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INTERVIEW: Zoe Lister-Jones Wins on Lola Versus

The Broadway and television star discusses the casting and creation of her new film.

By New York City
Zoe Lister-Jones
(© Dave Alloca/Startrax)
Zoe Lister-Jones
(© Dave Alloca/Startrax)
Zoe Lister-Jones belongs to a very special group of well-educated and talented young women who work in a variety of mediums. Her career took off in earnest after graduation from NYU's The Tisch School, with her one-woman show, Codependence is a Four Letter Word, back in 2004. She later created the role of Ellen in Douglas Carter Beane's The Little Dog Laughed at the Second Stage Theater, and recently finished a five-week stint on Broadway in Theresa Rebeck's Seminar, shortly after finishing her first season on NBC's Whitney.

If that wasn't enough for one career, in 2010, she and her long-time partner, Daryl Wein, co-wrote, directed, and starred in the film, Breaking Upwards, loosely based on a year-long break-up in their own eight year relationship.

Now, the pair have created their new film, Lola Versus, opening on Friday, June 8, about 29-year-old Lola (Greta Gerwig), who is left at the altar by her fiance, Luke (Joel Kinnaman). Aided by her two closest friends, Alice (Lister-Jones) and Henry (Hamish Linklater), she begins a series of romantic blunders on her road to self awareness. TheaterMania had a chance to sit down with the busy Lister-Jones to discuss the film.

THEATERMANIA: You have a knack for attracting talent. For example, in Breaking Upwards, which you and Daryl made for an incredible $15,000, your cast included actors like Julie White, LaChanze, Andrea Martin, and Pablo Schreiber. How do you find these people?
ZOE LISTER-JONES: All of them were people that we either knew or had worked with, and who knew that we had no money. On Lola, we had a few other names attached at one point [such as Anne Hathaway and James Franco], but we really wanted actors closer to the "scene," and Greta and Hamish are so perfect.

TM: Did you know Hamish Linklater before you cast him in the movie?
ZL: We didn't know Hamish at all. I'm embarrassed to admit that I never saw him on The New Adventures of Old Christine, so we had a sort of a "who is that?" moment when Daryl and I saw him in Twelfth Night in Central Park. And then when we saw him again in The Merchant of Venice in the Park, I remember thinking, "That's a star!" It was after that, that we asked him to be in Lola.

TM: Is there any improvisation in the film?
ZL: Well, here's why I love working with stage actors like Hamish. For him, the script is holy. So there really wasn't any improvisation in Lola. Daryl and I worked very hard on the script, so I think by the time we got to filming, it was all there.

TM: And when you're wearing your acting hat, do you honor someone else's script in the same way?
ZL: Touche! I'm pretty good about making the author's words my own, unless I feel there's a character discrepancy. But I'm very rarely the squeaky wheel. I just make it work.


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