Rising actress Mamie Gummer talks to the magazine this week about her breakout role in Lajos Koltai's new film Evening, about which New York's critic David Edelstein had less kind things to say than he did about the character portrayed by both Gummer and her real-life mother Meryl Streep. In the film, Gummer stars opposite Claire Danes, Hugh Dancy, Toni Collette, and Vanessa Redgrave as the young, Waspy counterpart to Streep's aged grande dame, who reacquaints with an old friend preparing for death. The New York interview focused on the mother-daughter angle, so not all of Gummer's behind-the-scenes gossip made the cut. Herewith, a collection of the juicier bits.
What kind of work had you done before getting this role?
I was a theater major at Northwestern University and won a role in a play called Mr. Marmalade after I graduated. I did another play in the spring called The Water’s Edge, and then I worked on Stop Loss, a Kimberly Pierce film down in Texas. I'm sorry if I'm not piecing this together properly; last night was our premiere, and I just got back from having the biggest greasy breakfast.
Mind if I ask where you went?
Egg, in Williamsburg. It was great.
Do you live there?
No, I don’t. My boyfriend lives off the Grand stop in East Williamsburg. I really like it over there. I think I might make a move that way. It’s really expensive to live in New York City.
Indeed. Any chance you’ll decamp for Hollywood?
Oh, God. I don’t think so. Never say never, but I like my seasons and I love New York. L.A. is I always feel sort of abducted when I’m there, like I’ve stepped onto another planet where everyone looks the same.
You shot this film in Newport, Rhode Island. Were there any scenes in particular that turned into a logistical nightmare?
I was totally spoiled because being the sort of parlor maid that my character was, all my scenes were indoors. But the rest of the poor kids had to jump into the water for this one scene, the freezing, freezing water. October in Newport is not August.
And what was it like after-hours?
Chowder [laughs]. Lots of chowder. It was like camp! We’d have lots of impromptu dance parties. We really took Newport by storm: The Vanderville, where we were staying, was the new Chateau. Also lots of Scrabble games, which I wouldn’t recommend with a Pulitzer Prize–winning author. You will develop an inferiority complex pretty quick. Michael Cunningham was insane: He utilized two Xs, which are worth I don't know how many points, in a triple word score! It was really something for the books. —Sara Cardace