I recently got the chance to talk to Janine Barris about her role in Steve Carell’s new movie, ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’. Here, Janine talks about what it was like working with Steve and the other cast and crew and which three people she would invite to dinner…
Hey Janine. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. Of course we‘re here to talk to you about your new film ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love‘.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
Absolutely! And thank you for the opportunity. Cal Weaver (played by Steve Carell) discovers that his wife (Julianne Moore) cheated on him with her co-worker and wants a divorce. Cal finds his second wind in life when he meets Jacob (Ryan Gossling), a womanizer who teaches him how to become a master of the modern dating scene. After a hilarious adventure ensues, the new suave Cal realizes that something is missing in his life and decides that he must follow his heart after all.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I had the great fortune of being called in by the casting director, Mindy Marin, to read for three different roles, which can be very challenging. I wound up getting cast for another role that I did not read for; the role of Heather. I was so excited to find out that I would be working in a scene opposite Steve Carell and with two of the most talented directors out there.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play the woman who Cal (Steve Carell) first tries to pick up after his relationship with his wife is broken. It’s a significant moment because he is feeling so lost and heartbroken and is reaching out for the warmth of an attractive woman. His awkward come on line doesn’t work and he is left feeling even more rejected. My rejection of him is the last straw, the catalyst that makes him seek the help of Jacob (Ryan Gossling) who mentors him in the arts of dating and picking up women. Cal realizes that he needs to become a real man if he wants to find love.
An IMDB reviewer, ‘DonFishies’ has said – ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love. is one of, if not the best, American romantic comedies of the past decade’ – would you say this is accurate? How is it different and unique?
‘Crazy Stupid Love’ is absolutely one of the best romantic comedies of the past decade. The acting is spot-on, the music is moving, and the directing is stunning but even more importantly, this film goes beyond the general romantic comedy formula that most blockbuster hits follow. It’s message is very mature and deep. To quote my friend and respected TV writer, Roger Wolfson, this film is different because, “It gives us something to think about. We’ve been given an opportunity to think about our dreams, and how our romance connects to that. About the motivational and personal power that comes from our passions and desires, even if unrequited.”
I think this film reminds us that only through complete acceptance of who we are can we come to fully love another.
The film stars Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore and Emma Stone, with Glenn Ficarra and John Requa onboard as directors – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set?
It had been a dream of mine to work with Steve Carell ever since I fell in love with his character on the TV show, ‘The Office’. I think I must have watched every single episode at least twice. So you can imagine the excitement I felt when I got to sit down face to face with him on set. And to my delight, he is as genuine and talented a man as I hoped he would be. He is also a very serious and sensitive actor with a strong commitment to his work. And pee in the pants funny, of course. I had to fight back tears of laughter during takes. I met Ryan and Emma in the dressing room and they were both extremely generous and warm people. Their work in this film was breathtaking and I am a huge fan. Glen Ficarra and John Requa are two of the most humble and down to earth directors I think you’ll find in this industry. And their direction was so textured and beautiful. They really captured the heart and soul of Dan Fogelman’s incredible script.
Let’s talk a bit about you Janine. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
My Mom would tell you that I started performing when I was two years old. She took me to see the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall in New York City and instead of sitting in the seat and watching the show like the rest of the audience I stood up on my mother’s lap, faced the crowd, and started kicking my legs up in the air. I think I’ve always loved the idea of being an actress but it wasn’t until my teen years that I decided I was going to pursue it as a career. I was 16 and cast as the role of Bella in my High School production of ‘Lost In Yonkers’ by Neil Simon. To this day it is one of my favourite plays. The director took the cast on a field trip to watch Mercedes Ruehl in a play at the Circle in the Square Theatre in New York City. Mercedes had played Bella in the Broadway production and film of ‘Lost in Yonkers’. I went home that night and was so inspired by her performance. I fell in love with her charm, humor, and courage and wanted to be just like her. She is a powerhouse of an artist. Yes, doing ‘Lost in Yonkers’ was a very defining moment in my life. I knew that I was going to be an actress and that I was in it for the long haul.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the industry?
Do not let your career as an actress define who you are as person. I think a lot of the “struggling artist” mentality comes from a sense that one’s happiness is defined by their status, power, and fame – on these externals. I would say do it because you love it, because there is nothing else you would rather do, and because you must. And then work to develop yourself as the kind of artist who is in this biz to make a difference, to create value, and to really touch move and inspire people. Put yourself in a good class with a teacher you can trust. The art of acting is a muscle. And like any muscle, it needs to be developed and strengthened regularly. I would also say, “Don’t believe the hype”. Don’t listen to the nay sayers who say you’re too old, quircky, ugly, young, skinny, fat, or smart to be successful as an actor. You create your career and your potential in this industry is limitless.
What is your favourite holiday destination and why?
My favorite holiday destination is a ‘staycation’. When you don’t actually go away but turn wherever you live into a holiday. For me, being that I now live in Los Angeles, that looks like going to the beach, eating out at my favourite restaurants, going out to see a movie and doing NO WORK for a weekend. Throw in spending time with my family and friends and I’m in heaven.
If you could have a dinner with three historical guests, living or dead – who would you choose and why?
What a fun question! I would choose the musical artist, Prince, because he is a phenominal performer and musical genius. I would love to ask him what inspires his music and what are some of the most difficult obstacles he had to overcome that have helped shape him to be the extraordinary talent he is today. I would also love to meet Marylin Monroe. My Uncle, George Barris, is a well known photographer most known for taking some of the most celebrated photos of her later years as well as being one of her closest friends. I would love to interview her and my Uncle together and experience their bond and friendship face to face. Lastly, I would love to meet Eleanor Roosevelt. Her extraordinary heart and mind that led her to achieve some of the greatest accomplishments for human rights is inspiring and fascinating.
What has been the most interesting piece of local / national news you’ve heard in the last month?
I am very interested in the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy LA movements. I think it is amazing that we are all here to witness and participate in a peaceful revolution that is on the brink of changing the totem pole of our economic system. And it is truly a paradigm shift.
What’s coming up for you in 2012?
In 2012, I will be playing the love interest in the romantic comedy, ‘Fashionista’ set to be released during Fashion week of 2013. The film is about a shoplifter who falls in love with his impulse control disorder therapist set in the backdrop of New York City. I will earn my first producer credit on this film as well, which I am very excited about. You can also catch me in a new webisode series called ‘We Are Angels’ currently in production and the webisode ‘Writer’s Block’. My short film, ‘Run’, will be hitting the festival circuit shortly.
Thanks for the interview!