They may play opposite Eliza Scanlen in The Starling Girl, one as her conservative and controlling mother, one as her checked-out and drunk father, and another as her much-older lover, but Wrenn Schmidt, Jimmi Simpson, and Lewis Pullman light up when they talk about their leading actress.
Eliza Scanlen stars as Jem, a seventeen-year-old dancer growing up in an extremely religious community. They judge the way the slight outline of her bra shows through her leotard. They push her towards marriage and courting and away from secular music. Her parents (Schmidt and Simpson) pile on the pressure and teeter between absent, overbearing, and kind. When the pastor’s son (Pullman) returns from a mission abroad to become the Youth Group Leader, Jem starts to question her faith, family, and sexuality.
I got to sit down with Scanlen’s amazing cast to talk about working with her and first-time writer/director Laurel Parmet. Each one talked about finding something to hold on to in order to portray their role. Lewis Pullman talked about his own connection to interpretive dance. Wrenn Schmidt shared that both she and Scanlen shared a love of Mark Rylance and would quote him on set. Jimmi Simpson shared how his character’s connection to music got him mentally prepared to play an evangelized former rocker.
The Starling Girl opens in theaters on May 19th.