Gretchen Mol

Gretchen Mol

Spotlight By: Andrea Tuccillo

Gretchen Mol was once touted as Hollywood’s new “it” girl on the cover of Vanity Fair, but she seems more content to just go with the flow, no labels required. Her breakthrough as an “it” girl never really happened, yet Mol has worked steadily in a diversified number of films, television, and stage productions. Instead of being a fleeting talent, she is proving that she’s in this business for the long-haul. In the David Wain-directed comedy The Ten, which is out on DVD January 15th, Mol got a chance to show off her funny side.

The film is a wacky, exaggerated take on the Bible’s Ten Commandments. It weaves together ten different stories and revels in its own randomness. Mol plays Gloria, an uptight, repressed woman who has an affair with Justin Theroux‘s character.

“It was just a ball,” she says of the shoot. “It was summer. You’d show up to work and who knew what you were going to find because the crew was just like, what are we making? They’d bring farm animals—it was just insanity, but it was great fun. And at the core of it David and [writer/actor] Ken Marino had a structure and they knew exactly what they were doing as far as each piece really has a different visual style, so there was a lot of structure underneath the ridiculousness of the situations.”

As soon as Mol read the script she knew it was something hilarious, but the look and feel of the finished product still ended up being somewhat of a surprise. “My commandment was very torrid, almost romance novel and heightened the way it was shot and then you got to the one that was animation and you’re sort of like what is this?” she says. “It’s very stream of consciousness almost. So as a script I didn’t see it for as funny as it ended up being but

Gretchen Mol

I knew, having seen their work before I trusted their thing and I knew I found it funny so I trusted that it would be something interesting, if nothing else.”

Mol‘s character in The Ten certainly seems like a departure from the sexy, confident pinup girl she played in The Notorious Bettie Page. The differences were a welcome change though, and Mol was still able to relate the two characters in some way. “It was fun to take the cliché of the uptight, inexperienced librarian and just kind of go full force with it,” she says. “It was just an opportunity to play and be playful again after Bettie. But Bettie had a little bit of that innocence too. I feel like I often get cast this way. It was definitely with the ‘wink, wink’ aspect to this character but I think the important thing that David stressed was that we’re not trying to play it for laughs. It’s all to be played very straight and the comedy sort of comes out of the situation.”

Her bizarre love scenes with Theroux proved to be a very awkward situation, but the sillier they got, the funnier the end result became. “I think that makes it easier almost when it’s got something fun about it or silly about it,” she says of filming the sex scene. “It’s sort of how you feel when you’re doing a love scene anyway, that this is really ridiculous trying to play these emotions or whatever goes on behind closed doors and trying to make it feel so real. In this it was liberating not to have that—the drama element of it. It was like the more ridiculous it is the better.”

After completing The Ten, Mol made an appearance in the more serious-minded 3:10 to Yuma starring Christian Bale and Russell Crowe. “I’m playing Christian Bale‘s wife and it’s not a very big part,”

Gretchen Mol

she explains. “There’s only two women in the film I think. But I got to play with both Christian and Russell Crowe and that was really wonderful. I’m so happy to be part of the film because the performances from those two are really great and I think it’s just a really strong, old-fashioned western. It’s not trying to reinvent the genre in any way, except more action maybe. But I think James [Mangold] just did a really great job directing and it’s intelligent. It’s an adult film but it’s got the fun and the pleasure of a western.”

Mol’s latest role? New mom to her son who was born in October. While spending time with her new baby and family at her home in New York, Mol plans to get back to work if only on small projects for now. “The Ten was two weeks or so of my life; it wasn’t like six months the way some commitments can be,” she says. “So it’s possible to find these jobs where you can get a taste of it or you can keep your feet in the water without having to give up a huge amount of time. I’m not going to be one of those people, and I don’t think I can afford to be one of those people, that says I’m not going to work for that amount of time. I miss it and it’s what I do so I’ll figure out how to do it, but again I’ve also never had the career where I knew what’s coming up next. It’s always been sort of a surprise to me, so we’ll see.”

We could be seeing Mol on stage soon. She loves the theater and relishes the thought of doing another play. “The thing that’s great about being back in New York is that I can think, ‘Oh I’d love to do that again,’” she says. “And there’s something

Gretchen Mol

about that schedule—once you’re done with the rehearsal period you show up at 6:30. You do get tired and it is a rigorous thing but your life is very structured in a way that with film, you’re often just sitting around on set for over 12 hours not always doing anything and I think that would just kill me. Being a mother and feeling like you’re just wasting time in a way whereas at least with theater when you’re on, you’re on. I can see myself trying to do that.”

Whatever her next project might be, Gretchen Mol is along for the ride.

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