In 2014 actress Jenny Slate and director Gillian Robespierre sealed their indie darling status with the Sundance Film Festival hit “Obvious Child.” This year, they’re back with another critically acclaimed film, the dark comedy “Landline.” Set in Nineties New York City, before the dawn of cell phones, the film explores the complicated relationship between two sisters (played by Slate and newcomer Abby Quinn). After the film’s much-praised premiere on Friday night, Slate, 34, took a moment to chat with WWD about playing an “uptight” Manhattanite.
WWD: What was it like seeing the film for the first time?
Jenny Slate: It’s extremely emotional. I cried a lot. It’s weird. I don’t seem to recognize myself when I watch myself. I just watch [the film] like a story.
WWD: How does it feel to be back at Sundance and reteaming with Gillian?
J.S.: It feels wonderful to be accepted back into the community and doing something that is a challenge for us. It’s exceptional.
WWD: How did this role stretch you as an actor?
J.S.: I’m used to, in sort of a comedic sense, playing people who are wild and who are very confident or who know that they’re funny and own it in one way or another, but Dana is not a very funny person. The movie is funny and she can appear as funny, but it made me really want to make sure that she seemed like a very real person in the way that your sister is and your friends are funny too because you know them and love them. It’s a deeper, more specific task and you’ve got to honor it.
WWD: As a Massachusetts native, did you enjoy about playing a New Yorker?
J.S.: I’ve played New Yorkers a few times over. The only thing that I think about the character Dana is that she’s pretty uptight and she’s very clean and tidy. Manhattan, especially in the Nineties, is a really disorderly place. The one thing I tried to keep an eye on was the fact that she’s a native Manhattan gal and she would be used to it.