I knew I could trust Kristen with that. It was so difficult to find the right balance and to structure it. It’s a movie where every single nuance echoes within the whole film in ways that I did not expect. I also didn’t realize the complexity of what I was asking Kristen to do. I think she was possibly more aware of it than I was, because when you’re an actress and you read a scene, you visualize it or embody it in the preparation process. But when you write, you have another perspective, and you don’t discover the practical aspects of it until you’re working and shooting. Kristen has this unique way of inhabiting the screen, of using her body within the shot. She has this extraordinary way of blending into the shots like a dancer, even if it doesn’t look like dancing.
I’m really interested in this dialogue between my movies. It’s important for me to have a notion of how my movies echo one another. I’ve been lucky to write all my films and more or less make movies with the same freedom of a novelist writing his novels. Every single movie I’ve made is like a part of this one movie, which includes the present, the past, the future—mapping the world in its own way. What excites me when I’m making a film is that it covers ground I have not covered before. It’s part of the same energy, but I’ve moved the stage somewhere else.
The movie is so very much about the work, and the toll that it can take, especially if you’re not somebody who can personally relate to what it feels like to give so much of yourself. But she admires it in this actress. There is compassion, but there’s an acknowledgement that she will forever be isolated. She looks up to her, like, “You have genius. There’s something about you that’s just magical and absolutely undeniable and sort of untouchable, and I’m enthralled by it; I want to get as close to it as I can.” But there’s a distance between them that they’re obsessed with, but they can’t close. One is a fan of art and one is the artist. There’s this desperate need to understand one other—that’s the attraction—but at the same time, I think the reason they’re so attracted is they won’t understand each other.