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Interview: Anne Heche on How Girls Do It with Girls in THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

Having grown up in New York City’s East Village, I like to think that it takes at least a little effort to surprise me. So when I went to read about an upcoming film called That’s What She Said, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it’s description succeeded. After all, it’s truly rare, even today, to see a film described as: “[A] quirky, down and dirty, comedic look at how friendship can survive chronic sarcasm, bizarre stranger-danger, an unexplained itch and a dangerous dildo.” And I have to admit, I was intrigued.

So, I read on. That’s What She Said‘s official Synopsis explains:

Bebe (Marcia DeBonis) is getting ready for the most romantic encounter of her
life, and she needs her best friend Dee Dee (Anne Heche) to cheer her on.
Too bad Dee Dee is so cynical about dating that she shows up three hours
late only to spew cigarette smoke and bitterness all over the morning coffee.
And too bad Clementine, a train wreck of a stranger (Alia Shawkat), has decided
to invade their day with non-stop talk about her nymphomaniac escapades.
Looking to turn the day around, this fearsome threesome embark on a day of
misadventure that only New York City can offer.
THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID is a quirky and honest look at friendship in the face
of adversity, asking one of life’s great questions:
why does it always have to be so hard? (That’s what she said.)

That’s What She Said (R, 84 mins.) was directed by Carrie Preston (True Blood, My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Good Wife) and written by Kellie Overbey (who also plays a role in the film).

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Last week, Tony Farinella (411 Mania) and I had the opportunity to speak with Anne Heche about her no-holds-barred character, Dee Dee, and the making of That’s What She Said.

In response to some of 411 Mania’s questions, Heche told us that Dee Dee was “one the most specific characters [she’s] ever played,” and that “making her voice real was quite a challenge . . . because she doesn’t exist in a place of hope and truth and light and love.” (As opposed to Heche, who joked: “I’m happy all the time!”) “I’ve never rehearsed so much for a role,” Heche said, “never said the lines so many times out loud, to try to find the voice, and the rhythm, and the character.” Dee Dee, in Heche’s mind, had to be “somebody who had lost all hope”–a character that is “very, very rare” because she is “so deeply wounded.”

On the process making of That’s What She Said with her co-stars Marcia DeBonis and Alia Shawkat, Heche said: “The great thing [was] that we laughed a lot. […] We love each other!” Heche told us that she helped Shawkat get involved in the film because she “didn’t think anybody else could play a nymphomaniac and make it funny. And [Shawkat] does.” DeBonis, on the other hand, had been involved with That’s What She Said since it’s theater-based origins eight years ago. Heche explained that DeBonis “is so beloved and adored by Carrie and Kelly” that their “belief . . . about her being the lead of this movie, and knowing that they would never make another choice,” helped Heche to quickly connect with both DeBonis and her character, Bebe.

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Screen Invasion: Director Carrie Preston has described the film as: “A chick flick that’s not for pussies.” What were your first thoughts when you originally read the script?

Anne Heche: I nearly fell off my seat. . . . I read that this Dee Dee chick brushes her teeth and smokes at the same time and I thought, if this doesn’t get worse than this moment in the script, I’m in. It just looked hilarious. . . . It’s [also] really heartbreaking to watch three women who have kind of lost their self-esteem and their hope for themselves, and have them find it. And the best of these movies are the one where these girls find redemption and hope, and that’s what this does, but this does it in a really real, raw way. And, I think, the fact that these girls tell so much truth, and that the script tells so much truth about these women, is why it works so well.

SI: Was there any aspect of Dee Dee that you enjoyed playing precisely because that trait is not entirely socially unacceptable?

AH: Of course! I loved it! . . . To be able to play somebody who does not give a shit about anybody or anything is really, really ballsy, and it’s really fun. . . . She was such a challenge to me, but when I would put on that dark black coat, and put a cigarette [in my mouth] . . . I feel like I was smoking and drinking my way to purity. It was quite a romp for me—a lot of fun. A lot of fun to walk like her, talk like her. You know, you get to play her once, but then you gotta put her on her shelf—she can’t come into real life.

SI: Do you think any particular lines or subject matters in the film ‘crossed the line’?

AH: I’m not a negative comedian, nor do I participate in negative comedy, so that’s really what crosses the line for me, in terms of what my own boundaries are. . . . So, when you’re making a movie that deals with this much raw emotion and truth, for me, it still needs to stay within the boundaries of hope and joy, and not taking anybody prisoner with negativity or hatred.

SI: Do you think the film offers any particular lessons or insight into the reality of how women support each other?

AH: Carrie always said, “This is a movie about friendship.” And I say, well, it’s a movie about unlikely friendship. When you’re so raw as a girl that you put all your faith in the men who have hurt you, you’re starting three women at the same horrible, devastating place in their life . . . . To put [these women] in such an extreme place . . . and then to have them be able to build each other up and find friendship at the end was the challenge of this movie. This movie happens in a day. . . . There’s no life journey—there’s one day that’s the journey of a life. Finding that you can be at your worst and still be loved at the end of the day by your friends is really, I think, the message that Carrie wanted more than anything to get out there: that we can show our true selves and be loved. That’s the task of friendship.

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Like what you’ve read so far? Watch the trailer and see how girls do it raw with other girls.

[springboard type=”youtube” id=”Pvif1IrV2MM” player=”scin001″ width=”560″ height=”315″ ]

That’s What She Said–produced by Daisy 3 Pictures and distributed by Phase 4 Films–will be in theaters (New York and Los Angeles), and available on VOD, starting Friday, October 19.

[one_half]Cinema Village
22 East 12th Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 924-3363
7:40pm and 9:35pm[/one_half]Laemmle’s Music Hall 3
9036 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, 90211
(310) 478-3836
Showtimes To Be Announced!

For more information about That’s What She Said, check out the Official Website and Facebook page, and follow @TWSSmovie, director Carrie Preston, and star Anne Heche on Twitter.

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Also, stay tuned to Screen Invasion this week, for my interview with director Carrie Preston (Wednesday) and a This Chick’s Flicks recommendation piece on why you (and all your besties) need to see That’s What She Said immediately, if not sooner (Thursday).

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Follow Sarah Katz on Twitter (@sarahdkatz), and check out Screen Invasion on Twitter (@ScreenInvasion) and Facebook.

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All photos and trailer: © 2012 Phase 4 Films (USA), LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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The Author

Sarah Katz

Sarah Katz

Born-and-bred New Yorker. Lifelong film & TV lover—from chick flicks, rom-coms, rom-droms, rom-drams, and tweentertainment, to Shakespeare, period pieces, James Bond, fairy tales, and mafia movies.