"She’s a rocker, so we were listening to a lot of Oasis, Pulp, Elastica" - TDF chats to Cobie Smulders, star of Songbird
Alright Now (2018)
Dir. Jamie Adams | Cast: Cobie Smulders, Emily Atack, Jessica Hynes, Richard Elis | Writer: Jamie Adams
Canadian born actress Cobie Smulders is a fixture through television and cinematic mediums. For followers of the small screen, Smulders is known for her stellar work in the multi serialised How I Met Your Mother, for Marvel fans, she will be forever remembered as Shield operative Maria Hill, circumnavigating The Avengers (2012). Smulders has made a transition into the world of music, with a film that brings back the frothy memories of effervescent Britpop. She talks to Eoghan Lyng about Songbird.
There is a nice sense of magic realism at play. What was it about this script that drew you to the part?
Well, Eoghan, the thing I liked about it was there wasn’t a script. That was the beauty of it, it was all improvised. This was a great adventure. I was sent an outline, so step by step from scene to scene, we made everything. It was like nothing I’ve done before, then we went to Cornwall, which was just a magical experience to it all.
There’s a tenable rock and roll swagger going on. How did you find playing a bona fide nineties rocker and were there any rockers you looked to for inspiration?
She’s a rocker, so we were listening to a lot of Oasis, Pulp, Elastica. That sort of pompous nature was a bit of a stretch. That was something I wasn’t so sure about, that sense of cock of the block, cock of the walk, I can’t remember what it is [chuckles]. It helps that my character was always a little boozy, always a bit drunk, so by pretending to be a little drunk, a bit boozy, helped with that side of the character.
You worked with Spaced lead and nineties icon Jessica Hynes. How did you two collaborate in your respective truths?
Oh my God, I love working with Jessica. She’s so wonderful, so brilliant, so friendly and so good. Always there on and always so funny. So reliable and so comfortable in the world of improv.
You find yourself in a situation in the film where yoga seems more rock and roll in character than the music. Did you and Jamie Adams identify with that particular scenario?
Ooh, I’m not sure what you’re trying to say [laughs]. I always find it amazing that people find yoga easy? Oh, I get it, she’s going back and younger people are doing yoga! Well, that wasn’t something that Jamie and I have personally experienced, something like she’s a woman, living in her own world. She grew up in the States, has a British parent, ends up in London, roams around London and never had that collegic experience. She missed out dorms in college. She spent much of her life going from pub to pub, playing pubs, idealising herself. It’s about going back and finding something about herself.
You’re a mainstay in the herculean Marvelverse. How does making a low budget film differ in process from a hefty blockbuster?
As I say, completely new to me. We did it in five days, totally improvised. Jamie really wanted that and I loved working him as a director. Being in an improvised environment is something unfamiliar, never done something like this before. Magical filming in England.
Though there’s a romance at play, the film focuses primarily on the friendship between the two women. Do you think there’s a change in the air in Hollywood to centre on female-centric stories?
I would say the relationship between the two women is something more like siblings than friends. You’ll find that with life, some very intimate relationships, someone from college or something. There’s an underlying juvenile nature to them. You have something with your friends, you might not see them for a long time, but it’s just under the surface. That regressionism. These types of relationships are very, very important and special.
Would you care to tell The Digital Fix what you’re working on next ?
Sure, I’d love to. I’m doing a series for ABC, we don’t know the title, it’s been changed [laughs]. It’s based on the Stumptown graphic novel, everyone should read it. It’s a thing in Portland, I’m playing someone who is very damaged, a bit of a drinking character, so that’s the thing that I’m focused on next.
Songbird Director Jamie Adams will be attending Q&As Falmouth Phoenix; Saturday 11/05 , Truro Plaza; Sunday 12/05 and Dartmouth Flavel - Monday 13/05.
Image credits: Andrew Wright