PARK CITY, Utah — As one might expect, Jess Weixler thought twice before taking on the lead role in “Teeth,” the buzzed-about Mitchell Lichtenstein film that was snapped up by Lionsgate a week ago at the Sundance Film Festival. In the ultimate female revenge fantasy, Weixler plays Dawn, a 16-year-old virgin who discovers she is a living example of the “vagina dentata” myth of, literally, a man-eating woman.
“At first I was like, ‘Am I ready to do that?” says the 25-year-old Juilliard alum, who has worked the soap and prime-time guest-star circuits as well as regional theater troupes since graduating.
But, after discussing the movie with writer-director Lichtenstein, son of artist Roy Lichtenstein, who assured her it was intended as a humorous horror film, she realized the upside of controversy.
“I started thinking of Dawn as a superhero,” she explains. “Why would I ever pass up this opportunity? It’s uncharted territory, and it’s original,” she adds, perched on a plastic chair in an enclosed atrium in the festival’s Marriott Hotel headquarters.
During the premiere, the 1,300-person audience reacted as expected after watching the villainous antagonists, ahem, lose their manhood, albeit in a campy, stylish manner.
“Everybody screamed at the same time, and that was intensely satisfying,” admits the Kentucky-bred blonde. “It’s a cult-y, good-time movie that you want to see with a lot of people around; a bit of a theatrical experience.”
Sundance’s social mix, like that of New York, where she now lives, seems to agree with her. “It’s a diverse crowd, with total newbies like me and the ‘Rocket Science’ kids,” she says, referring to the well-received Picturehouse comedy that stars a crop of new faces. “We’re all just young and a little bit in awe of having been here at all.”
So, for the real question: Have men been treating her differently after seeing the film? “For the most part, people are like, ‘Rock on!'” she claims. But, she adds, “I have had a few people come up to me and say, ‘Are you ever going to have sex again? And I’m like, ‘Shut up. I think I’ve got it taken care of, thank you!”