“Because she was so invisible to her father she didn’t grow up under the dominant gaze of his that my brothers suffered under, so Jean was able to eventually leave, escape, create her own life that in Jean’s world is a very healthy happy life,” says Elizabeth Marvel about her role as Jean Meyerowitz in the new Noah Baumbach film “The Meyerowitz Stories,” which premiered on Netflix on October 13. Watch our exclusive video interview with Marvel above.
Jean’s father Harold (Dustin Hoffman) is a self-involved sculptor, who wasn’t an especially good parent to Jean or her two brothers (Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller), yet the siblings are there for their dad when he falls ill. “She continues to love,” Marvel explains. “There’s something in there with Harold that keeps me loving him, which is part of the complicated experience we all have with our parents, especially as we grow older and the roles begin to be reversed. Even as we start to go gray ourselves we remain perpetually damaged children working out the same things we were trying to figure out when we were 10.”
Before it premiered on Netflix “The Meyerowitz Stories” premiered in competition at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, where it and “Okja” ruffled feathers because they would primarily be distributed online and not in theaters. The Netflix model is a double-edged sword, “but it’s fantastic the amount of people who will see this beautiful movie is increased a hundredfold because it will be streaming on Netflix,” says Marvel. However, “it’s intended to be seen on a film screen, and it’s a wonderful experience to see it in a movie theater, so I feel enthusiastic about both forms.”
Marvel is a prolific actress known for her work in film, TV (“House of Cards,” “Homeland”), and theater, and though you wouldn’t usually think New York theater would make national headlines, Marvel was a cast member in the Shakespeare in the Park production of “Julius Caesar” earlier this year that was the target of right-wing protests for depicting Caesar with the likeness of Donald Trump. “I assumed naively that people know the story of ‘Julius Caesar.’ One assumes that they understand that the whole point that Shakespeare was making with the story of ‘Julius Caesar’ is that if you kill the tyrant democracy dies,” so the play wasn’t promoting political assassination — far from it. Nevertheless the death threats poured in, but “we collectively agreed that it was important to continue performing the play and did, but I’ve never experienced anything like it. But it’s awesome that Shakespeare is so relevant.”
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