Actress Juno Temple talks about her role in The Brass Teapot, currently available on VOD and debuting in theaters April 5
In times like these, with the economy the way it is, most people would be overjoyed if they found a teapot that magically produces piles of cash. That is exactly what happens in the new indie comedy The Brass Teapot, when a struggling married couple, Alice (Juno Temple) and John (Michael Angarano), come across this seemingly-ordinary household appliance. After a mishap with a curling iron, Alice realizes that the teapot dispenses cold hard cash any time pain is inflicted around it, and just like that, this downtrodden couple have hit the jackpot, or so they think.
Directed by Ramaa Mosley, The Brass Teapot shows us how far some will go to ensure they can keep living the good life, no matter what it does to themselves and those around them. I recently had the chance to speak with Juno Temple (Killer Joe, The Dark Knight Rises) about this dark comedy, currently available on VOD formats and debuting in theaters April 5. Here's what she had to say.
It was very subtle, but I loved The Lord of the Rings references. When I finished watching it, the film almost struck me as a Midwestern, indie, very different version of The Lord of the Rings in its own way. Did you get that vibe at all when you were reading the script?
Juno Temple: Yeah, for sure. That was definitely something we talked about. It's this great, mystical movie that just enchants you. I also liked that darkness.
You can tell right away that both John and Alice are a very loving couple, but they're also really struggling. I was intrigued by that little detail that Alice was voted Most Likely to Succeed. I know we don't see it in the movie, but was there some kind of back story you developed, about who she was before hooking up with John?
Juno Temple: Yeah, we did all of that. That's what I liked about it. I think she really believed that, but she's kind of lazy. Things just didn't go her way, and after the first few times they didn't go her way, she was like, 'Well, f--k this, man. I deserve more.' She's also someone who's very happy to take the easy option, the easy way out. I think, underneath it all, she's an incredibly loving woman, but she's going through a moment of real desperation, and she gets so manipulated by this teapot.
I was really fascinated with how (director) Ramaa Mosley found (screenwriter) Tim (Macy)'s short story, and the evolution into the comic book, short film, and the feature. Is having all of that material kind of an embarrassment of riches for an actor?
Juno Temple: Yeah, for sure. But, also, I wanted to make it my own, but yeah, having that kind of research right at your fingertips, is awesome.
I've been a fan of both your work and Michael (Angarano)'s work for awhile now. You both had great chemistry on screen, and it felt like a very lived-in, authentic relationship. Can you talk a bit about how you developed that rapport?
Juno Temple: Oh yeah, man, he's just such an amazing actor. He's just so in every single moment he's in. He's just lost in it. He's so naturally funny, and it's great having that kind of humor around, because my character goes to such a dark place. He's sort of her hero, you know. Michael was just so great and just so fun to be around. He seems like he's from a different era. He seems like he's from the era of the Al Pacino's and the Paul Newman's. He just takes his craft so seriously, yet has such fun with it and seems to be enjoying it so fully. He's brilliant. I had a great time working with him, a very inspiring time.
You talked about going to some dark places but, really, you go to a lot of places. You seemed to be having a blast just beating the s--t out of him in the opening scenes, and then it gets really dark towards the end. Are those kinds of ups and downs rewarding for you?
Juno Temple: It's challenging, but that's rewarding in and of itself. I want a challenge, always. It was challenging because some days were really, really dark, but that's good because I get to go home at the end of the day, take a bath, and wash it off, you know? I also had great people around me, Michael being one of them, and Ramaa. People who have your back.
This is Ramaa's first feature, after directing a number of shorts, and she obviously knew this story backwards and forwards. Can you talk about what that knowledge of the story and her style really added to the environment on set?
Juno Temple: That was just so great for us, that she did know that story backwards and forwards, upside down, inside out, and everything. She lived and breathed it, and what I loved is I'd get into such a dark place and she made it a little lighter, which is nice because I could have completely gotten lost in a spiral. That's what I enjoy about the movie is it's such an intense story. It's such a moral story and she makes you laugh throughout it, which is really great.
I know this may be a weird thing to ask, but when the teapot is spouting out cash, is that all CGI, or was there any kind of practical element to that?
Juno Temple: Ah, you want me to tell you the tricks of the trade behind that? Only Ramaa is allowed to give that away, if she wants to. No, it spits out real money, dude. We beat the crap out of each other and we all got rich making that movie.
It was cool to see how the teapot moves, when it actually starts working. It's a really cool process.
Juno Temple: Yeah, it was nuts, for sure.
I was going through your filmography, as well as your father's (director Julien Temple), and it seems like you inherited his work ethic. You've done several films each year, both mainstream and indie. For you, is it important to strike that balance between smaller films like this, and bigger projects like The Dark Knight Rises? Or is it just how the cards are dealt?
Juno Temple: No, I think it's key, man. I think it's really important because you learn so much doing both different kinds of movies. I think it's so exciting being a part of both, because they both have such different processes, and people and visions. Some visions are huge, and some are little, but they both end up being huge in the end. It's great, and I also think it's a really important experience because, with an independent film, everything is very, very quick. You have to play your character, and you have to let that character out, and you have minutes, sometimes, to get a final take. With a studio film, you have time to create characters, and, sometimes, you might go away for two months and come back to that character. They're both really important learning processes, being so ready and prepared for one, to go at the drop of a hat, and then, in a studio film, to not lose that character, because you have time with it. You have to keep hold of that character and make sure you understand that character.
I know a lot of people, including myself, are looking forward to Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. You play Sally, the mistress of Ray Liotta's Joey. Can you talk about how that part fits into the overall scheme of the story?
Juno Temple: That's the great thing about the Sin City movies. Each little slot is incredibly meaningful, and each character has their own moment. That was such an exciting thing to be a part of, because each story is almost like it's own little story within itself. Also, to get to work with (director) Robert Rodriguez was bad-ass, man. He's got this whole world he's created down there. He makes it happen so quickly, and there's so much green screen involved. He has this complete vision of everything that's going on. It was mesmerizing working with him. It's so cool, getting to work with these different directors, and seeing these wonderful universes that they create. It's so cool to be a part of all these different things.
Are most of your scenes in that with Ray then?
Great. That's my time. Thank you so much. It was a pleasure.
Juno Temple: Thank you so much for talking to me. Take care, man.