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…
RED is now showing in Irish cinemas
Words – Brogen Hayes