Justin Long, Tyler Labine, and Jess Weixler in a scene from Best Man Down.

Jess Weixler

Same Trailer Different Parts

Nov 08, 2013 Web Exclusive
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There's a hint of protectiveness in actress Jess Weixler's voice when she discusses the anxiety issues suffered by Kristin, the character she plays in Best Man Down. After all, the film's writer/director, Ted Koland, wanted to put Weixler's character, a new bride, through extenuating circumstances while skewering the increasingly obsessive nature of wedding planning and the unrealistic expectations that go with it.

Kristin and her husband, Scott (Justin Long), are Minnesota natives who have tied the knot among family and friends at a destination wedding in Phoenix. What's been long-planned to be one of the happiest memories in their lives turns disastrous when Scott's best man, Lumpy (Tyler Labine), is found dead outside the premises the next day. Scott decides to cancel the couple's honeymoon plansand Kristin's dream of sitting under a palm tree in a kaftanto return Lumpy's body back to Minnesota, where he might have been involved in a relationship with a girl named Ramsey (Addison Timlin). The trauma of the situation causes friction between the newlyweds and exacerbates Kristin's reliance on the small pharmacy she carries in her purse. Still, Koland's humanistic touch and the actors' sensitive portrayals keep the characters sympathetic throughout this hybrid dark comedy/road film/mystery/family drama.

When Under the Radar last spoke with Weixler in 2009, she just had moved from New York to Los Angeles and bought a car. Now she's back in New York, thanks to a guest starring role as investigator Robyn Burdine on CBS' The Good Wife. We spoke to Weixler by phone in late October to discuss Best Man Down, The Good Wife, and Trouble Dolls, a film that she's co-written and co-directed.

 Chris Tinkham (Under the Radar): How did you get involved with Best Man Down?

Jess Weixler: Ted, the directorthis is sort of a weird way to get a job, most of them don't happen like thishe had seen the trailer for Free Samples. He hadn't seen the movie yet, because it hadn't come out. He saw the trailer for it, apparently, and then just offered me the role, which was really nice, 'cause auditioning is always super awkward. I read it, and I loved the cast. Tyler Labine, Justin Long, and Addison are all really great actors, really great at what they do and have a good sense of comedy.  So it felt like a no-brainer. I was like, "Yeah, I'd love to do this."

Your character takes a lot of prescription drugs. It seems like Ted wanted to make a connection between over-the-counter drugs and illegal drugs. Did he talk to you about that?

A little bit, yeah. He said it's not something for me to think about from the outside. The line that Addison has, I think is a great line, where she references her mom saying, "It's OK to take drugs for fun"even though that's not true"but it's not OK to take drugs when you have a problem because when the drugs wear off, the problem is still there." And I think they're just trying to indicate that I have an ongoing anxiety problem, which you can really see on the airplane scene. I'm pretty high-strung in this movie. [Laughs]

Well, there was a wedding going on.


What was it like working with Shelley Long?

It was great. I was so excited when I found out she was doing it. I loved her from so many of her movies in the '80s and Cheers. It's strange to me to see us on camera next to each other, 'cause it's like, "Wow. We look like mother and daughter," especially when we have the exact same haircut in the movie. They wanted us to have this really Midwestern, blonde bangs look.

For the end credits, with the version that I saw, you're credited as Jessica. Does that happen from time to time?

It was a mistake. I haven't really gone by Jessica since I was in middle school. Because I've never been in a class anywhere without having another Jessica in it. I just started going by Jess very young.

What about your last name? What's your heritage?

Weixler, I think, is Austrian.

How did you get cast in The Good Wife? Was that a very businesslike process?

It happened much the same way as the Best Man Down thing happened. [Laughs] It's really funny. I think [Good Wife executive producers] Robert and Michelle King had seen the trailer for Free Samples, and then they were like, "Who is this person?" Then they did their research on me and offered me to come in and be a new investigator on the show with Kalinda [Archie Panjabi]. It's worked out so beautifully because I'm actually in the middle of directing my movie. We finished our shoot about a month ago. So, all the time that I'm not shooting The Good Wife, I'm in the editing room. It times out perfectly right now, because, as a guest star, I'm not in every episode, and I'm not on all the time, so it gives me the time to go home and be in the postproduction process on our movie.

What was the deal with the Free Samples trailer? Did you get a good edit or something?

I don't know! I don't know if I'm talking out of turn. This is just the story that I heard on two different cases, where they said, "We saw you in the Free Samples trailer..." I'm thinking, "That must have been a great trailer for me." I think it's also because I'm somebody who likes taking offbeat girl roles, as opposed to the girlfriend or the girl next door, even though I sort of have that look. On The Good Wife particularly, they wanted her to have a sneaky side, like a kooky side, and I think that that trailer showed that. I think that was that connection.

Is there anything you can share about your character on the show that maybe viewers don't know? Not spoilers but maybe something about her background?

I don't know that I'm allowed to share much. They're so private on TV. [Laughs] Right now, on the show, the ones that have been airing, I'm just kind of doing business work, but it starts to get more fun for me down the road. There's one episode, the outfit that I'm wearing in it is actually the same outfit as this Japanimation character from Dragon Ball Z.

Is that a Halloween episode?

No, it's probably gonna air in like four from now.

When I talked to Amy Seimetz earlier this year, she said that she was staying at your place in L.A. Did you know her before Alexander the Last?

No, we met during Alexander the Last and totally became like sisters. I feel like I've worked with some really amazing girls in my career who I created very tight sister bonds with, and Amy is one of them. She's brave and talented and really supportive, and it's really nice when you find those people where you don't feel that competitive vibe. They only want to raise you up. And she's one of those friends. We both are super happy we met and make each other better.

What was it like working with Jessica Chastain on The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby? Had you worked together since school?

No, which is why that was an incredibly special thing that happened and time for us to get to do that. 'Cause we have been best friends forever since we were roommates at Julliard, and we even were roommates for different periods of time over the years. When we were roommates in L.A., another friend of ours, Ned [Benson], who directed The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, was like, "Aw man, I'm gonna write you guys as sisters in this movie that I'm writing." And then he did, and it was gorgeous. His writing is so beautiful, and to have had somebody write something with me in mind to play Jessica's sister was really special. And it was nice because Jessica and I had done every single play together at school. Which is actually really strange, because it's four years of plays, where you do five plays every year, and a lot of times the cast has five people in them, or 10 people in them, out of a class of 20. We're mix-matched all the time, where you're doing just a play with three other people. And we somehow wound up in every single thing together, for four years. I played her mother in Romeo and Juliet. She was Juliet, and I was Lady Capulet. It was awesome to have so many parts in each other's lives and as characters, and then so many years later to have this movie with her is awesome.    

Is the name of the movie you're directing Trouble Dolls?

Yeah, Trouble Dolls! And I co-directed it with my friend Jennifer Prediger.

She was great in Red Flag, and I liked her in Pollywogs too. How did you two meet?

Funny story also. You're listing the girls in my life where I'm like, "Those girls are my sisters!" [Laughs] Jennifer, we oddly haven't known each other that long. I got to New York for The Good Wife, and when you're a guest star, you have to be a local hire. I got here so fast and had nowhere to stay and didn't know what to do, and Jennifer was leaving town to go help out Daniel Schechter on Life of Crime, and her place freed up for a month, and I thought, "At least I have a place to be for a month to figure out what to do next." And then she came back and we were roommates together for a month, and came up with this idea, and I had hit the hiatus from The Good Wife last year, so I knew we had three months, and we just started writing something. It's the fastest I've ever written something. I wrote something else that took me three years that I hope to do next. But it just sort of came out, and immediately the producers of Life of Crime, Kim Leadford and StarStream, read it and were really into it. And then they were like, "Let's make this movie." And a series of amazing things happened so we could shoot it very quickly between New York and L.A. Jennifer and I immediately clicked. We have a very similar sense of humor, and we also have very similar taste. We tend to like the same things. As we're editing, we'd look at moments and we're like, "Well, that's terrible. We can't use that." Or we'd look at another thing and we're like, "Hey, not bad."

How did you know her before you needed a place?

Our friend Ben Kasulke, who has shot multiple movies that both of us have done. Ben Kasulke shot The Lie, that I had done, and he was friends with both of us. He said, "I've got this friend, Jennifer. You guys are gonna get along. You need to go and move there." So I just did it based on his recommendation.           

Can you tell me what the film is about? I don't know if you've seen the IMDb synopsis, but it seems rather detailed. Is it accurate?

A detailed synopsis of Trouble Dolls?


I don't know. I should probably look at it. It's probably too detailed. And it's probably also not right. [Laughs] I think we go on record by saying it is an homage to Withnail & I. We were greatly inspired by that movie and wanted to make a female buddy comedy. Even though a lot of it actually is not super comedic. It's a kind of sad story. But it's a buddy movie. At the end of the day, it's a buddy movie like The Odd Couple. [Here], two people think that they can fix their problems by going on vacation. I think that's enough. I have a hard time explaining it even though I wrote it. Writing loglines is the worst! I'm sure you've come across this all the time, having to summarize things.

Definitely, but good ones are very helpful.

Yeah, we definitely need to wrap our heads around a solid logline. [Laughs]

Best Man Down opens today in select theaters and currently is available on iTunes and On Demand.



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