Back in 1998, a little show premiered on a new network called the WB. The stars were teenagers, but not your average Brady clones. These kids were smart, sassy, and snarky. They knew their film history, they had deeper insights than their parents on most issues of the day, and they talked a-mile-a-minute, in full paragraphs.
After six seasons, it was time to say goodbye to Capeside, but its legacy lives on, in the form of a newly-christened leading man on FOX, a megastar's wife, and a revered website that added "snark" to our vocabulary. Oh, and Dawson, too.
Joshua Jackson (Pacey Witter)
Though Jackson's film career initially took off (Urban Legend, Cruel Intentions, The Safety of Objects), it soon floundered after The Creek was no more. Jackson has made a recent comeback with a starring role in the supernatural FOX series Fringe, created by Lost auteur J.J. Abrams. Might he be the next Clooney?
Katie Holmes (Joey Potter)
Holmes's career was cruising along very nicely, thank you very much, with well-regarded roles in The Ice Storm, Go, Pieces of April, and The Gift. And then IT happened. She met—and soon married—Tom Cruise in 2006, launching her into the celebrity A-List and subjecting her life to endless speculation (and intense criticism). Holmes made her debut on Broadway this fall in Arthur Miller's All My Sons, to mostly fine reviews.
Television Without Pity
A far cry from its humble beginnings as a website that recapped The Creek, the site now known as TWOP is a treasured destination for fans who want the inside scoop on all things television. And like Joey, Pacey, Jen and Dawson, they too have branched into film.
James Van Der Beek (Dawson Leery)
And that leaves us with the show's namesake, otherwise known as Dawson Leery, wise-beyond-his-years Spielberg devotee. After JVDB had some early hits with Varsity Blues and Texas Rangers, his luck soon ran out (he was famously cut from Todd Solondz' Storytelling). However, as he's been spotted in several funny guest-starring roles on hit TV shows of late (Ugly Betty, How I Met Your Mother), and his IMDB profile shows three 2009 films in post-production, we are optimistic about a return of The Beek.
for a complete episode guide, and links to buy DVDs!
Opening this week in New York
), director Kelly Reichardt
’s Wendy and Lucy
is the melancholic, vérité story of a girl and her dog, traveling through the northwest in search of a new life in Alaska. In a small town in Oregon, a series of unfortunate mishaps causes them to lose their footing, derailing their plans and bringing into sharp focus both the fragility of their personal existence and the universal precariousness of life on the fringes of American society. It’s a sad story, one that is—given the current economic climate—likely playing out across the country in myriad scenarios. With a barebones script (written by Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond
, from his short story “Train Choir”) that relies heavily on the naturalness of glamour-free actors, Reichardt continues what she started in earlier films, including River of Grass
, and indie favorite Old Joy
A small, quiet film, Wendy and Lucy
has the power of a luminous star: Michelle Williams
, Oscar-nominated for her turn as Heath Ledger’s long-suffering wife in Brokeback Mountain
. Williams first made a name for herself as new-girl-with-a-damaged-soul Jen Lindley on Dawson's Creek
[see sidebar], and has—in the decade since—carved out a niche as a fine actress in smart, independent films (Dick
, The Station Agent
, I'm Not There
, Synecdoche, New York
, to name a few). Her relationship with Ledger continued off screen, and the two had a daughter, Matilda Rose, in 2005. Since Ledger's untimely death early this year, Williams has remained intensely private.
As I sit down to interview Reichardt, her dog Lucy
(canine co-star of Wendy and Lucy
, and featured performer in Old Joy
) has just finished a gnawable dog treat, and is tuckered out. Such is the life of a superstar diva. Reichardt cajoles her to curl up next to me on a blanket on the couch in the Oscilloscope offices. (Oscilloscope Pictures
is the film distribution company owned by Adam Yauch
of the Beastie Boys
. Wendy and Lucy
is their first narrative film.)
Tribeca Film: How much were your actors—particularly Michelle—involved in creating the characters we see on screen? Kelly Reichardt:
We have so little time. [Wendy and Lucy
was shot in 18 days.] With Old Joy
, people were asking, “Was it improvised?” Are you kidding?! We didn’t have time to improvise!
With Wendy, what I knew was that she was emotionally buttoned-down. She does not have a bird’s-eye view on her life. And she’s the kind of person who would look at everything that’s in front of her and say, “What’s the next thing on the to-do list?” Everything is a list. Don’t look far ahead. [As for] finding her voice, we don’t have rehearsal time, so [Michelle and I] are finding her voice as we are going along, and we are in constant conversation about it.
Tribeca Film: So much of it wasn’t voice at all—it was all in Michelle's expressions.KR:
Yeah, there’s not a lot of dialogue. Michelle has so much room for other stuff. No one tells her, like, walk away and put the pillow on your head. Or stop and tie your shoe in the middle of this conversation. [In the film,] I give her as much space as I can. She has the freedom to fall out of frame. She has lot of room to make decisions about who the character is, all the time, and I think that’s what drew her to the role. She is a physical actress, which I didn’t even really realize before we started working together. She has great body language.
Tribeca Film: So her instincts were right on for you?KR:
Yeah, and she really listens to what you want. When I first talked to her about the part, she described herself as a "fine-tuned instrument." [When we started filming,] she had been going from one film to another, and she had been acting for a long time. So when I was filming her, I was like, "Oh, this
is what she meant." You can make the smallest adjustment—sometimes you are afraid to give an actor a note because you are afraid they will go too far in the other direction—but she can really dial into what you are trying to get at, and make really nuanced changes.
Tribeca Film: Her face was so expressive and economical—KR:
It all comes down to the fact that she can be completely still—and she’s like that in person—and something always comes through.
Tribeca Film: When did you first become aware of Michelle? KR:
I’m so in the zeitgest [she says sarcastically]… I wish I could say I was ahead of the curve, but like everyone else, I went to see Brokeback Mountain
, and I was like, Who the fuck is she
? She was amazing. And I went to lunch with Todd Haynes
(who Reichardt had worked with on Poison
), and he was like, “I want her for I’m Not There
.” Everyone wants her now. Somehow we both got her—that was pretty lucky. Then you go back and watch everything she’s done, and you realize, wow, there are no false moments with her. Even in Dawson’s Creek
, I recognized that she was good.
Tribeca Film: How is Adam Yauch to work with? How has your experience been with Oscilloscope Pictures?KR:
I can bring my dog, she can sleep on the couch, what more do you want? No, David Fenkel
[Yauch’s partner] is the hardest-working man in show business. And it’s great working with Adam, because he knows what it’s like to want to be protective of everything as artists. So, you know, they offer their two cents and leave you a huge amount of room to say no to whatever they offer… It’s a real bonus to have someone in the mix who would be on your side of a conversation in another area.
Tribeca Film: I hear ticket sales are brisk for the run at Film Forum.KR:
I really cared about the theatrical run. Mike Maggiore at Film Forum was one of the first people to see the movie. Old Joy
had a really good life there. So I was interested in that happening again.
Tribeca Film: Don't you also teach at Bard College [upstate in the Hudson Valley, about two hours from NYC]? KR:
I’m on a three-year visiting assistant professorship. Lucy and I spend one night a week up there. The Film/Electronic Arts
division is so amazing—I’ve been wanting to get into that school for a long time, to teach there. With the DVD [of Wendy and Lucy
]—this is so cool—there is going to be a collection of some of my colleagues’ work! Like Peter Hutton
, and Peggy Ahwesh
, Les LeVeque
, and Jackie Goss
, all the people I teach with. I think they are amazing filmmakers, which is why I wanted to teach up there. It’s all avant-garde. And Ed Halter
teaches theory class, so he’s going to do the liner notes. So it’s really sweet. I’m really excited about it. It’s a big lovefest up there at Bard! It’s ridiculous!
Tribeca Film: So how did you cast Lucy? She’s a superstar, without the attitude!KR:
Yeah, she auditioned. It was a tough call. Actually, I’ve been getting a bunch of emails saying, “I’ve never seen your movies, but here’s a picture of my dog.” And I’m like, “Oh, no, that can’t start to happen.”
See Wendy and Lucy
at the Film Forum
Watch trailers and clips
If you don’t live in NY or LA, the film is also opening in theaters across the country
through March 2009.
Enter to win tickets
to see Wendy and Lucy at the Film Forum this Thursday, December 11. The 8:00 pm screening will be followed by a Q & A with Kelly Reichardt and writer Jonathan Raymond.