It’s time to talk about Parker Posey.
Her acting career has teetered on the edge of the mainstream for more than two decades. There are her roles in zeitgeist-y ’90s indie flicks such as Dazed and Confused and The Doom Generation. Don’t forget her improv work in Christopher Guest mockumentaries such as Best in Show and Waiting For Guffman. Then there’s her recent turn in Woody Allen’s Irrational Man and an unforgettable guest spot on Louie.
For the next few weeks ACMI’s In Praise of Parker Posey season will remind us just how accomplished, hilarious and overlooked she is. But Parker Posey isn’t really interested in being retrospective. She’s got bigger things on her mind.
Broadsheet: Do you ever look back on your career?
Parker Posey: Oh no. Not at all. Not even a film I did last year. I get a little morbid. It’s another life. I don’t like to watch myself. I can’t disconnect from the awareness that life is fleeting. I get into that ontological space.
BS: You’ve said working on indie films for so long is “like being a part of a punk band, but no one’s singing punk rock anymore”. What is it about the indie process that appeals?
PP: Collaboration! I was talking to [actress] Ellen Burstyn and she was telling me all about shooting The King of Marvin Gardens with [director] Bob Rafelson in the early ’70s. They all spent time together for two weeks before they started shooting, and they all stayed in the same hotel. That’s how all filmmakers worked then. They got to know each other. That kind of intimacy and collaboration that used to happen with indie films just does not happen now. How can a movie be good if it’s one big movie star next to another big movie star and no communication? I see this in films all the time. I don’t see a real connection between actors. It’s a big hole in a lot of movies. It’s more a business now than ever.
BS: But then you’ve worked with Woody Allen and Louis CK …
PP: Yes, and that’s a whole different animal. You feel like you’re playing the right game. It’s intense and it moves your whole soul. I feel very lucky to have had that experience. I want to work like that all the time. But it’s very hard. Directors don’t have that experience now. It’s weird. Studios will support a director hot from Sundance, in his twenties, but they won’t give Zoe Cassavetes money to get her next movie made, or Rebecca Miller. They want to discover someone and call him a genius, and incredible filmmakers with more experience can’t get financed.
BS: A few years ago you were talking about quitting acting …
PP: It wasn’t like ‘I’m gonna quit!’ It was that I didn’t know if there was a place for me in the system anymore. It’s so much more co-opted now. People can’t get their movies made without stars attached, and there’s only a small handful of those. I’m still working, but I have other ideas. I’ve worked with a lot of creative people and I could be a producer, bring them together. Especially in new media. There’s such a gap that needs to be filled there. I want to make something that would bridge all these creative people.
A lot is changing in film and television, as you know. There’s room to be funny and poignant and entertaining on the internet. I think there’s something to be made which is very much in the zeitgeist, something that will get people hooked and they’ll devour it.
BS: Like what?
PP: One idea I have is a show called Dogs Playing Poker. It’s dogs playing poker downstairs in the basement. Really it’s a platform for thinkers. People from now, and people from the past who are no longer with us. So there could be a mathematician talking to Winston Churchill talking to –
BS: But hang on, they’re dogs?
PP: … and they’re playing poker at the same time.
BS: So they’re animated?
PP: No, no, no. The dogs are going to be real dogs. But they’ll have puppet paws. There’ll be computers involved. I’d watch that show.
BS: I would watch that show.
PP: I don’t even play poker.
PP: Imagine Sylvia Plath with a deck of cards. It’s going to be big.
In Praise of Parker Posey runs at ACMI from March 13 to 28.