Carrie Coon is having quite a year. She’s just been nominated for an Emmy for her lead performance in Fargo, her critically acclaimed performance in The Leftovers still has people talking – oh, and she’s currently filming roles for both a Steve McQueen film and a Steven Spielberg film. Yes, this is A Good Year.
Carrie Coon’s IMDb page is fairly impressive. Her list of films is short (that’s changing), but it begins with David Fincher’s Gone Girl. (To be honest, I just assumed there would be a couple of bit parts in scattered other films because most actors have this kind of stuff on her resumé. She jokes that she’s “a snob,” but she really does only pick top of the line films.)
Which is why it’s weird that Strange Weather is only her second film. In Katherine Dieckmann’s Strange Weather — out in limited release on Friday, July 28th — Coon plays Byrd – a woman who accompanies Holly Hunter’s Darcy on a Southern road trip to confront a man whom Darcy holds responsible for her son’s suicide. (The film has dark themes, but it’s a little lighter than that description would imply.)
Honestly, Carrie Coon is a delight to interview. She’s extremely quick-witted and any topic can lead pretty much anywhere – like when she asks me to walk my pet turtle near Kate McKinnon’s neighborhood with the hopes of getting her attention, then mentions that Coon would like to do a movie with her.
I enjoy your Twitter.
Hey, Twitter. I know, I’m kind of a newbie to the Twitter.
You’re good at it.
I do my best. I’m really bad at the Instagram. I never post on it. I get in trouble all the time from my PR firms. They’re like, “Post things that you care about, Carrie. You can post about books you’re reading.” You have a 19-year-old turtle.
They live a long time. I wasn’t aware of that when I bought him…
Yeah, hundreds of years, some of them. You weren’t? Turtles notoriously live a long time.
I was just out of college and I really didn’t think it through, let’s put it that way.
No, of course not. Do you also have a tattoo?
I don’t, so the turtle was the tattoo of my life.
The turtle was your tattoo. Well, that seems like a better choice. You’re actually caring for another living thing. Anyway, I digress.
I was looking through your filmography, and I knew Gone Girl was your first big movie. And I knew you came from a stage background and obviously television…
You thought I would have made something before that?
I thought there would be like a small part in something like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, or whatever…
Most actors have those. Nope, let’s start with Gone Girl.
Yeah, I had no idea what I was doing, Mike.
And now Strange Weather is second. It’s insane the amount of quality stuff you’re doing…
I know! I’m so proud of my IMDb page.
You have a great IMDb page.
I know, I’m like, Steve McQueen and Steven Spielberg! I’m such a snob. I am, though. I’m a total snob, I confess.
But that’s a good thing. You should be.
And you’ve gotten to that place where you can be quickly.
Right? I’ve earned it. Thank you. [Laughs.] Look, my husband [Tracy Letts] has a Pulitzer Prize in playwriting. We don’t mess around with bad writing. He would not let me do crap. He doesn’t allow it.
Well that’s nice…
It’s sweet, right?
But it can fun to do crap every now and then, right?
I was an English major, Mike.
Well, maybe not…
I mean, don’t get me wrong. If I had a chance to do like an action hero – like I read a script recently where it’s just straight action the whole time. And there are some contrivances in this plot to make sure the action continues. But how fun would that be? I’m totally not beyond having a good time. Or like doing like a stupid comedy with a bunch of people that I like. Like if I could do a movie with Kate McKinnon, I would jump! And it would probably be good and smart, because I think she’s a good smart performer.
If you did a movie with Kate McKinnon, I think the internet would be very excited. I think that would go over well.
I mean, we could play sisters. Mike, I’m funny! I am a funny person.
This would be great. She lives near me….
She does? Can you ask her about it? Take your turtle for a walk and try to attract her attention…
I can try this.
She said she liked me once in a magazine, Mike. She said she liked me.
I’ll do my best.
If this happens, then I owe you. What would you like me to send you as a gift?
At some point on a red carpet, go, “You know, this all started in an interview…,” and mention me.
Okay, got it. Done. I made a tape in my living room to get Gone Girl, in Chicago, and the guy who made the tape with me, I bought him a longboard – because that’s what he wanted, because I got the job. And he broke his ankle the first time he rode it, so be careful what you wish for. Just saying.
Well, I don’t see how a quote can break my ankle.
You never know. You never know what’s going to happen in this day and age.
The Twitter mob might come for you.
Oh, that’s true. With the still-untitled Kate McKinnon project, actually maybe only give me credit if it turns out to be good.
Yeah, see what if I sank your career because I was like, “Do you know why I got into this mess? Mike.” And then everyone’s like, “Yeah, that guy sucks.” This could really backfire on you, so be careful.
This could be my broken ankle.
And I’m a Midwesterner, so I expect people to do the things they say they’re going to do.
We agree, I’m also a Midwesterner.
A-ha, see? Where are you from originally?
Oh, you’re from Missouri. We shot in Cape Girardeau.
Right, for Gone Girl…
Good old Missouri. Good folks. I spent six weeks there.
That area of Missouri is basically the South.
We actually spent every night in this great restaurant called Celebration, and everybody in Cape Girardeau would just go there for graduation or anniversary, and we were there every night. We love that place. They were so good to us. We had the best time. Because it was either that or, you know, eat at the Outback Steakhouse again.
Are you ready for a segue?
Yes, do it.
Strange Weather is also set in the South.
You’re right! And I got to spend some time in Jackson, which was really interesting. Well done. Well played.
I love Jackson. It’s a deeply complicated place, that Delta down there. We went to the Delta, and there’s a lot of history. There’s a lot of water under that bridge, and it was a really haunted place, but I really loved being there. It was early fall, we had beautiful weather.
Oh, that sounds really nice.
We were pretending it was hot. Oh, it was gorgeous. It was just gorgeous. And the people I met down there – not just the crew, but also the members of the community in Jackson – I found them to be really incredible, incredibly welcoming in surprising ways. Over and over again. So it was a really interesting place to shoot. I had never spent much time down there. My husband’s from Oklahoma, but I hadn’t really been further south than that, than Cape Girardeau or Tulsa. So it was really interesting, and of course then you combine that with working with the great Holly Hunter. That was the reason that I took that job.
I love road trip movies and this is a road trip movie.
I think I actually like road trips as well, which is part of it, you know? There’s something about the special circumstances.
In the Midwest, every big city is at least three hours away from each other.
Yeah, we’re drivers. Everybody has their food they take with them or pick up, and the music. And it’s really a good time for road trips now because we’ve things like podcasts and audiobooks, which totally revitalized the road trip vibe.
The bad news is I live in New York. I don’t even have a car anymore.
Oh, see? I mean, I live in Chicago, presumably, but I’m never there – so I never have a car either because I’m always on location somewhere. So, I get it. I know what you mean. When we finally get in one, it’s really liberating, isn’t it?
It is very liberating.
But can I just say, watching tiny Holly Hunter drive the shit out of that big truck was one of the thrills of my life.
I enjoyed that.
She does not mess around. That thing was real – like we really had a screwdriver in it to get it to go, and it’s huge. It’s a huge truck. And oh my gosh, watching Holly drive that truck! And she drove like a maniac, and she didn’t care. I was scared for my life. And I’m a pretty reckless driver, so it was very impressive to watch Holly whip around in that thing and back it up and stuff. I learned a lot.
You are in a lot of movies coming up, is it because you have more time now because your television shows are over?
Yes. Also, it’s just, there is also this question of what is available to you. As an up-and-coming person, as a television person, I still have to fight for all the jobs I get in films. I’m not getting a lot of straight offers for film, right? Also, there’s the question of material. For me, the roles I’ve been offered in television are generally much more interesting than the film roles that I’m offered, in general. Or, there’s a really great film script that comes along with a really interesting part and it never gets made because it’s about a woman.
Is that aspect getting better?
Yes, it’s getting better, but film is still well behind television in this regard. So I may read a great script with a female lead and it may take two years to get financing, and then it may never get distributed. I mean, look at the gap in the production of Strange Weather and its distribution, as an example. With Holly Hunter, Academy Award-winning actress Holly Hunter!
It was at the Toronto Film Festival and that’s almost a year ago now.
Right, exactly. So it’s interesting, it’s like we’ve figured out how to make movies on a budget but we still haven’t figured out the right distribution model. Now with all these streaming options, I just feel like film is trying to figure out where it fits in this new zeitgeist. And TV, meanwhile, is filling the gap where that mid-level of film used to exist. It doesn’t exist anymore. We have super-indie films, tiny indie films, and we have giant franchises, and we don’t really have much in between. And TV is that. And because of all of the streaming services and the volume of TV, they’re taking more risks. So people of color and women are getting more interesting jobs on TV.
And now Netflix and the Amazons of the world are investing more in movies…
Yeah, everybody’s getting in on it. And then there are little companies, like A24, that now are getting into making their own movies. They’re amazing. That’s the first time where I started to go, if this production company is attached to this movie, I’m going to see it – which, I’ve never thought that way before, right? It’s changing the way we think about how we select what we’re going to watch. So I’ll go see any A24 movie just on principle.
I fully support this idea. Not that it matters what I think…
[Laughs.] It matters to me, Mike. And Twitter.
With The Leftovers, there’s a trend that television series have this great first season, then people don’t like the second season…
Right, and it’s downhill from there.
But with The Leftovers, the first season did well, but everyone liked season two more than season one. And then everyone liked season three more than season two.
I thought that was remarkable.
It’s really unusual, isn’t it? I’m so proud of the way the show kept reinventing itself, the way that Damon [Lindelof] and Tom [Perrotta] and our writers would go back to that room – because it’s a different challenge than having a limited series. In Fargo, which I love doing and it was a show that I loved before I got onto it, they get to start over every season. They get to start over in a new time period with a new cast. And Leftovers had to sort of create space for that reinvention within the constraints of the show, and I thought they just did that remarkably well. And I thought the storytelling by season three was so bold and so unusual, and yet still cohesive and part of this world that we had made. And I’m really proud of it, and I’m so proud that it continues to be part of this conversation. People are talking about it this year and still talking about the ending weeks after it ended, and still desperate to know what I think – whether or not Nora was telling the truth, which I’ll never tell anyone.
I’m convinced she’s telling the truth.
That’s interesting. And that says something about you. And there are other people who would be like, “You’re insane. It’s so obvious that it’s not real.”
I take her at her word.
Right? Which is so interesting. Well, see, again, that tells me something about you, and that’s what’s interesting about the show. It’s not about what I think, it’s about what it says about the people who are watching it and who love it. And I luckily get to encounter those people now on occasion, and they tell me why the show connected with them profoundly at the particular time in their life when they discovered it. And it’s really gratifying as an artist to be on a show that resists triteness. I love doing interviews about it, because the questions are so interesting, you know? And I feel so lucky.
You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.