Interview with Liane Balaban from "Finding Joy"
Liane Balaban is a beautiful young actress who has been on TV shows with roles on “Supernatural" where she played Amelia Richardson, “NCIS: Los Angeles”, “Numb3rs”, and many more. Liane was kind enough to sit down with Movie Room Reviews and tell us all about her new film “Finding Joy”.
Nick Leyland from Movie Room Reviews: Liane, how are you doing?
Liane Balaban: Good, how are you?
MRR: Good. Nice to talk to you.
Liane: Nice to talk to you, too.
MRR: Where are you at today?
Liane: I'm actually in Victoria, BC.
MRR: Oh, no way.
MRR: Because you were born there. You were born in Ontario, right?
Liane: Yes, exactly.
MRR: How do you like Canada this time of year?
Liane: I love it.
MRR: Do you?
Liane: Summer is the best.
MRR: I've watched your movie twice, now, your "Finding Joy" movie.
Liane: Oh, really? Wow.
MRR: I watched it a few weeks ago and then, I watched it again yesterday. It's a great film. Your character is...She's hilarious. She's so quirky, it's so unpredictable.
Liane: I'm so glad you enjoyed it.
MRR: [laughs] Nice.
Liane: That's great. That's really great.
MRR: You've done shows like "Supernatural" and "Alphas" and "NCIS," and many more, plus movies like "Last Chance Harvey." But let's talk about this new movie, “Finding Joy”. You play Joy. I talked to Josh (Josh Cooke) a few minutes ago, but can you give me your take on the film and your character of Joy?
Liane: My take on the film? It's a comedy about a dysfunctional family and an awkward romance. Joy represents thinking outside of the box. I think she encounters a character who is really stuck in an unhealthy pattern. She helps him break the mold. That's what love is, really, isn't it? It expands your horizons and makes you see the world in a different way and make you feel joy and hope.
MRR: How did you enjoy playing the wild card in the film? Being so unpredictable, it's probably pretty fun to play, right?
Liane: That was the most fun, for sure. The way I approached the character was to make sure that I had fun every day and didn't worry or sweat it too much and was present and open and spontaneous the way that Joy is, because that's the character. She's someone who tries to make the most out of every moment, as you know. That was my approach, was to really play, just play and have fun.
MRR: Do people like that, like Joy, do they inspire you and make you feel like you don't live enough? Or do they scare you with how impulsive they are?
Liane: That's a really good question. I always look to role models in history for inspiration, personally. One, for example, is Edna -- even though I never even thought about this until you asked me, so it's a great question -- but Edna St. Vincent Millay, the Pulitzer-winning poet. She was active in the '20s and '30s and I read her biography a few years ago, called "Savage Beauty." It's incredible. She was completely impulsive in certain ways. She made her living as a poet. She decided to become a professional poet. Talk about a crazy thing to do with your life. But she created incredible, incredible works. She was a trailblazer. She is the ultimate example of breaking the mold. Especially at that time when women were so repressed in certain ways, she was really, really a breath of fresh air and an inspiration to generations of writers and artists after her.
I think those people are necessary. They do a lot of important work for the artist to come. Patti Smith is another example, with her book. Have you read "Just Kids"?
MRR: No, I have not.
Liane: It's incredible. She's a girl from New Jersey who worked in a bookstore who had this inkling that she could be a rock star.
Liane: Yeah. She went to see Jim Morrison play live and she had this feeling...She couldn't explain it, but she could do that, that she could be that, if she followed it. How many people have the courage to follow that little voice?
MRR: Not many.
Liane: I think those kinds of people are extremely important. Because they show you that it's possible to have a life full of joy. Not that it will be devoid of struggle or hardship, but that you can follow your joy, or you can follow your bliss, as Joseph Campbell would say.
MRR: Where do you think Joy gets that inspiration to be such a good person and such a free spirit?
Liane: This is a secret. But it was in the plot of the film itself that she thinks the clock is ticking. I think she thinks that it's to her final weeks to live, so she must make the most of it. Internally, within the story, I think that's where the inspiration comes from. But I think she didn't really have traditional parenting. It doesn't explain her back story in the film, but her parents died when she was young, so she was probably raised by an older relative. I think she didn't have a lot of authority growing, or she didn't have a strict upbringing. She was able to make her own rules.
MRR: One thing that I liked about her and I wondered if you had fun with this is if you had fun doing the wardrobe for the film, because I thought she wore some really cool stuff.
Liane: Thanks for noticing! Nicole Tafur Leder was the costume designer, and she did an incredible job. She really elevated the character in a way that I didn't expect. All of the jewelry choices and stuff just added so much to the character and to my interpretation of the character. There were things that I hadn't expected, like details that I hadn't expected. She really got this idea that Joy reinvents herself everyday with her outfit.
MRR: [laughs] It's true, too. I feel.
Liane: It's totally true. Every outfit's like a new uniform. Like she goes through cushy to punk-rock, prairie-girl to...What else does she wear? But yes, that was so fun. That was so fun, and I got to keep some of the wardrobes, which was fantastic. I still wear a lot of my wardrobe. There's a purple skirt that I wore in that movie, I think I'm wearing it in the scene when the car is covered in Post-It notes. I've worn that purple skirt pretty much, like, three times a week since we finished filming.
MRR: [laughs] The scenes in the film, there were so many good scenes. My favorite with your character is the scene with the clown. What scene do you think is your favorite, with your character?
Liane: That's a great question. I really like the scene in the car where I slap Kyle in the face. [laughter]
MRR: How many times did you have to do that?
Liane: I don't know. Maybe we did it five or six? That scene really, I saw...They cut the trailers together early-on and when we were still filming, with that scene, and it really made me laugh. I really, really enjoyed it. It's the perfect example of Joy's spontaneity and lack of filter, lack of boundaries.
MRR: Joy is a really important character, obviously, in this film. If you were to pick one other of the characters to be your favorite besides Joy, which character did you like the most?
Liane: I thought Josh did a wonderful job as Kyle. Really funny, but also moving. There was real depth to his characterization. Then I think a surprise for me was Tyler, playing the brother. So sensitive and wounded, so vulnerable. There was so much vulnerability in his performance, which is not something that was necessarily there on the page. But he really brought so much vulnerability. That was so compelling to watch.
MRR: I was talking to Josh about this. Every character had this bizarre twist to them.
Liane: Oh yeah, that's for sure.
MRR: But it meshed nicely, because there are so many families that all have bizarre twists to them.
Liane: Yeah, completely. I think the producer of the film, his mom ran a strip club or something or she had something in Florida. It was based on real people, loosely, who had just added these quirky parts of their life.
MRR: I think the film is great and there are so many great characters. My last question is, what can we look forward to seeing from you in the future? Do you still play in your punk band? Is there any music coming out, or...?
Liane: [laughs] No, my band's not...No, they've been broken up for a while. I'm in a film called "The Grand Seduction," which will come out probably later this year or next year, with Taylor Kitsch and Brendan Gleeson, and directed by Don McKellar. It's a comedy. I'm really looking forward to it. I think it's going to be good.
MRR: Thank you so much. Our audience will have to check out Finding Joy, which is out on VOD and in the theaters. Thank you so much for talking with us and you have a good day.
Liane: You, too, Nick! Thank you so much. Enjoy Ohio.
MRR: [laughs] You enjoy Canada.