New Interview: Nikki Reed Talks 'In Your Eyes' (Mentions Twilight)
If you haven't seen Joss Whedon's new film "In Your Eyes," well, what are you waiting for? It's currently available for digital download.
The film, written and produced by Whedon and directed by Brin Hill, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on Sunday, April 20, and tells the story of Rebecca (Zoe Kazan) and Dylan (Michael Stahl-David) who share an inexplicable connection, which sprouts into a metaphysical romance. But things are extremely complicated since Rebecca is a married woman and Dylan is sort of crushing on local good-time gal, Donna (Nikki Reed).
Stahl-David and Reed sat down with HuffPost Entertainment and discussed the movie's unique premise over some smoothies and green tea at the Rare Bar & Grill in New York.
Congrats on the film. How do you feel about this digital download thing? It's like Joss Whedon pulled a Beyonce on us! Stahl-David: Yeah, I know.
Reed: That's a pretty good parallel!
Stahl-David: Joss Whedon has an enormous fan base, so I was excited for him to try something new. It's an experiment, we don't know if it's going to work, so it's scary. But if anyone could make it work, it's him, and I'm excited to be a part of something that's trying to be different.
Reed: Yeah, I agree. I think that nowadays it's all about trying a new technique and I think that people want instant gratification. And if there's any opportunity for this to be successful, I think that we're trying to capitalize on it now and there's no better person to do something unconventional than Joss Whedon.
How did you guys get involved with the film? Reed: I begged [laughs]. I read the script years before anything was happening and then Zoe [Kazan] was cast as the lead and I'm such a fan. And I remember calling my agent going, "I love the script so much, is there anything else I can do." And they were like, "Well, there's Donna." And I was like, "What do you mean well there's Donna?! Yeah, there's Donna!"
Stahl-David: With me, I got an audition and I was like, "I don't know if I can do this." But I thought, "Let me just bust my ass." And that's what I did. I went in and it felt good. It felt good working with Brin [Hill, the director] and I read the script and I became invested in them and the way they played together and came alive together.
Since you're never really physically with Zoe onscreen, how did you guys shoot the movie? Was she there on set reading to you? Stahl-David: Yeah. We were in the same room, but she would be like under the table, literally, or like hiding in some corner or in a closet.
Reed: I was also there, by the way, under every table just in case they couldn't do it without me.
Stahl-David: For moral support.
Switching to Donna, she's a steak-eating, beer-drinking kind of girl. Is that the kind of person you are Nikki, or no, not at all? Reed: Um, I am pretty much that girl, minus the steaks, but I'll take anything else ... like a pizza. I don't eat meat, but if I am going to drink, I drink beer.
You were kind of like the other woman in this movie, because Dylan was always thinking about Rebecca, even though he had a crush on you. Stahl-David: Right, I mean Donna is, in Dylan's conscious mind, the love interest. That's who he's always had a crush on. And she's out of his league, I think, a little bit. Dylan is struggling with his game. His game was way off.
Reed: Yeah, you're game was way off! But I made a conscious decision going in that it wasn't about games or whatever, but that Donna actually just really liked him. So I kind of just went with it. It was really just about two people that would never be together.
How long was the shoot? Reed: It was five weeks, I think, total. I only worked a week!
Wow, that's quick! Reed: It's independent filmmaking! I don't know what it feels like to shoot for longer than five weeks now.
Except I'm sure for the "Twilight" films, which probably took months. Reed: Right, months and months and months at a time. And then promoting for months and months and months at a time.
How's that been now that the craziness is over? Reed: I still feel like it's a huge part of my life. I think it absolutely is the defining moment in my career, which I appreciate and love and embrace. I'm excited for what the future has in store for me, but I also would do that a million times again. I loved all of it.
And is the cast still close? Do you guys still talk? Reed: Yeah, look at this! This is my last text that just came in as we're sitting here. [Her phone reads "Message From Peter Facinelli"]
Oh my God, too funny! Reed: Yeah, we all have things that we do together. Peter and I do hot yoga together and I'm the godmother of Jackson's [Rathbone] baby. So, we all see each other when we can, but I think it's really nice to know that you can spend six years with a group of people and really form genuine connections. You go off and make movies with people and sometimes you connect, sometimes you don't. But most times it all falls apart no matter what. If you stay in touch, you have to put a lot of effort in.
And you have three films at the Tribeca Film Festival this year! How was it working with the "SNL" cast on “Intramural”? Reed: I read that script and I was so terrified of being a part of anything that involves improv comedy that I was like, "I have to do this." If it doesn't scare me, there's no point in doing it and I felt like I was really challenged. Look, for those guys, [comedy] is like a muscle they exercise. Every take it was like, on, on, on. It was a constant show, and I was totally in over my head. But I love them, I learned from them, I grew from them and thank God my character wasn't supposed to be that funny. I'm the only straight man in the whole thing. It was quite an experience.
How do you compare the three films –- “In Your Eyes,” “Intramural” and “Murder of a Cat”? Reed: They're incomparable. Although, I will say there's one thing that ties them all together -- there's a comedic element in each of these. "Intramural" is obviously a broad comedy, but in the rest there are some funny bits. I mean, “Murder of a Cat" is me and Fran Kranz walking the streets of wherever we were trying to find this murderer of our mutually-owned cat!
And Michael, I hear you have a TV series in the works? Stahl-David: We're waiting to find out, but yeah.
Reed: What show, what?
Stahl-David: I did a half-hour comedy for NBC called "Two to Go."
Reed: Oh my God, I read "Two to Go"!
Stahl-David: Yeah, I'm the guy!
Reed: You're the guy! I could've been the girl! I should have auditioned for it. But you know why? When you test for something, they hold you and you don't get to test for another. So, who's the girl?
Stahl-David: Christine Woods, who was on "Hello Ladies." It was a lot of fun.
What else do you have coming up? Stahl-David: I have a movie called "Take Care" directed by Liz Tuccillo, who was a writer for "Sex and the City." That was at South By Southwest this year. This year was kind of crazy. I was on off-Broadway last fall and then in L.A., then Texas. It's been crazy.
What about you Nikki, would you ever do Broadway or off-Broadway? Reed: Would I? Oh my God, yes!
Your EP, "The Best Part," is great. Reed: Thanks! Yeah, I've been doing a lot of singing and writing music and not because I even think that I'm qualified, I just decided a year and a half ago that I was going to start doing things that made me feel good. And since I was little, I’ve loved to sing. Does it always sound good when it comes out? No. And do I understand song structure and do I know how to write the perfect song? No. But it feels so good to sit and strum the three chords I know how to play on the guitar and try something.
Stahl-David: Would you do a musical, that would be fun?
Reed: I would love it. But I need someone to give me the opportunity. Even if it's Brin giving me Donna, which is someone I've never played before, or Andrew Disney being like, "Sure, you can be in "Intramural,"" or my most rewarding story I have ever had, which is being cast in "Murder of a Cat" because the director [Gillian Greene] was literally like, "I don't care if you guys want another actress who's worth more financially, I want Nikki." Whatever it is, anytime someone gives me an opportunity, no matter how big or small the film, I'm always shocked. So if someone asked, I would audition for a musical, I would be in a musical, I would do anything, yeah.
And would you ever do your own solo album? Reed: I don't know the answer to that right now. I'm not sure.
Have you ever heard her sing? Stahl-David: No, I haven't.
Reed: We [Nikki and her estranged husband Paul McDonald] have another record coming out and I just got all the masters, I'll play them for you in the car.
Stahl-David: That would be great.
All right guys, to wrap this up, due to this metaphysical connection that's the basis of "In Your Eyes," if you could have a connection with anyone, who would it be? Stahl-David: I don't know, probably like the Dalai Lama.
Reed: I just met the Dalai Lama.
Stahl-David: Oh, did you go to the LA forum? How was that?
Reed: It was insane. It was crazy. I'll text you a photo. Anyway, that feels like a question I should put more thought into. If I had to say something off the top of my head, I would say something goofy like, “If only Elvis could call me every five minutes in my brain!” But I've been having this really weird connection. I don't understand much about death. I'm young and I haven't experienced a lot of it but the year 25, I have been doing a lot of writing about my self-exploration, about understanding the beginning and ending of life. And my grandfather just died, and I know grandfathers die, but it was my first moment of realizing that we're all going to die and that there's no stopping that.
So, let me give you a really quick story: My grandfather was the person who encouraged me to write, and I mostly write non-fiction, but he really wanted me to get into creative writing. So one of the things he shared with me was this poem he wrote called "An Ode To The Hummingbird." And I read it at his funeral and, like, three or four months later -- this just happened, this is recent -- I have a big bay window in my bedroom and every morning this hummingbird is staring at me. So I see this every day and I'm starting to get freaked out, and I realize there's a hummingbird nest right outside my window and this was the mama hummingbird [staring at me]. So I've spent every single day watching these eggs hatch and I, like, raised these babies, I watched them go through a storm, and I really felt for the first time that I was having this weird connection to a person who didn't exist anymore. So I suppose that would be an answer to your question.