A British-born actor working in American features and television, Imogen Poots had her breakout performance in Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s 28 Weeks Later and a starring role in the eponymous film adaptation of the video game Need for Speed. The 26-year-old Poots has already built up a long list of credits, including roles in That Awkward Moment, Fright Night (with Colin Farrell) and Jimi: All Is by My Side (with Andre 3000). Upcoming projects include She’s Funny That Way and a comedy pilot, Roadies.
Peter Bogdanovich began his career as an actor then film critic before moving to filmmaking in the early 1970s with his most notable project, The Last Picture Show. Bogdanovich became part of the wave of “New Hollywood” directors in the ’70s, releasing films such as What’s Up, Doc? and Paper Moon. He has authored many books and articles about film and co-wrote and directed his latest feature film, She’s Funny That Way.
SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY
Written by Louise Stratten and Peter Bogdanovich and directed by Bogdanovich, the screwball comedy centers on a theater director on Broadway (Owen Wilson) who casts a hooker-turned-actress (Imogen Poots) in his play. The film also stars Jennifer Aniston, Will Forte, Kathryn Hahn and Rhys Ifans.
Cameron Crowe (Say Anything, Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire) wrote and directed Roadies, a one-hour comedy pilot airing on Showtime. The pilot centers on the behind-the-scenes players involved in the making of a successful rock band’s tour.
Given her affinity for 1970s cinema—or anything prior—British actor Imogen Poots is a natural lead for her new film She’s Funny That Way, a Peter Bogdanovich revival of the ’30s and ’40s screwball comedy. Set around the production of a Broadway show, the film stars Owen Wilson as a director who becomes enamored with Poots, a hooker, and casts her in his play opposite both his wife and ex-lover. A complicated farce of crossed love interests that also throws in the playwright (Will Forte) and his therapist (Jennifer Aniston), She’s Funny That Way is a contemporary homage to its genre, playing a strong feminine cast against bumbling masculinity.
It’s not hard to imagine a modern-day Poots holding her own among a crowd of Hollywood’s Golden Age, with all the energy and charm to tame both the director’s bullhorn and her on-screen love interests with a glance and offbeat quip. Many of Poots’ roles, though, are far from old fashioned. Her credits include 28 Weeks Later, the videogame-inspired Need For Speed and an upcoming Cameron Crowe pilot, Roadies. She’s now in league with some fine talent in She’s Funny That Way, produced by filmmakers Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach—both protégés of ’70s heavyweight Bogdanovich—with a cameo by Quentin Tarantino.
HGS: Did you enjoy the shoot?
IP: It was so much fun. It’s a rare thing, in a way, to really like the clothes that you’re wearing. The stylist was awesome and had some really cool ideas. It was very couture, but grunge—kind of like an expensive homeless person. It was really, really fun. We played music and boogied around.
HGS: As we’re both British, I’m curious to ask you what it’s like as a British actor in America. Do people make assumptions about the kind of person you are based on your nationality?
IP: Not really, and it’s such a versatile business anyway. I forget I’m talking to someone who is British or Australian or American because I get used to hearing so many different accents. There’s such a heavy presence of British actors and actresses right now, too. In the same way certain parts of America are fascinated with England and English culture, I am fascinated by the simplest thing. For example, the first time I was in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I thought it was the greatest place ever and everyone else thought I was insane. But it was just the antithesis of anything that I’ve seen in London and you always seek that unknown place.
I guess I romanticize America in the way that you hope it’s going to be everything you’ve heard, and the reality is actually pretty spot-on. Even Los Angeles, there’s a side that’s so business orientated and clinical or sterile, but if you drive out far enough you find that Joan Didion and Joni Mitchell landscape. It’s there if you’re paying attention.
“You’re supposed to know yourself
better than anyone else, but I’m sure if you
met yourself you’d be like, ‘Oh my god, what
are you doing? Just give up!’”
— Imogen Poots
HGS: Why did you choose New York for your base? Have you ever lived in Los Angeles?
IP: When I moved to Los Angeles, it seemed like an obvious thing to do at that point. It was more affordable than New York. I’d just met a bunch of people who I thought were really terrific, and I moved in with a friend. I was very curious about it because you hear great things and bad things about the place, and it makes it very intriguing. You make your own experience in LA. It takes a while to crack the city. People are always shitting on Los Angeles, but it’s a great place. You just have to be kind of resilient or something. You have to dig or dive for the gold. But you need to live your life in a way that will inform your work, and I couldn’t wait to live in New York. I think I’ll just end here in New York.
HGS: A lot of people seem to describe you as eccentric, kooky or quirky. Peter Bogdanovich recently said something similar to that about working with you on your movie She’s Funny That Way. Does it make you self-conscious?
IP: Whatever you are doing, it’s far more palatable and digestible for people to put you in a box. It’s not a bad box to be in. I think it sounds interesting. Although, there are few people who have transcended that immediate labeling. You’re supposed to know yourself better than anyone else, but I’m sure if you met yourself you’d be like, “Oh my god, what are you doing? Just give up!”
HGS: You have a bunch of amazing films coming up. Do you feel like you’re on some kind of stardom precipice? Is it exciting to become more well-known or is it nerve-wracking?
IP: People think the goal is to just do really big movies or something. But as an actor you understand the work you want to do, and if you’re allowed to do that, then that’s great. I feel very creatively satiated. I’m excited by projects I’ve done in the last year more than ever before. If I can keep working with filmmakers like that, I’d be happy as a clam. But it’s the same with any job; if you’re just doing it for a long time—although acting is unusual in its unpredictability—then you just keep doing it, and you don’t really consider the future in a way. As you grow up you realize this is the future right now. I feel very excited. I never feel thoroughly content, but I feel happy to have been a part of some of these projects.