Q&A: Lynn Shelton

Director, Laggies

Lynn Shelton’s Laggies follows a Seattle woman (Keira Knightley) who flees from a marriage proposal to hide out with a teenager (Chloë Grace Moretz) and her dad (Sam Rockwell).

Although it’s very clearly a movie from the same person who made Humpday, Your Sister’s Sister and Touchy Feely, it’s a new step for Shelton. A month after the film’s TIFF premiere, she explained why.

(For venues and times, see Movies.)

You’ve relied on improvisation and extensive rehearsal to create characters and scripts before, but Laggies is your first film to be written by someone else – specifically, Andrea Seigel. What was that like for you?

It was about finding where our voices blend. I kept thinking, “Well, it’s going to be a Lynn Shelton script by the time I make the movie.” But I realized at the end of it, actually, it’s both of our voices. Because even though I felt a great affinity with Andrea Seigel’s authorial voice, she’s still Andrea Seigel and I’m still me!

Keira Knightley’s Megan is presented as an unfinished person, but not because she’s clinging to adolescence. She’s just moving at her own speed.

Exactly! She doesn’t know what she wants, but she knows what she doesn’t want when it’s presented. And what she doesn’t want, she’s realizing, is to be in lockstep with all of the friends who are moving, piece by piece, into this very conventional, established definition of what you’re supposed to be doing to get to “maturity.” She isn’t immature. She lives in this society that is treating her as if she is. It’s about finding her own version of adulthood and giving herself that opportunity.

Knightley’s played American characters before, but this is her first lead – and it’s a complex, very specifically American role. Was there any adjustment required for either of you?

Originally, [the script] was set in Orange County, near Los Angeles, so not only was she American, but Californian. It really helped that they let me transplant it up here to the Northwest, because she reads to me as very Northwest – maybe it’s just the pale skin [laughter]. I remember her asking, on her way out here to shoot, “I’ve never been to Seattle. What’s the weather like?” I said, “It’s like London.” And she said, “Lots of grey? I’ll feel right at home.”

Interview Clip

Lynn Shelton expands on the plight of Keira Knightley’s character:

Download associated audio clip.

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