On Aug. 24, IFC Films hosted a special screening of “Queen of Earth,” at MoMA. It hits theaters this Friday. The Alex Ross Perry directed project stars Elisabeth Moss and Katherine Waterston. It was produced by Joe Swanberg and Elisabeth Moss. The screening was followed by an insightful Q&A. Catherine (Elisabeth Moss) has entered a particularly dark period in her life after her father (a famous artist whose affairs she managed) recently dies. On the heels of his death, she’s dumped by her boyfriend James (played by Kentucker Audley). Looking to recuperate, Catherine heads out to her best friend Virginia’s (Katherine Waterston) lake house for some much needed relaxation. However, once Catherine arrives relaxation proves impossible to find, as she is overcome with memories of time spent at the same house with James the year before.
As Catherine reaches out to Virginia with attempts at connection, Virginia begins spending increasing amounts of time with a local love interest, Rich (Patrick Fugit), and fissures in the relationship between the two women begin to appear, sending Catherine into a downward spiral of delusion and madness. “Queen of Earth” is a thrilling examination of a deeply complex relationship between two miserable women. Both Perry and Moss attended a screening of the film tonight at the Museum of the Moving Image. MOMI also screened Perry’s previous works “Impolex,” “The Color Wheel,” and “Listen Up Philip.” The film was an official selection at the Berlin Film Festival was the centerpiece for BAMcinemaFest this year! Read our exclusive red carpet interviews below with Alex and Elisabeth:
E: What inspired the story?
Alex Ross Perry: After my last movie came out I just found myself in this cycle of really wanting to just kind of have a little bit of privacy. It had been a really long time since I had any and it just became really important to me. I had a lot of questions about why I felt so excited about this privacy and I just wanted to make a movie that played with these questions I had about why I deserved to be left alone and made it about women instead of a guy that looks like me.
E: How was working with Elisabeth Moss again?
ARP: It was great! We made two movies together now. This time was a bit easier than the first because we didn’t have to feel it out or understand how to work together.
E: How was casting?
ARP: It was very smooth. Having her involved upfront made the casting of the rest of the movie very easy because a lot of people were just excited to work with her, I sent them the link to the other movie that we made and they liked the movie, so they knew what kind of film they would be in. So it made perfect sense to them to be involved.
E: Were there any challenges directing?
ARP: No, not really. I mean, I worked with my entire crew many times, cinematographer, it’s our fourth film together, Elisabeth, our second film, it’s just kind of surrounding myself with my friends, so the learning curve is kind of cumulative, they don’t all learn individual, just surrounded by all these people who I like working with and trust.
E: What was your favorite part about filming?
ARP: Being able to get all these people that I like to just come and have these friends of mine make a movie together, it’s all my favorite part. Favorite part is the first day when you actually realize it’s going to happen.
E: So what attracted you to the project?
Elisabeth Moss: Well, I wanted to work with Alex again, that was a big thing. So I knew I wanted that to happen and then it was the script which was so good, and unusual, and provided a great, very complex, very interesting character that I felt like I hadn’t played before.
E: How was working with Alex again?
EM: It was awesome because we basically found some really good stuff on Listen Up Phillip but being sort of the secondary character in that film we didn’t get to do as much of it and by the end of the experience, we were like damn, I wish we had more time to do that. So this was perfect because we got to do what we found on listen up Phillip but do it in every scene everyday. It was kind of what we wanted.
E: Can you tell me a little bit about your character?
EM: I basically play a girl who at the very beginning of the movie gets like a three or four minute long close up shot on her being broken up with by her boyfriend. She’s crying and she looks like shit and she’s in the most vulnerable place you can be and then it goes downhill from there.
E: What was your favorite part about playing your character?
EM: I suppose having no limits, having no rules, being able to try anything and do anything and there were no wrong moves. I could say or do anything I wanted and if we didn’t like it we could just do it again. It felt extremely free and extremely collaborative. So for me, that’s where you want to be, as an actor.
E: Did you have a favorite scene or favorite part in filming?
EM: There’s a scene a little bit towards the end where I give this two-page monologue to Patrick Fugit and it’s very brutal and it’s very in your face and it’s very no holds barred. It was very fun to do.