The Shape of Things (2003)
Plays are vital, films are immortal. No one can resist
immortality, even if sacrifices need to be made. To quote Stan Lee,
Neil (Nurse Betty) LaBute, maverick writer/director, master
of respectable twisted ugliness, brings his London stage play to the
screen with the original cast in tow. Sorry – can’t tell you much
about the plot – it’s one of those movies. How’s this though? Adam
(Paul Rudd) is an overweight spaz until he meets hot, trend setting
artiste, Evenly (Rachel Weisz) and…things – all sorts of things –
begin to change in this four character drama.
This ain’t Swordfish. LaBute wants to draw you in and #&%$
you up in the head.
Hey, I’m all for brain teasers in the unconventional sense
and there is no greater compliment to a filmmaker than having their
audience lie in bed at night in the shadows and just stare at the ceiling,
going over scenes, going over lines, going over expressions. My only
reservation is, if I’m going to spend my time thinking about your film,
I need to believe you are for real.
Go see The Shape of Things, a peculiarly acted, nasty caper,
and decide for yourself whether we are being set up by LaBute with a
manipulative device or if he is speaking to our frailties and telling
truths. I am undecided – and that #&%$s me up.
BIO: Were you interested in moving your stage act to film?
Gretchen Mol: I was just happy to have the opportunity to be
part of something that will be this little piece of time and history. It
was a memory but now that it is committed to film – that’s just a
really cool idea. But it was hard, not in terms of making the film, but it
made me realize how much I love theater. I don’t have a lot of
experience with it, but I thought that it is ultimately for an
actor…neat, because going then to film it became not ours anymore. We
used to get to the theater at seven thirty and we would take this ride,
this journey every night. Then you get on set and all the different actors
are showing up at different times and then it takes this amount of time to
light it and it becomes like little pieces and you don’t get that flow
we got with the stage process…so I missed it. I missed that. But still
the bigger picture of having it translated to film was a great idea.
BIO: Like film is the necessary evil.
GM: [Laughs] Well, in a weird way…for me it was very hard.
I enjoyed never having to see it. I mean, I did it but I never had to see
it and now going to the screening it’s really hard to sit down and watch
it. It feels different to me. It’s hard to say this is just one
performance. It’s hard to do two hundred performances and then take one
and essentially have an editor decide what that is and a director…It
really is Neil’s piece – I mean he wrote it and he really put a stamp
on it, especially now that it is a film. You really see Neil in it more so
than with a play where the actors really get to bring a lot to it.
BIO: Paul, when you were in school, did you consider yourself
a nerd or a cool guy?
Paul Rudd: At the time I classified myself as a cool
guy…Looking back, then I realized that having Michael Hutchence wannabe
hair and having a Nagel painted on the back of my acid-washed jean jacket,
that I really fell more into the nerd category.
BIO: How dare you say that about Michael Hutchence!
PR: I love Michael Hutchence. Michael Hutchence is great, but
you see the thing is…I wasn’t Michael Hutchence. I wanted to be
Michael Hutchence. Actually, I fell somewhere between Michael Hutchence
and John Oates.
BIO: How dare you say that about Oates!
PR: I love Hall and Oates.
BIO: They’re so back.
PR: They are. I just bought a double album. But, you know,
when you’re looking at a Jewish kid in Kansas who’s eighteen trying to
go for that…
BIO: Now that you brought up the Jewish angle…
PR: I’m always going for the Jewish angle.
BIO: How are you celebrating Passover?
PR: Um, my parents were in town this weekend and mother
brought some macaroons and cinnamon balls. She usually sends them out
every year, but she brought them, and my dad and I put up some shelves.
BIO: This question is purely for my audience…
Rachel Weisz: Wait, who is your audience?
BIO: Jewish in New York.
BIO: My research tells me that you are a Jewish girl?
RW: My father is Jewish…
BIO: Ok. Being that it is Passover now; did you celebrate in
BIO: Back to the film itself: Is the film purely a parable or
is it a reflection of real life? Do you believe these events could take
place or is Neil just trying to teach us something?
PR: I don’t know if Neil is trying to teach anybody a
lesson. I don’ think he even has…I think he understands Adam and he
gets Evelyn’s argument. I think he wants to present something
interesting that hopefully people will have a reaction to. He just
doesn’t want to make a movie that people are gonna go to and be bored.
It is stretched to somewhat of an absurd level. I’ve heard him answer
the question. I spent the last week with him and people have asked him
this. He said, I’m only concerned with “Is it possible?” and not
just with this movie but anything he does – “Is it possible?”
Is it possible that two guys would find a deaf girl and make her
fall in love with them [the plot of
LaButes’s In the Company of Men]? It’s possible. It’s not
impossible and it’s not impossible that this [plot
of The Shape of Things] would happen. It is an imagined story but,
yeah, it could happen.
RW: I would say…I would agree and that it is a parable and
Neil is trying to make us think about something. I think all of his tales
are like moral fables or parables, and they’re pretty extreme. Could
these people exist? Um…
BIO: Could this story take place?
RW: Yeah…Yeah it could.
PR: I just think
it started from an idea. When Neil did In the Company of Men a lot of
people who interviewed him asked him if he thought a woman would do what
Aaron Eckhart did in that film and he said, well yeah I think a woman can
be manipulative but a woman would go about it in another way. She would
keep things to herself a little bit more.
BIO: I wonder if there are people like Adam who would go to
such extremes and people like Evelyn, who go beyond manipulator, to almost
pure villainess. Almost like a character from The Wizard of Oz?
RW: If that’s your take on it, that is completely
acceptable. She would argue that she’s an artist and this is her art.
That’s her argument. I mean, what’s so bad that happened to him?
He’s a good looking guy now. What’s so bad? You got your heart broken.
You’re twenty-one. So what? That’s what she’d say. Big fucking deal.
I’m being Evelyn now. She didn’t kill anyone. She’s just broken
someone’s heart. It happens everyday, all the time. He was unfaithful to
her. What’s so great about him? He was vain. He agreed to have a nose
job. I mean why didn’t he say no. He agreed to go to the gym. Why
didn’t he hang on to his old friends? He was unfaithful when he got good
BIO: Yeah, that is Evelyn talking…
RW: Like, that’s what she would say. A lot of people say
she’s a heartless evil bitch.
PR: It’s too easy to say that my character is a victim and
Rachel is a bitch. I don’t think it’s painted in that broad of a
stroke. I know that Neil doesn’t believe in good guys and bad guys. As
do I. It’s much more complex than that. I know for a fact that the way
Evelyn goes about doing this…I know Neil feels much more responsibility
to be a decent person and I don’t know if he agrees with what she does,
but he doesn’t judge her.
BIO: The bottom line is Adam made all these changes for her,
presuming he would get love in exchange and that was false. Isn’t it
PR: You see this conversation we are having now? This back
and forth? That’s exactly what Neil wanted.