Interview by James Patrick Herman
Photographs by Jeff Vespa
I was born in Montana and grew up in North Carolina. They’re really outdoors-y places so I love being around trees and animals.
Yes, this will be my first year. And I’m really excited about it.
I guess I’ll just break out into dance, you know? I’ve gotten a lot of awesome, positive feedback from that video. I had so much fun doing it. And Spike [Jonze] is the best.
I don’t think I can call myself a Sundance sensation. You’re putting me on the spot.
It’s an unconventional love story — between my character and Jesus. In some ways it’s a coming-of-age story set in a convent. My character is enraptured; she falls in love with Jesus and kind of breaks up with Him and in the process, she becomes a woman. Also, it was such a powerful, woman-heavy set: We had a female director, a female DP and an entirely female cast. I don’t think it would have been right to do it any other way: The story is about all these women and to not have a woman in charge of it would have been a terrible injustice.
She’s an innocent, loving, lost girl.
She’s probably a better person than I am. But I definitely felt some of the things that she feels: She has this overwhelming urge to be a good person. She craves love and intimacy.
I met with the director, Maggie Betts, and we just got along really well. I knew she was doing this story about nuns and at our first meeting I was like: “I’m not Christian at all and I don’t know much about this world but I would like to learn about it.” I don’t know if that’s the best way to start a conversation, but it was how our conversation started. Fortunately, she was like: “OK, let’s do it.”
I have a small part in it. I only have a couple scenes and I basically just chew out Elle Fanning. I’m really mean to her. She’s a very sweet girl, so it was hard to do that.
She’s just a mess. A New York party animal and a lost soul. The opposite of a nun.
I had a tiny part in Gia Coppola’s film, Palo Alto. I don’t even say anything. I was just happy to be on set hanging out because I was visiting a friend and Gia needed a girl to essentially cry to James Franco. So she was like: “Margaret, will you do that?” And so I did that and that was my first acting experience: James Franco made me cry. After that, my first real part was Jill on The Leftovers.
I’ve been really lucky and I’m so wildly grateful. But I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like that. I’ll always want to continue doing things that scare me.
Other than babysitting neighbors in North Carolina I didn’t. I was a dancer and that was very much a job to me growing up — an unpaid job. But I was in the ballet studio for like six hours a day. I was going to drop out of high school and join a small company, but that’s when I moved to New York and began studying at the American Ballet Theater over the summer. I met with a modeling agency and I started to get jobs. So I guess my modeling was normal-ish. It’s not a normal job at all, though.
I’ve been told to wear waterproof shoes. And try to see as many movies as I can.
I’m bringing my dog — I just rescued a dog with my sister His name is Books. He’s half lab and half chow chow and he’s adorable. My sister and I share him. She has to come to Sundance, too. So warm clothes, long johns, my puppy and my sister.
Snowboarding. I don’t do any tricks but I can go down a nice, steep hill without falling.
Staying warm. I just did this sci-fi romance type of movie with Anthony Mackie. The first two months were in France, and the last fifteen days were in Bulgaria. I was freezing. I filled up hot water bottles and put them under my costume, so the second half of the movie I look pregnant. I was like: Fuck this. It was so fucking cold. I don’t give a shit about anything. I’m wearing three-inch wool thermals under my costume and a hot water bottle on my belly. So what if it looks like I gained fifteen pounds?
My old dog passed away but he was named Butch from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid. That was a favorite of my parents when I was a little kid. I saw it when I was five — I probably saw a lot of movies that I shouldn’t have seen when I was a kid. I just love it because of my dog.