Un vieil interview

You'll be forgiven if you haven't exactly seen this 21-year-old actress lighting up the film world, though not for long. One of Clea DuVall's few exposures to mass audiences was as "The Invisible Girl" on an episode of "Buffy The Vampire Slayer." But on November 6 at 11:45 a.m., you'll be able to catch her in "How To Make the Cruelest Month" at CMJ's FilmFest '98, where the film is making its New York premiere.
DuVall stars as Bell Bryant, a young woman questing to fulfill her New Year's resolutions—to quit smoking and fall in love, not necessarily in that order. Written and directed by Kip Koenig, this comedy features an ensemble cast, led by Dennis Haysbert, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Gabriel Mann, Mary Kay Place and J.D. Souther.

The following interview took place via cellphone, over the ethereal airways between NYC and LA.

IFC: How long have you been acting?

Clea DuVall: For about two and a half years. It's what I always wanted to do. I went to a performing arts high school (in Los Angeles) and performed theatre there. Then in my senior year I took acting classes outside school.

IFC: Anything you've been working on recently

CD: I worked on an independent film called "Wildflowers," directed by Melissa Painter and co-starring Darryl Hannah and Eric Roberts. I also did a movie with Robert Rodriguez, "The Faculty," and had a bit part as a convenience store clerk in "Niagara, Niagara" about a girl (Robin Tunney) with Tourette's Syndrome. And, of course, "Cruelest Month."

IFC: Can you tell us a little bit about that

CD: It's the story of a person determined to complete her New Year's resolutions of quitting smoking and falling in love within the space of a month, and how this pretty much stops her from being the person she really is. I loved playing the character (Bell Bryant). She's so all over the place and so neurotic and so loud. It was really comedic, my first comedic role, and I loved Kip (writer/director Koenig)—he was so amazing. When we met, we just clicked. He's like a male version of me.

IFC: Was this the first time you had a leading role in a movie

CD: Yes. It was a lot fun and a lot of work, but I liked that. By having a bigger role, I was allowed to evolve as an actor and experience so many things within my character.

IFC: Are there advantages for actors who do independent films

CD: Absolutely. With "Cruelest Month," we had complete freedom. It had a real artistic feel. We spent a lot of time in rehearsals and that allowed us to build valuable relationships between cast and crew and director.

IFC: Are there disadvantages to doing indies

CD: I don't think so... You don't have as much money, which isn't frustrating to me, but can be for the filmmaker.

IFC: Do you have a desire to be in a Hollywood blockbuster

CD: It depends on the script. If it is good, sure, why not? If there is quality, then it doesn't really matter what the budget is.

IFC: Do you feel there is more leeway for an actor to be creative in a low budget film

CD: Um, I think it is up to the actor and the director. I was allowed to be just as creative in "Faculty" as I was in "Cruelest Month." But in general, I probably haven't done enough studio work to really know.

IFC: How does one make the cruelest month

CD: (Joking) By trying to make a movie in a bunch of different locations on a really tiny budget…. (Then seriously) I don't know. I don't know at all. I was just in Texas for four months working on the film. Making a film is basically like trying to accomplish those two things my character was trying to accomplish—quitting smoking and falling in love in a month. Quitting smoking, yeah, (it’s possible), but you can't really put a cap on falling in love.

IFC: Anything we should have asked, but didn't

CD: My shoe size is eight-and-a-half. But it varies, depending on the shoe.