Since becoming an actor at age 11, Alia Shawkat has always been known for her intelligent and sarcastic characters, and this time her stint as Vanessa in Julian Farino’s The Oranges is no exception. Vanessa is the narrator of the story, and the daughter of David and Paige Walling (Hugh Laurie and Catherine Keener, respectively), who’s across the street neighbors Terry and Cathy Ostroff (Oliver Platt and Allison Janney) are more like family than friends. They live in a suburban bubble that holds a comfortable, if not happy existence. When the Ostroff’s daughter Nina (Leighton Meester) returns, she and David find themselves strangely attracted to one another. The Oranges tells the story of the aftermath of their affair, and how the families must pick up the pieces and deal with the fact that though unconventional, they may need to accept being different to be happy. (Also starring Adam Brody as Vanessa’s brother Toby).
During an exclusive interview with Shawkat at the press junket for The Oranges in New York City, she talked about beating out Ellen Page for the role, what her original audition was like, scenes that got cut from original versions of the script and why she likes the current ending of the film better than the original. She also discussed her tendency toward playing “quirky” characters and the atmosphere on this close-knit set. Finally, she told me all about being back on Arrested Development, which is currently shooting another season. I got the low-down on some of the differences between film and TV, what it’s like to work with all the same people after a 6 year hiatus, and she tells me about the strangeness of watching herself and Michael Cera onscreen while sitting next to him. She also discusses her painting career, and how fans can check out some of her work and gallery shows.