She’s best known as Nancy Botwin in hit TV show WEEDS. Mary-Louise Parker turns up opposite Bruce Willis & Helen Mirren in new action movie RED. Brogen Hayes caught up with the actress on her recent trip to Dublin…
What drew you to RED? M-LP: This might sound strange but I just liked this character. I just wanted her to be positive, unsophisticated and not dark. A lot of the characters I play are dark and I’m dark… And I find I am fitting in very well in Ireland [laughs] I saw the relationship like the screwball comedies from the 1930s – Bruce [Willis] articulated it like that, and that’s kind of what I was thinking. It just sounded… Nice. It’s not the kind of movie that I generally do but I felt like I could make her into enough of a character that it would be interesting for me.
RED is based on a graphic novel. Did you read it or did you deliberately avoid it?
M-LP: I probably wouldn’t have read it anyway… [laughs] but I actually didn’t know about it until about halfway through, but I probably wouldn’t have read it. It might have confused the character.
RED is action packed. Did you wish Sarah had more action?
M-LP: I get dropped to the ground and protected by manly types, which I would prefer to holding a gun [laughs]
You said you are quite dark, but do you see any of yourself in Sarah?
M-LP: No. I wanted something light and happy. There is a moment where she gets quite feisty with him [Bruce Willis’s character, Frank] at the beginning, and a little bit sarcastic. So I would say there a little bit. She’s into adventure… I want to sit at home and read poetry, eat candy and take my kids to the park. Adventure… uh no! [laughs]
But you have had quite an adventurous career!
M-LP: Yeah, I get it all out there.
Sarah reads romance novels. What do you read?
M-LP: She knows they’re bad… Even though I ad-libbed that line. I read mostly poetry, actually. I am reading ‘Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself’ – the guy who went on the road trip with David Foster Wallace – but I am almost always reading poetry. I enjoy it more. It’s not very fashionable, not very many people love poetry. I think in this country, people do read! [laughs]
Which poets do you read?
M-LP: I like our Poet Laureate at the moment – W.S. Merwin. I like Charles Simic, Mark Strand and Andrew Zawacki. I actually think Dennis Johnson writes very good poetry. A lot of people say they can’t understand it; they are trying to figure it out. I just think it’s like a song – you read it and let it wash over you. I think poetry is more rhythmic, in a way… There is a line in an Andrew Zawacki poem that I tried to figure out for like, seven years. And I love the poem, and I went back and read it again because I really did want to get something from it. He had this phrase… ‘an imminent leftover love’. It took me a long time to digest that… Maybe I’m not very bright! [laughs]
Sarah is on the run in RED. Who, from the RED cast would you like to have on the run with you?
M-LP: Oh god… I don’t think I could pick! That would be very, very hard to pick! Oh god… It feels like Sophie’s Choice! [laughs] If possible, I would get a bus and take them all. I would have to. I wouldn’t be able to pick. I would feel too guilty!
You write sometimes, are you ever tempted to write for Weeds?
M-LP: Yes, I write for Esquire, but I’m never moved to write drama. I really write better in prose form.
You have done film, TV and theatre, which is your favourite?
M-LP: Theatre, but I have two kids and you can’t put kids through private school with theatre. I actually like television quite a lot and I had a good time on this movie, but theatre is rough. When I was 28 or 36 or something, doing a play was very different than it is now. I have children… My whole day was focussed around going to the theatre. I would always get there super early and everything was about that. I can’t really do that now.
What’s next (apart from Weeds)?
M-LP: I am really just hanging out with my kids and taking them to school. I really didn’t want to work in the Fall, because it is so awesome. The kids are starting school in their little sweaters and Hallowe’en. We have our costumes already…