Kelly Lynch discusses Passion Play

Actress Kelly Lynch discusses her role in Passion Play, working with her husband Mitch Glazer, her "blonde Snooki" look and much more

Actress Kelly Lynch broke onto the scene in the 1980s with a string of roles in successful movies such as Bright Lights, Big City, Cocktail, Road House, and Drugstore Cowboy. In the 1990s she continued to work steadily and married screenwriter Mitch Glazer. This year, the actress played two roles in her husband's new movie Passion Play, as an actress and the woman who inspired the film.

Passion Play stars Mickey Rourke as Nate Poole, a jazz musician who goes on the run from a gangster (Bill Murray) and discovers a traveling circus where he meets a young woman (Megan Fox) who happens to have giant bird wings growing out of her back. Passion Play will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on May 31, and I recently had the chance to speak with Kelly Lynch about her role in this new drama, which she describes as, "a blonde version of Snooki." Here's what she had to say.

I read the script was actually inspired by Mitch falling in love with you. I was curious what you first thought of the script when you read this character has bird wings?

Kelly Lynch: Well, first of all, I assumed he thought of me as Big Bird or something. No, we met 20 years ago. Both of us were sort of cutting a swath through the world in our own way, thinking we were never going to get married. We sort of met our match and, all of the sudden, "saved" each other, moving from your twenties and thirties and forties as a partier, eternal partier, someone who wasn't going to stop and do all the things that are beautiful like have a family and have a life. It's easy to do in this business, because you're moving around and you're meeting a lot of people. We sort of saved each other. Mitch's mother was also, coincidentally, Mickey Rourke's teacher in Miami Beach where they both grew up. Mitch and Mickey had known each other since they were 15. Mitch's mother showed A Place in the Sun, and Mickey decided, at that moment, he wanted to be an actor, which is not a surprise because of the incredible vulnerability that is Mickey, especially if you know him. He has credited Mrs. Glazer throughout the years as that person, who inspired him. In fact, when she died in a car accident, he was the only non-family member that came to be there. They're very, very close. Mitch wrote this movie with Mickey and I in mind, he wanted me to be the angel 20 years ago. At the time, the studio wanted something more like Splash with wings, this weird Fellini-esque thing, although everyone thought it was beautiful. It was a beloved script and beautifully written, but it really wasn't for the time, so it just got put in a box. Before Mickey's big "comeback," he was in bad shape. Mickey brought it out and said, 'Let's try to get this made.' Sadly, it wasn't me as Lily, but he started meeting basically every actress in Hollywood. They all wanted this part, but he fell in love with Megan Fox, whose work he had never seen. He knew her name, but he isn't the one to check out all the evil blogging about her. He met her and found her to be this lovely young woman, 23 years old who's been with the same guy since she was a teenager. She's as charming and lovely and real, but she's kind of like a Comic-Con geek in real life.

Yeah, that's what I've heard.

Kelly Lynch: She's just an adorable person and not at all this evil, tough, can't act, blah blah blah. We all loved her and, in fact, the two Academy Award-nominated actors who worked opposite her just thought she was fantastic. The first day of shooting, Mickey grabbed Mitch and said, 'My god, she is really a throwback.' She truly has movie-star looks and she can do it. She held her own opposite Mickey. This is my second movie with Mickey, and he is not an easy actor to work with. He serves the tennis ball at you at like 180 miles per hour. You want to get out of the way and just watch him, but you have to hit it back. Not everyone can play with him, let's just put it that way.

Did the script change at all throughout these past 20 years, or is it still pretty much the same?

Kelly Lynch: It's pretty much the same, but it changed in that, originally, the story was more Mitch's and my story. The movie was set in the 50s, the late 50s. The character I was going to play was a Hollywood Confidential writer who got into trouble writing things about Happy Shannon's wife and slept with her. There was a vendetta after him. It was really set in the Mad Men period and, at the time, Hollywood was like, 'Who gives a shit about this? It's the 50s.' They were like, 'Can't you just shoot it like she's a wacky, funny bird?' Mitch just put it in the drawer and, Mitch brought this out, really, for Mickey, because he needed work, and Mitch only wanted him. A lot of other actors wanted to do it, but Mitch was very loyal to Mickey. Comeback or not, all of Hollywood finds that Mickey is a fighter, whether it's Sin City or Iron Man 2, he's either beating someone up or he's getting beat up, including The Wrestler. As wonderful as he is in that movie, it's still where Hollywood has put him. He's a big, thug, fighter. Mitch just wanted one more shot at Mickey as the guy we all fell in love with in Diner and The Pope of Greenwich Village, the guy who had a vulnerability and gentleness and maybe even a girl in the picture somewhere. He saved it for Mickey and he met with Megan and absolutely fell in love with her. He just thought she was so ethereal and just so unlike anyone he'd ever seen. They just don't make girls like that any more.

I read you also had some influence on Harriet's look, from the hairstyle and things like that. Can you talk about the kind of look you were going for with your character Harriet?

Kelly Lynch: Yeah. Well, it was before Snooki. Everything can get wrecked by one Jersey Shore dwarf. I was looking at magazines and, because Nate's world is this sort of hipster, vintage world, he and Harriet embody this world. I was like, 'How should she look?' Because, in her mind, she looks like Brigitte Bardot, but in our mind, she just looks like a tough barmaid. She's just a bartender, but Mickey insisted to Mitch that I was the burlesque dancer in this movie, as well as the bartender. I said, 'Look, Mickey, I'm 50.' He said, 'The way you look has gotten in the way of a lot of parts. You might as well exploit that one last time, you might as well get that out there one more time.' So, I worked very hard on this whole pole dance and we filmed all this stuff and it ended up just being in a few beats in the beginning of the movie. I said, 'Mitch, we have to put an extra in the special edition DVD at some point.' I got on set and screamed at the crew saying, 'I'm 51!' They all cheered.

It really seemed that no one else could have directed this besides Mitch. It is the perfect thing to make his directorial debut with. Can you talk about how he has evolved as a writer and how he transitioned into a director?

Kelly Lynch: He has written a lot of things and he has a new thing with this series called Magic City about Miami in 1959. Of course, that was another thing where people were like, 'Who cares about the 50s. Who cares about mobsters.' Then there was The Sopranos and Mad Men, and Boardwalk Empire which changed all that. As far as directing, he has been wanting to direct forever and ever. He has discovered that he loves it. He's really good with actors and he really likes it. He actually came in on a movie I did with Billy Baldwin called Three of Hearts when my director had a nervous breakdown. Mitch had done a few rewrites for us and he directed the best pieces of that movie, which is a very sweet movie. Everybody, including the producers, were sending him scripts, saying, 'You've got to do this.' He's a quiet guy and he likes to write and he doesn't like to be around people. He's the nerdy smart guy. For whatever reason, this Fellini-esque love letter to me was the thing that he really wanted to make. It was kind of like film school times 150,000, because of all the travails of getting this movie made and making this movie with people he loved more than anything. Bill Murray is also one of Mitch's best friends. He wrote Scrooged for him and he rewrote the Charlie's Angels movie that Bill and I were in together, the first one, the good one. He was credited as writer #20, I believe, on that film, and he did a page-one rewrite of it and made it actually work. We had such a great time working on that together. He was also a producer on Lost In Translation for Bill and really forced Bill to do that movie when he was going, 'I don't know...' Mitch said, 'Look, Sofia Coppola sees you as a leading man. Everyone else sees you as the weird gardener from Caddyshack, which is great, but, you know, get the girl. Mitch is always about 'get the girl,' for Mickey as well. It was a tremendous thing for him to be able to do. Often the writer just gives the pages and you're back in your apartment or your hotel room. To be on the set and to be surrounded by people like (director of photography) Christopher Doyle, who is maybe one of the 10 great DP's of all time, and seven of them are dead. One of the three left is Christopher Doyle. He's a maniac, but he's brilliant and the look of the film was so gorgeous. You've got Rhys Ifans doing a couple days work on the movie, and Rory Cochrane, who's great. These are really dear friends and great actors who came in and were really happy to be a part of it.

To wrap up, what would you like to say to anyone curious about the movie about why they should pick up the Blu-ray or DVD this week?

Kelly Lynch: It's beautiful, it's unusual, and you'll see actors that you love doing things that you wouldn't imagine them doing. You have Bill Murray playing a ruthless gangster instead of a funny guy. You have Mickey Rourke playing a leading man, Megan Fox, who is lovely, ethereal and kind, and I get to do my blonde version of Snooki.

(Laughs) Well that's my time. Thanks so much, Kelly.

Kelly Lynch: Thanks so much, Brian. I really loved talking to you.

You can watch Kelly Lynch as Harriet in Passion Play, which will hit the shelves on Blu-ray and DVD on May 31.