The indie dramedy Afternoon Delight tells the story of Rachel (Kathryn Hahn), an affluent, stay-at-home, thirty-something mom who’s feeling disconnected from her husband (Josh Radnor). When she visits a strip club to spice up her marriage and gets a private lap dance from McKenna (Juno Temple), she soon becomes obsessed with saving her, even going so far as to make her a live-in nanny, which can’t possibly turn out well for anyone involved.
At the film’s press day, actress Juno Temple spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about playing such fascinating and fearless young women, how fully realized this character was, the importance of having a female writer/director (Jill Soloway) on this film, and how she likes taking roles in movies that make you think afterwards. She also talked about her work in Horns, and how she can’t wait for people to see the finished product and Daniel Radcliffe’s performance in it. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
JUNO TEMPLE: I guess I keep my eyes open for them. It’s quite quick for me to know if I want to play a character or not, but I think I’ve been really lucky in people giving me chances to play these really interesting young women. It’s an honor that people believe that I can go there and play these women. It’s fun, too, ‘cause you learn a lot, playing all these different young women who are all going through slightly different things and they’re figuring out their lives in different ways. It’s going to be interesting, as I get older, to see what happens.
Was McKenna fully realized, on the page, or was she someone you felt you needed to talk to the director about, at all?
TEMPLE: Yeah, we definitely discussed her, at length, but she was very much there, on the page. When I read the script, I was very taken with her because she is a powerhouse. She’s in this world that 99.9% of the time is a horrid world to be a part of and that normally comes from desperation, and brings a lot of sadness and trouble. She is one in a million young women who actually quite enjoys her job. It’s her way of giving. She feels like she’s got a lot to give, in that way. It’s her way of giving love. And I thought that was really interesting.
I liked the whole concept where she is being rescued, but she is the one that doesn’t need to be rescued. These people need to look at themselves and actually rescue themselves first, and I think that’s a really important message for people to learn. You can’t really help people until you’ve helped yourself first. It’s important to not be naive about this world and know that it’s not necessarily a good place to be, but I also feel like someone like McKenna will do this for a little while and then she will stop. I feel like she’s a creative person and she’s a person who’s a very free spirit, and people are quite shocked that she enjoys the world that she’s a part of.
(Writer/director) Jill [Soloway] had definitely created her on the page. The thing that we built up was the kind of character she was when she was being her role-playing version of herself, and then when she was being herself. It was the idea of creating this candy floss creature that put on this great act, and I loved that. I thought that was really well done. I also really loved the relationship between McKenna and Rachel (Kathryn Hahn). What McKenna ignites in Rachel is fascinating. She creates this crazy passion in Rachel, of being a mother, of being a lover, and of wanting to be young still and feel sexual still. It was very brave of Jill to put down on those pages the loss of sexuality that sometimes happens for women when they have a child and they’re in a marriage. And then, the idea of bringing this little bombshell into your household and having to figure that out was genius.
With a character like this, do you think it’s important that it was a female writer/director?
TEMPLE: Yeah, absolutely, down to my toes. With every pour in my body, I feel like that. I’m not sure if she would have been this character, if she had been a man. The whole film is a very female movie, but the Jeff (Josh Radnor) character is such a great character, too. It’s very much about what’s going on inside these women’s heads, but also figuring out what is in front of you. You don’t always have to look in the distance for what’s going on over there, when you actually see what’s right in front of you. You have to make that work and make that something you appreciate. For me, there is safety in playing a woman that is very sexualized and having a woman direct you with that. Men and women just look at sex in very, very different ways. Being a woman is a very powerful thing, I think, and you don’t want to abuse that. I think it was really great having Jill because she so admires being a woman and so loves the traits that women have, and does not take that for granted, at all. I think that really comes across in the film.
Even the lap dance between McKenna and Rachel was handled differently.
TEMPLE: Yeah, it’s very close, too. The whole thing is very emotional. It was interesting because we had a male D.P. and a female director, so you had the best of both worlds going on. The whole process of making the film was so fun. It was very quick, as these little indies all are, but it was very passionate, all around, with the cast and crew. Everybody worked their fucking asses off and captured little moments, like the lap dance or the foot massage, which is such a sensual and honest moment. McKenna has this youthful sexuality. You could look at that as a seduction scene, but it’s also just a scene of mad love for somebody and wanting to ease the pain for somebody.
Many of the movies you’ve done really generate conversations for the audience. Are you looking for things that you think will spark conversation?
TEMPLE: And will make you think afterwards. That’s something that I get turned on by, when I go to see a film. I like to leave the movie theater and still be thinking about the film and questioning why the character did that. Even if you see a really good horror film, you’re like, “Why the fuck didn’t they turn the lights on?! I would turn the lights on!” But then, when you’ve got these great storylines, you just question when you would do, if you were in the situation. I love that. I think it’s invigorating. I think film should be interactive. But at the same time, it’s also great to go see a big popcorn movie and be taken to a complete fantasy world. The joy of that is that you can imagine what you’d be doing in 200 years, sitting in a space shuttle. I think it’s important to find projects that evoke people into conversation. It’s like reading a good book. You want to talk about it. Going to an art gallery, you want to talk about it. So, I think seeing films should be interactive. I’d rather have people see a film that I’m in and either absolutely love it or absolutely hate it, than be like, “Oh, yeah, it was good.” That’s the worst! I’d rather them say, “I absolutely hated it, didn’t get it and it didn’t work for me.” Then, I want to know why, and that evokes a different conversation.
TEMPLE: Definitely not Maleficent, and definitely not Sin City. I’ve gotten to see a little bit of Horns, but I’m definitely excited to see that on in full and finished. I’m intrigued by it. Reading the script, each page brought a different film. There were moments of horror, moments of a torrid love story and moments of a fairy tale, so I’m fascinated to see the end product of that. I think it’s going to be really great for people to see Daniel Radcliffe in it. Everything for him is about to just blow up. He’s about to take over. He’s such a great person, and I’m really excited for people to see him in Horns.
Are you someone who’s comfortable watching yourself, or is it easier to see yourself in these films where you’re surrounded by effects and in a whole different world?
TEMPLE: I definitely don’t like to watch playback, on the day. A big thing for me is trusting the director, so I don’t need to watch playback. I feel like the director is gonna tell me whether it’s right or not. Also, you feel it instinctively. You’re like, “Oh, that was a horrid take, let’s go again.” I’m not someone who doesn’t want to see the films, but I like to see them as an end product when the whole nuance of the character is put together. Then, you can really watch it and feel like, “Wow, that made sense,” or “I blew that!” You learn from it. It’s like taking an exam. I’m not necessarily a big fan of watching them over and over again. If I’m seen them once or twice, I’m probably good. But, I’ve been really lucky to work with a lot of really great actors, so watching the films back, it’s really important to admire the people that you were working with and see their full performance, too.
Do you have any idea what you’re going to do next?
TEMPLE: I’ve got a few movies lined up, and fingers crossed all the financing falls into place. It should be a busy Fall, if it works out, which would be great. They’re different characters, too. There are two movies where I keep my clothes on, so that’s a big one. That will be exciting. My parents will be very proud. They’re challenging characters, which I’m excited about.
Afternoon Delight opens in theaters on August 30th.