Photo by David Giesbrecht/Netflix via imdb
WEIRDOS directed by Bruce McDonald, written by Daniel MacIvor, with Dylan Authors, Julia Sarah Stone, Rhys Bevan-John and Molly Parker. A Films We Like release. 84 minutes. Opens Friday (March 17). Don't miss our review of Weirdos here.
I first interviewed Molly Parker back in 1997, when her breakout feature Kissed was about to open. Since then, I’ve gotten used to running into her at TIFF and various other events; even if we don’t sit down together, my festival isn’t complete without saying hi to her in a hallway somewhere. And watching her establish a terrific career over those years – in movies like The Center Of The World and Marion Bridge and Trigger and on TV shows like Twitch City and Deadwood and House Of Cards – has been like rooting for a friend.
And so it is, relistening to our phone interview about Weirdos last week – two days before she and MacIvor would win Canadian Screen Awards for their work on the film – that I can hear her knock the wind out of me about 14 minutes in.
“I had thyroid cancer,” she is saying, “and I had to have my thyroid out. I’m fine, and it’s all gone, but I didn’t work for a while. And this was the first thing that I did after that, after a period of convalescing.”
The next minute or so of the conversation is me stammering out a way to ask if she’s really okay, and if she wants to talk about this on the record.
“I’m actually fine talking about it,” she says. “I had no intention of talking about it, but it’s not a secret, and I am fine. The kind of thyroid cancer that I had is one hundred percent survivable, and I’m incredibly, incredibly lucky. But it’s a thing, and it definitely gives you a new perspective.”
It also gave Parker a very good reason to make Weirdos her first project once she was ready to return to work. The movie was written by Daniel MacIvor and directed by Bruce McDonald, the friends with whom she’d made Twitch City and Trigger. And while the film focuses on a pair of Nova Scotia teens, Kit (Dylan Authors) and Alice (Julia Sarah Stone), its dramatic payoff rests on the scenes with Kit’s mother. And that role was created for Parker.
“I almost didn’t feel ready to go [back] to work,” she says, “but it was Daniel and Bruce and I knew that it would just be a good, safe place to be.”
When I spoke to MacIvor just before Weirdos premiered at TIFF last year, he told me that those shooting days felt like getting the band back together as if no time had passed. I tell Parker this, and she’s … not totally on board with the sentiment.
“I don’t know if I would agree that no time had passed,” she laughs. “It sure has! But it’s a very lucky thing to have people that you work with again and again over decades, you know? Because you see each other grow, and also because I really love him and Bruce, like really love them and have known them for so long. Daniel and I have worked together many times – he wrote Marion Bridge, the play which we turned into a film, and he wrote Trigger, that I did with Tracy Wright and Bruce, and then he wrote this part for me.
“There’s just an unspoken – I mean, we love to talk about characters and all that stuff but we just sort of get each other, you know? It’s really lucky. I love his writing so much, it makes me laugh and always makes me happy. He’s so smart, and there’s something incredibly joyful about his writing.”
And her own state of recovery helped her find the way into the character. “There was something just about that that allowed me to be free in her, in a way that I might not have been able to be at another time, if that makes any sense,” Parker says. “And because this character has a sort of mania that she’s in when we meet her – yeah, I was just really able to relate to this incredible joy she had about being alive on that day.”