“Conversations with Friends” focuses on an extramarital affair between an actor named Nick (Joe Alwyn) and a young college student named Frances (Alison Oliver). Their relationship makes Nick’s wife, Melissa (Jemima Kirke), and Frances’ ex-girlfriend and best friend, Bobbi (Sasha Lane), potential third wheels. Melissa and Bobbi are the characters audiences might want to be pushed aside to allow for the central relationship to flourish.
But as Lane tells Gold Derby in an exclusive video interview, finding the depth and humanity of Bobbi was paramount to her experience as an actor. “She’s so easily written off as the villain, but you never got her perspective, you never got to hear her side of the conversation,” Lane says. “You never got to be in the room with her because you’re only seeing it through one person’s lens…. Like she’s always the one who’s like, ‘There’s an elephant in the room, we want to talk about it.’ And then everyone’s like, ‘How dare you?’”
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Based on the Sally Rooney novel of the same name, the Hulu limited series “Conversations with Friends” comes from the same team of filmmakers who produced the breakout series “Normal People,” also based on a Rooney book. That means the show’s central relationships – not just Frances and Nick, but Frances and Bobbi as well – are given deep consideration and thought.
“I like the fact that in the relationship with Francis, there’s a large amount of care that she has for her and to have a friendship that long, especially one that’s lasted through a romantic relationship, and then into a friendship,” Lane says of her character. “There has to be a reason that they’re still together, there has to be a reason that they have an understanding. And when it’s just the two of them, there’s such openness and freedom of their love and their energy. And I think Bobbi enjoys being just with Frances just as much as Francis enjoys being just with Bobbi. So for me, that’s always fun to do. And I like when they’re silent moments and things that you have to bring from a page to life that requires no action, but more so looks and personalizing things and reflecting.”
Lane made her screen debut in the 2016 film “American Honey” and has worked steadily since, including playing a supporting role in the Marvel series “Loki.” But her committed performance in “Conversations with Friends” stands as a highlight thus far, and shows she has more to give as an actor going forward.
“It’s a job and I take that very seriously. And it’s also still a passion of mine and I’m just trying to make sure that I enjoy it because it’s really hard work and it takes a lot,” she says of her relationship to acting. “This takes a big chunk out of our lives and I’m a mom now – it’s a lot to do. So I want to respect everyone else in this craft, everyone who makes these projects with us, that is a big deal…. My goal is to evolve and to get better constantly, and I hope that happens. One can only hope.”
“Conversations with Friends” is streaming on Hulu.
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