Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress: “A Mad Fantasy Musical Extravaganza”
Whit Stillman’s (Barcelona, The Last Days of Disco) latest film, Damsels in Distress, hits theaters in New York and Los Angeles this Friday, April 6th.
The film follow a trio of girls, Violet Wister (Greta Gerwig), Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and Heather (Carrie MacLemore), at Seven Oaks East Coast college, who set out to rescue their fellow students from depression, grunge and low standards of every kind in very unconventional ways. Soon they take new student Lily (Analeigh Tipton) under their wings and along for the ride on their bizarre quest.
The cast including Greta Gerwig (“Violet”), Analeigh Tipton (“Lily”), Megalyn Echikunwoke (“Rose”), Carrie MacLemore (“Heather”), Adam Brody (“Charlie”), Hugo Becker (“Xavier”) and director Whit Stillman recently took some time to answer a few questions about Damsels in Distress during a press event.
Here are some highlights on what was discussed and what you need to know about the film.
– “A mad fantasy musical extravaganza.” – Greta Gerwig describing the film.
– Analeigh Tipton explained that the movie is witty and smart and that when you go back and watch it again you can find new things that you hadn’t noticed the first time.
– Adam Brody views the movie as a Microcosm of society.
– Greta Gerwig fell in love with the character of Violet when she read the script. She originally was supposed to play Lily, but she loved Violet so much that she decide to play her instead.
– Initially Analeigh Tipton brought at different idea to her character to director Whit Stillman. He initially wanted her to be a shallow character without layers, and she wanted her to be a sweet small town girl. They ended up combining the two. They took out the shallowness and replaced it with skepticism. Instead of thinking she’s better than anyone, it flipped into Lily questioning whether anyone’s better than anyone.
– Originally, the character of Xavier was supposed to be an American named Tom, but Whit Stillman had a hard time casting the part, until a manager sent him a video of Hugo Becker.
– Megalyn Echikunwoke didn’t get a coach for her character’s British accent, she watched English movies and asked some of her English friends.
– Originally Rose wasn’t even supposed to have a British accent.
– In the film, Violet obsesses about smell. Greta Gerwig is not a fan of perfume herself. And neither is Megalyn Echikunwoke, turns out she has a very sensitive nose.
– Gerwig tap-danced and sang in her audition even though no one asked her to do it, but she so wanted to do that.
– Within the fantasy there’s lots of personal material from Whit Stillman. He feels really close to the Violet character.
– Megalyn Echikunwoke explained that Whit Stillman’s directing style is very collaborative. He was so inviting of ideas and wanted to know what they thought about everything. He is one of the few writers who writes well for women.
– Carrie MacLemore feels spoiled now because it was a great experience for her first film.
– Everyone had some sort of dance training in the cast, except for one person (they wouldn’t tell us who, maybe you can figure it out when watching the movie).
– They had a couple days to rehearse the dance number from the film and the choreography was pretty much make it up as you go along based on the capacity of cast members.
– The movie also features a dance called the Sambola dance at the end, which was a collaborative effort where everyone came up with some moves.
– Carrie MacLemore’s favorite scene is the “hey” moment at the bar between her character Heather and Thor (Billy Magnussen).
– Fun fact: The clothes the girls wear on screen are a mix of their own clothes, because of the film’s low budget.
– “I’m a very bad producer” – Whit Stillman explaining why it’s been so long since he did a film.
– “Thor.” – Greta Gerwig joking about which guy she would be most attracted to in the film in real life (you’ll get it once you see the film)
– The only way Whit Stillman can construct a character is by writing the dialogue first, which then becomes the scene and through the scenes you get a story.
– Greta Gerwig would like to direct, but she is intimidated by it, especially since it’s a pretty male world.
And that’s all, now you know everything (well almost everything) about Damsels in Distress. Don’t forget the movie will be out in theaters in New York and Los Angeles tomorrow.