Michael Stuhlbarg on Josephine Decker’s Masterful Work Directing ‘Shirley’

     February 4, 2020

If you’re looking for a great conversation about on-set collaborations, you’ve come to the right place! Director Josephine Decker returns to the Sundance Film Festival after the premiere of her feature debut, Madeline’s Madeline, with her latest film, Shirley. It stars Logan Lerman and Odessa Young as Fred and Rose, a young couple who move in with Stanley Hyman (Michael Stuhlbarg) and acclaimed author Shirley Jackson (Elisabeth Moss) so that Fred can take the job of assistant professor of literature at the local college. 

Shirley is a powerhouse performance showcase for the quartet, with Decker encouraging the group to explore and play as they dug deeper into this fictional interpretation of Shirley Jackson’s world. We were lucky enough to have Decker and Stuhlbarg swing by the Collider Studio at the Kia Supper Suite in Park City and they spoke at length about this unique collaboration and also about working with rising star Odessa Young. Check out the video interview at the top of this article to hear them discuss making the film which was honored with the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Auteur Filmmaking at the festival.

kia-supper-suite-marbl-toronto-logo-sundance-2020Finally, I’d like to give special thanks to our Collider Studio Presenting Partner, the Kia Telluride SUV, the 2020 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year. Additional thanks to support sponsors Glenfiddich Scotch, Peroni Beer, Marbl Toronto, mou footwear, ic! berlin sunglasses and clothing lines, Laundry by Sheli Segal and Orginal Penguin.

Josephine Decker & Michael Stuhlbarg:

  • 00:30 – What is Shirley about?
  • 03:15 – What burning questions did Stuhlbarg have for Decker when he first signed on and what did he learn during the course of making the film?
  • 04:50 – Stuhlbarg on Decker as an actor’s director and creating an environment that encouraged him to play on set.  
  • 06:41 – Decker on directing from a script she didn’t write for the first time.
  • 09:39 – As a highly collaborative director, what does she look for during the casting process to ensure she’s casting the right actor and also a great collaborator. 
  • 11:02 – On working with Odessa Young. 
  • 13:48 – The category Stuhlbarg would add to the Oscars.
  • 14:42 – Decker on the lack of female directors in the Best Director race at the Academy Awards this year.

Image via Sundance Institute

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