Maggie Grace may be best known for her roles in the Taken franchise and on television series like Lost and Californication. I sat down with her at the SXSW 2014 Film Festival to talk about one of her latest projects, Simon Helberg and Jocelyn Towne‘s real life romance mishap, We’ll Never Have Paris. Grace plays Kelsey, co-worker to Quinn (Simon Helberg), who upon learning he is planning to propose to his long-time girlfriend Devon (Melanie Lynskey), professes her love for him. Quinn quickly stumbles through a mess of mis-steps, beginning with reciprocating Kelsey’s attraction and leading Devon to reflect on her relationship, her life and ultimately where she wants to find herself.
Can you share a little about your character Kelsey?
Kelsey was quite an off the beaten path kind of character. A little more out there; not the brightest crayon in the box. But she’s really sweet and she thinks, as we all do, when you have feelings for someone that you’re the best thing for them. It’s not that she’s not a nice person; she’s not a man-stealer or a home-wrecker. She just really feels like he [Quinn]’s the answer to all the mishaps in her unromantic life and she’s never gone for this kind of guy who’s so sweet, and she really thinks maybe she can bring out the best in him. So, she ruins his life…unintentionally.
Love lives are messy. I think I just loved this script because it worked on that question with such a real, relevant voice because the writers/directors went through this in their own relationship, so it’s written in a very personal way. The stuff they went through and the other moments that were added combine to make a really truthful, really entertaining and painfully funny movie. What really drew me to [the film] was the way it approached that in a really thoughtful way.
Did you know this was Simon [Helberg]’s and Jocelyn [Towne]’s story when you read the script?
I didn’t know that at first, so I read it as a story that was just made up. Whereas Jason [Ritter] and Melanie [Lynskey] had long relationships with the two [Helberg and Towne], so I think they were more nervous reading the script. I read it more professionally. I thought it was so funny and so relatable, it took on so many questions I dealt with too.
People may look at it as another movie that’s about how hard it is for men to commit, but it’s not that. The dilemma is about when the rubber meets the road and it’s not specifically a masculine thing. It’s so relatable for everyone to sort through. It’s about the ebb and flow and what it means to be intimate and erotic and how to balance the two. It’s complex and I think this movie really handles that well instead of putting people in little boxes and closing them.
What was like working with Simon and Jocelyn on such a personal story as “the other woman”?
Actually, really seamless. To be honest, I was really nervous signing on for this. It was like ‘so, you want me to do love scenes with your husband about a tumultuous time in your relationship and you’re about to have your second child. Okay, cool, and we’re sure this isn’t gonna be rocky? Okay, great.’
They are emotionally involved and communicate so well with their actors and I’m sure with each other. The things that it’s based on happened a while ago, so it’s very much a story at this point. It’s a personal story, but a story that we’re all telling together. But there are layers of awkwardness to doing a love scene and being directed by someone’s wife while their in-laws are watching in the monitor.
Do you have a favorite on-set moment?
Definitely the moment with the in-laws watching myself and Simon through the monitor. It was also the hottest love scene of my career, literally. It was like two-hundred degrees in the room and the entire crew was crammed in to this little New York apartment and everyone was just drenched in sweat. Except for me, because I don’t sweat, I glow with feminine vitality.
I was already a casual fan of Grace’s, but after seeing her performance in We’ll Never Have Paris, I’ve become smitten with the actress. She really shows her comedic chops and a whole different side to he more dramatic roles that is not only endearing, but impressive.
The film stars Simon Helberg as Quinn who represents Simon Helberg in the real life version of the story (stay with me) and Melanie Lynskey as Devon who represents Helberg’s wife, Director Jocelyn Towne. Maggie Grace as Kelsey, “the other woman”, Zachary Quinto as Jameson, Quinn’s best friend, Jason Ritter as Devon’s meathead brother, Judith Light as Devon’s very protective mother, Alfred Molina as Quinn’s dentist father and Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Guillaume, the beautiful Frenchman. We’ll Never Have Paris is making the rounds on the film circuit right now and is a true to life look at love and all the complications that come along with it.