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“Scratch an actor, find an actress,” Dorothy Parker once pronounced in an arch mashup of misogyny and homophobia that passed for sophistication. 18, seems to be buried up to hers in familial discord. Those women fought that fight just seconds before I came into womanhood. I just sort of slipped my foot under the beauty of Kate Millett and Germaine Greer and Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem and all those beautiful women.

In rarer cases, if I may chance a misinterpreted mashup of my own, one can scratch an actress and find an actor. Levinson’s screenplay won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the Sundance Film Festival, and it is chock full of angst and gallows humor—much like a Beckett play, but one put through a cinematic blender with the top left off. Barkin—who uses that swagger of hers to stride straight into depths of vulnerability we’ve never seen from her before—anchors the film even as her character’s insistence that the family face its secrets and pathologies makes it run aground. I’ve never said this before, but I never had to burn my bra because I never wore a bra. When I first started making movies, it took me a while to get how sexist it was.

Barkin received a multimillion-dollar settlement from Perelman with the proviso that she not discuss the marriage or the settlement. That was the main thing I found so fascinating about the role. EB: I don’t live any part of my life in the closet. KS: What I’m trying to get to is the dynamic of being directed by someone you love, with whom you’re a “couple.” There’s coupling going on, Ellen. But I spent three years with Sam producing this movie. Watching films that influenced him in general and indicative of the way he wanted to do this movie. But I really did finally think if someone doesn’t protect this material and his vision it’s never going to get out there. Look, there is a certain feminine point of view in the way that Sam looks at the world. He’s always willing to give someone another chance. But even look at the character of Elliot—my character’s son in the film—he’s very androgynous. [Putting on Simone’s raspy lilt] “Get that little blonde over here to make my salad dressin’! There were so many other people like that at the Lower Manhattan Ocean Club. And then I worked as a waitress at the Lower Manhattan Ocean Club. When Ellen Burstyn signed on to this film, she called Sam and asked if there was any music that inspired him when he was writing it, and he sent her Nina Simone singing “Everything Must Change,” which is what plays over the end credits now of the movie. So as the producer, I went to get the rights to it, but it has always been denied by her and now her estate. But I sent them Sam’s script and told them we wanted the whole song and not just a part of it, and that no dialogue would be played over it. I used to wait on Nina Simone at the Lower Manhattan Ocean Club. But that was, in fact, my character’s representation of her relationship with her mother. And I challenge anyone to show me two minutes of film that can approach what Ellen Burstyn did in that chair in that scene.

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