JENA MALONE: A REAL GO-GETTER
EXCLUSIVE Interview by Paul Fischer.
Two years after we spoke about this film at Sundance, The Go-Getter is finally having its time in theatres and the always beautiful and ferociously who smart Jena Malone co-stars in this beautifully comedic tale of a teenager takes a road-trip in a stolen car to find his long-lost brother. Jena Malone plays a sexually liberated young woman he meets on his odyssey of self-discovery. The always fun actress and now singer talked exclusively to Paul Fischer.Paul Fischer
: Do you remember what drew you about this character in Go-Getter, Joely? Jena Malone
: Yeah. I had never played someone, a woman on the cusp of learning to toy with her, you know, sexual manipulation of, you know, control. What it means to be a woman. And there are these strange things that she's learning to balance, and I thought that was really interesting. Because it is manipulation, and it is fantasy. And it is drawn from what our mothers do, and it's drawn from magazines, and it's drawn from television, how we view our sexuality, some semblance of how we control it. I thought it was really interesting, to play a mix of all the other women in Mercer's life. And I loved the script, you know?Paul Fischer
: Could you identify with her at all? It doesn't sound like you could, but I don't know, maybe there's an aspect of you.Jena Malone
: Parts of me, of course, just becoming older and trying to figure out what it is to be, you know, understanding your sexuality. I mean, she's crazy, I definitely know women like her and sort of hate them. So there's also the idea of wanting to understand, have empathy, and learning to love that thing that I find so maybe unattractive at times, you know?Paul Fischer
: Are roles like this easy for you to come by? Do you still have to fight for stuff, despite the fact that you've done somewhere like 30 films since the mid-90s.Jena Malone
: But listen, I think that whether I'm fighting for it, whether they're fighting for me, there's always a fight, there's always going to be a fight within independent films, within things that aren't bankable, within things that don't require, you know, a shiny guaranteed paycheck. There's always going to be a fight whether it's on my end or the director's end or on the producer's end, or it's fighting to get the film , you know, to the light of day. There's always a fight, I feel like it's a struggle you have to become really comfortable with, because it's part of the creation of the project, it's part of the evolution of the project.Paul Fischer
: Is the indy world one you're more comfortable with, as opposed to the studio world?Jena Malone
: I feel that I don't really know the difference anymore, to be perfectly honest. I just feel like when you're doing something with your own money because you love it, then there's usually more clarity and sense of purpose and more of a distinct voice then when a bunch of people are coming together, throwing ideas around, there's a lot of money, it's not just one singular vision, it's sort of four different writers, interviewing thousands of directors. I don't know. But then sometimes, you know, Sean Penn's able to sort of, you know-to make his film, and then that's exactly where the line borders, you know, being able to get $25 million to make an indy film that you believe in that's going to come out in multiple theaters. That's the eternal goal, that's the dream.Paul Fischer
: So yet here you are having appeared, in The Ruins, which struck me as being something of an odd choice for you.Jena Malone
: Good. I'm glad. I love it when my choices are unexpected and surprising.Paul Fischer
: Why did you want to do that? Are you a fan of the genre?Jena Malone
: Yeah. I'm a fan of a genre that talks about fear and strange abscesses of the mind, and, you know, being able to sort of play with that the manipulation of fear and, I mean, sometimes that's the most, the thing you'll learn the most from. you know, watching films like Rosemary's Baby and Lord of the Flies inspired me to want to explore something of a more extreme nature, like The Ruins. Paul Fischer
: How different was it?Jena Malone
: It was an extremely physical role for me, something that I had never been demanded of, or demanded of myself for a part. So, I felt like it was something so different than anything I'd ever done that I felt really amazing to be a part of because it was so hard and so strange. It was work every day, and it was challenging, you know? Paul Fischer
: The studio didn't screen that one for the press, so I can't even tell you what I thought of it. But I assume that it's a movie-Jena Malone
: You haven't seen it?! You should go and see it right now and email me and tell me what you think.Paul Fischer
: Immediately! In fact I'll go the next available.Jena Malone
: No, no, I think it's coming out on DVD. No, I'm proud of it, regardless of wherever it stands within the cinematic shelf, I think it's a really beautiful examination of life in the extremities.Paul Fischer
: Tell me about The Messenger. What is that? You play a character in that called Kelly, right?Jena Malone
: I do.Paul Fischer
: And this movie is about-Jena Malone
: It's about a lot of things. It's hard to talk about what it's about and what it's not about. For me it's about the sort of, the re-imagining of how long can work in a world where we have to deal with a lot of loss and pain, and how to re-imagine yourselves. That love can come in many forms, with friendship, touch, and discovery. It's about this soldier, Ben Foster plays, who comes back from Iraq with injuries, and has two months left on his tour, and is enrolled as a communication officer. So he sort of becomes the, to go and notify the family members of soldier's death. Partners with Woody Harrelson. It becomes a strange film about, you know, male companionship and sort of the roots of it. And I play Ben Foster's ex-girlfriend that is now to be engaged after he comes back.Paul Fischer
: What about your music?Jena Malone
: It's going well. Things are going really well. I started a new project. I don't know, you should go to There Was an Old Woman, which will lead you to either of the MySpace pages. I've got a new band I'm working with right now I'm very excited about. Paul Fischer
: Does the band have a name?Jena Malone
: It's called Shoe.Paul Fischer
: Why?Jena Malone
: Well there are thousands of reasons. It was a dream I had, I wanted to build a shoe, and old leather workman's boot that was a mobile music cart, it would be a one-woman band. I was the builder. [INAUDIBLE] Paul Fischer
: Are you recording or touring?Jena Malone
: We just finished an album. It's available to buy online. I started a record label, and you can go to their website, There Was an Old Woman, or you can go to the MySpace page, myspace.com.theshoeperforms. Paul Fischer
: Wow. Do you see music as being a fundamental area that you want to focus on, or are you going to be able to find the balance between acting and music?Jena Malone
: It's like the balance between you know, a sister and a friend, being, you know, a woman and a girl, it's all a balance. But I feel like something is driving me, there's no reason to stop it in any way just because I have other loves. I feel like they all feed each other.Paul Fischer
: You're a woman now, aren't you? Jena Malone
: I'm 23 years old, shit!Paul Fischer
: Yes, you are, in fact. What about creating sort of a persona life for yourself, are you able to? You seem to be so busy in your professional aspirations, do you have time for a personal life?Jena Malone
: Of course. I mean, what is personal. it's everything. I have-my [??] life right now is more than it ever has been ever.Paul Fischer
: Are you in love?Jena Malone
: No, no - yes, and no, with everything.Paul Fischer
: You are really not going to give anything out here?Jena Malone
: There are so many things to give out, you know? Paul Fischer
: I see. Are you signed on for anything else?Jena Malone
: I'm just focusing on my music right now. Just doing the best I can on it.
Starring: Lou Taylor Pucci, Zooey Deschanel, Jena Malone
Director: Martin Hynes
Screenwriter: Martin Hynes
Producer: Lucy Barzun, Lori Christopher, Larry Furlong
Composer: M. Ward
Ward, The Go-Getter is the story of Mercer White (Lou Taylor Pucci), a straight-arrow 19 year-old who, eight months after the death of his mother, steals a car and sets out to find his older half-brother he hasn't seen in fourteen years.
Its quite the trip.
He's barely out of town when a cell phone left behind in the stolen car begins to ring. Mercer immediately finds himself talking to the car's owner, Kate (Zooey Deschanel). Surprisingly open to Mercers journey, she does not threaten to call the police, but instead offers him the most curious deal: Mercer can use her car until hes done with it on one condition: that he call her and tell her about his trip all along the way.
Despite this stroke of good fortune, almost nothing proceeds as expected for Mercer from there. In seemingly rapid succession, he is punched by a lapsed-Buddhist, taken in by bohemian potters, seduced by Joely (a mysterious and sexy girl he's had a thing for since he was 11, played by Jena Malone) and has a slew of dangerous, humorous and eye-opening encounters that confound expectations: with a white cowboy hat, a philosopher-pornographer, a gun-and-hunting-knife-toting traveling liquor salesman, a very unusual pet store, and a bilingual hotel clerk with a vivid vocabulary and a one-track mind.
Through it all, Mercer turns out to be close on the trail of his half-brother, Arlen, who has left nothing but bruised feelings and suspicions behind him at every stop. The mere mention of Arlen's name provokes fury, panic and -- at least once -- the announcement that the injured party has generously chosen not to press charges.
Mercer's solace, his touchstone, through this life changing journey, proves to be Kate, who he continues to talk to as his adventure takes him across postcard-worthy landscapes of the American West: from Oregon to Nevada, through all of California and ultimately into Ensenada, Mexico.
In the end, Mercer finds and confronts his brother Arlen, the original object of his pursuit. But it is the wildness of the ride, the thrill of the pursuit and the discovery of a love he never saw coming that set this journey apart. A lot like life, its the chase, the search, the chaos that makes experiences worthwhile and for Mercer, stealing a car turned out to be just about the best choice hes ever made.
With a soundtrack boasting some of the biggest names in the indie music scene, a score by M. Ward and shot in the beautiful plains of the Mid-West, THE GO-GETTER is a road trip worth taking.