclusive interview with Garner. She talked about how she got involved in the film, bonding with the cast during the shoot, working with Jim Mickle and more. She also gave an update on her part in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
JULIA GARNER: In the film I play Rose Parker. She’s the middle child in the Parker family. And the film is about this family with a secret and how the family secret affects each character differently in the film. That’s what it’s about, family secrets and how it affects them and, you know, cannibals. [laughs]
How did you get involved with the film and what was it that attracted you to the project?
GARNER: I worked with one of the producers on Martha Marcy May Marlene, Andrew Corkin, and my film Electrick Children was at Berlinale and I met two of the other producers from We Are What We Are, Nicholas Shumaker and Jack Turner, in Berlin with Andrew Corkin. We were hanging out one night and they were telling me about the script and one of the producers said, “You should meet Jim Mickle.” And I said “Yeah sure.” So I read the script. First of all, I thought the dialogue was so interesting. I thought it was so gripping, the dialogue. It was great dialogue and I couldn’t put the script down. I read it in one sitting. And then I met Jim and the first thing I thought when I read the script when I was finished with it I was like, “You know this is a really great script, it’s very entertaining, but I have to do this for a director that I really trust because it’s the unthinkable.” Then I met Jim, we had a great meeting and it was great.
Did you guys have any chance do a little rehearsal for this film or did you sort of find everything on set?
GARNER: Kind of a little bit of both. We had a couple days where everyone was at a house and we rehearsed. Luckily I worked with the guy who played my father, Bill Sage, he’s a terrific actor and I admire him so much as an actor and a person. We worked together on the film that was in Berlin, Electrick Children, I was the lead in that. So we worked before. But we did have time to rehearse with Amber Childers, she played my sister, who was also outstanding.
You mentioned that you appreciated the dialogue, and the film has a very constructed feeling to it, did you have any room for improvising or were you pretty word for word with the script?
GARNER: I think we stayed pretty close word to word because I feel like the dialogue in the script is so important. Also because of what the movie’s about I think we stayed closer word to word rather than improvising.
GARNER: It was the most amazing vibe. Honestly it was such a great shoot. We were staying at this motel in the Catskills. Everyone just had bonfires every night. Everyone had so much fun. We played baseball, softball every Sunday. And everyone is still so close. I’m very close with everyone from this shoot. I made really wonderful friends. Yeah, it was honestly a magical shoot. But the scenes were difficult. I think we had so much fun on the set, but once we were shooting that’s when heavy stuff got in because the writing and the situation in the movie is so heavy [laughs].
The costuming in the film is very distinct. Did that help you get into character once you stepped into those dresses?
GARNER: Yeah, I think it’s weird because costume and wardrobe and setting, you don’t realize how important it is until you go to the set and you see the wardrobe and how much it helps. Yeah, so it was great. And I worked with the wardrobe before on another movie, Liz Vastola, so I worked with a lot of the same people before.
From the actors perspective what was your experience like working with Jim Mickle as your director?
GARNER: He is honestly so great. You completely trust him. He just leads you the way. It’s great because he gives you freedom, but at the same time he tells you what needs- he directs you in the most perfect way that every actor wants to be directed. So it was really honestly a dream to work with a director like that.
You kind of came out of nowhere with Martha Marcy May Marlene and have done a number of interesting pictures since then, talk a little bit about how you got here and what the last few years have been like for you.
GARNER: Very busy [laughs], very busy. How I got to this point, I worked a lot, I worked very hard and I take it very seriously. It’s something that I really love to do and I think that’s the most important thing in life. If you really love something just continue doing it. It’s been going well so far, knock on wood. There’s still things that I want to do even more.
The movies you’ve been a part of so far are very interesting and unique projects, what do you look for in a script?
GARNER: The thing that I look for in a script- I’m not looking for anything next because you never know where life’s going to take you so you can’t just expect I want to do this next. So I’m not expecting anything, I’m just hoping. I think that the most important thing for me is how is the character that I would be reading for? Is it interesting? Is there stuff to do? Are there things that you can do with the character? How can you play it out? Just those kinds of things that are very important for an actor. Also a good director and good dialogue. That’s very important because you’re bringing the words to life. So it’s very important for an actor to have good dialogue.
GARNER: I made that film a while ago so it’s kind of hard to say what to expect. I saw the footage a long time ago so it’s kind of hard to remember when you did something a long time ago [laughs]. I don’t know what they can expect. I don’t want anyone to expect anything from any of my films, I just want them to see it and then tell me what they think [laughs].
Of course everybody’s really excited for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, can you talk a little bit about what you shot and who you’re playing?
GARNER: We shot in Austin. I play Marcy. It wasn’t in the comic. It’s a new story and my scene partner was Joseph Gordon Levitt. He’s honestly such a wonderful guy and he’s great to work with so I was very lucky that I got to work with him.
Is there anything else coming up for you that you’re excited about?
GARNER: Yes, a lot of things. I just booked something that I’m going to do this fall that’s a mini-series. I can’t say what yet. And then I’m doing four movies next year. So there’s a lot of stuff.