Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.
Perhaps you remember her as the sexual surrogate in Spike Jonze’s HER, or playing opposite Michael Cera in YOUTH IN REVOLT, or maybe even as Chloë Grace Moretz’s best friend in CARRIE— whatever it may be, Portia Doubleday is a talent to watch.
She’s starring in the upcoming USA Network series MR. ROBOT, a show that pivots around the terrifying world of hacking. And she has a new movie out this weekend titled AFTER THE BALL, which follows the story of a young fashion designer who dons a disguise to help save the family business for her father (Chris Noth).
Fresh Fiction had the opportunity to speak with Doubleday this morning to discuss her roles in AFTER THE BALL and MR. ROBOT. Here is our conversation below, where we focus on career pressures, risks, and on-screen couples we’d like to see again down the road.
I watched the film this morning, and I know I may not seem like the demographic, but I enjoy movies like this. They’re just fun and charming. This one in particular reminded me of SHE’S THE MAN meets THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA. With the whole Shakespeare thing, you know? It was fun.
Portia Doubleday: “Oh! I’m glad you liked it.”
Doubleday: “Those are some great analogies.”
[Laughs] It’s true. But, your character, Kate/Nate, when she’s working at Kassell Clothing, she’s under tight deadlines, trying to prove her worth to her father and those around her. There is a lot of pressure on her. What’s the most pressure you’ve felt to get a role right?
Doubleday: “Oh my God. That’s such a crazy question! But it’s so interesting because I was just talking to my friends about this. I deal with that a lot, actually. I think that’s what can kill art. When you aim to get something right, you can’t experience the other possibilities within playing your character. So, I guess I try to, as much as I can, pull away from the idea that there’s a right truth. There can be a truth that functions more, it seems, but I don’t like using ‘this is right and this is wrong.’ I guess being hurt, being vulnerable and expressing yourself, you know? As soon as you have eyes on yourself, you’re watching yourself and improving what you do. How can you possibly be in the moment and, you know, be naked?
So I would say, even though this is a very philosophical answer [Laughs], I would say I don’t try to get it right. I try to find what my truth is through that character, how I can best relate to them, what interests me, and what I want to say– that’s what I look for when I’m working on stuff.”
That was a very good answer!
Doubleday: “Well, it was very philosophical. I’m sorry [Laughs]. I was talking to my friends about that the other night.”
[Laughs] Well, there was a lot of truth in it, and I appreciate that. I also like how Richard (Carlo Rota) and Bella (Mimi Kuzyk) push Kate to make risks and kind of go for it. Have you ever had moments like that in your career, where you kind of just had to go for it and not think about the risk involved?
Doubleday: “Yes! Definitely. Yeah, I have really good friends, and they helped me prepare for this role, actually, because I had no idea how I was going to play Nate. My friends are artists, and we kind of sit around and I’ll ask them what their opinion is on it. And for hours we’ll just play around, which makes it really fun. So, I guess my best friends are my ‘fairy godparents’ [Laughs], like Richard and Bella. Although, they wouldn’t like that idea.”
[Laughs] That’s funny. What sort of things did you learn about the fashion industry by doing this film? Has doing this movie effected what’s in your closet now?
Doubleday: “Yeah! Actually, it has. One of the best parts of doing the film was being able to go up with Jane [Silverstone Segal] into Le Château and walk around. I wanted to know what it was like to be there, you know? What it was like to be Jane, right? [Laughs] And I got to go into the shoe department and listen to the way they talk about shoes and detail-oriented they are. I learned all these vocabulary words that I hadn’t known previously.
I admire Jane so much. I’ve never met a powerful woman like that, and it was nice to meet her and see what she does. She’s an inspiration and a great person. She runs a beautiful, creative company.
When I was learning all the details about the shoes and those vocabulary words, I actually put it into the scene where I’m in Daniel’s (Marc-André Grondin) work area. I took terms I learned there and thought, ‘why don’t I just use it here?’ I had no idea how much effort goes into the smallest details in fashion. It kind of blew my mind. It was amazing!”
That’s really cool. Speaking of Daniel, I really like how goofy Kate/Nate is with Daniel. They’re the kind of couple that you would like to see 20 years down the line, just to see what they’ve been up to. Are there any other on-screen couples that you would like to see 20 years down the line?
Doubleday: “Oh my gosh! [Laughs] Wow! OK. You got to give me some examples. I can’t think of any of the top of my head. You know what I would want to see? I would like to see MY GIRL, but if the boy didn’t die in it. Does that even count?”
Yeah, you could do that. I’m sure some people would say Jack and Rose in TITANIC, if Jack had lived.
Doubleday: “I know what would have happened if their story continued. They would have gotten married and got sick of each other [Laughs]. But yeah, I would like to see MY GIRL. I used to watch it as a kid all the time. It’s so good. Such a good movie.”
Yeah, same here. Very good.
Before we run out of time, can I ask you about MR. ROBOT?
Doubleday: “Yes, you can!”
OK! Great. I saw it at South by Southwest, and I’m not just saying this, but it’s probably the best pilot or first episode to a series that I’ve seen in a long time.
Doubleday: “Really? Oh, how cool!”
Oh, yeah! It’s really geared towards the kind of material I like. It’s smart, well acted, and the score was great, too. I love this 80s style of music that is making its way back into film and television. I really liked it a lot.
Doubleday: “That’s so cool. I’m so glad to hear that. It’s really cool working on the show. It’s been one of the best experiences I’ve had, by far.”
I bet! Are you excited for a wide-audience to see it when it premieres?
Doubleday: “Yeah! It airs June 24th. We’re going to do the Tribeca Film Festival this weekend. It’ll screen and we’re going to do a Q&A afterwards.
It’s just so cool– I would say this show really speaks to this generation and what we’re dealing with. It’s very scary, you know? Doing the show, we learned a lot about hacking and knowing what people can get access to– you just don’t have privacy anymore. It’s a really wild show. It’s insane!”
AFTER THE BALL is in theaters and on VOD today. MR. ROBOT premieres on USA on June 24th.
AFTER THE BALL – Official Trailer
Distributor: Freestyle Releasing
Release date: April 24h (Theaters & VOD)
Directed by: Sean Garrity
Written By: Kate Melville & Jason Sherman
Starring: Portia Doubleday, Chris Noth, Lauren Holly, Marc Andre Grondin
Run Time: 102 Minutes
MR. ROBOT – Official Trailer