Mamie Gummer Shares Screen with Mom Meryl Streep in "Ricki and The Flash" (Opens Sep 9)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Mamie Gummer stars opposite her mother Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline in Ricki and the Flash for Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme. Written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody, the film features a clutch of electrifying musical performances as it follows Streep’s rock star character, Ricki Rendazzo, on a journey to redemption. Gummer stars as Ricki’s estranged daughter, Julie…



What appealed to you about your role in Ricki and the Flash? Playing an emotionally damaged character is always interesting…

It is the greatest gift to be allowed to be un-pretty. It’s great that the focus of each frame is not whether a hair is out of place or whether there is enough sheen on my lips. It really frees you up to be truthful and honest. Plus, it’s great being able to work in those clothes. In the project I’ve just come off I play a member of the Women’s Army Corps in 1942 and was dressed in this really tight, cone-breasted and starchy army uniform. That was a complete contrast to what I wore in Ricki. I really missed those pyjamas.


You’ve known Kevin Kline for a long time. You must have enjoyed working with him on Ricki, as well as with your mum, of course?

God, yes. The whole thing was wonderful and I would have been a fool to turn away from this opportunity. Kevin was a joy and he really brims with enthusiasm and love and care for the work and the story. Also, as you say, I have a lot of history with him. I have known him more or less all my life, so it was easy for him to feel protective of me, and for me to feel very safe with him. The challenge was trying to wedge some distance between my mother and me in the roles we were playing. My mother is the one person on the planet I am most intrinsically connected to, so that was a bit odd, although it was nothing we couldn’t handle.



I understand your director, Jonathan Demme, asked you and your mum not to talk to one another in between takes. I guess that was to help maintain the tension between your characters…

It was a deliberate choice but I didn’t realise it at the time. Jonathan had made it clear to my mom but he hadn’t told me that it was his intention – to keep us geographically as far away from one another as possible. Our trailers and our chairs were always at the opposite end of where we were working, but Jonathan didn’t tell me that beforehand so I was like, ‘Why is everyone hanging out without me?’ But it was deliberate, and that was how the character, Julie, has felt. She felt as though she hadn’t had enough attention and wasn’t cared for enough, so I think Jonathan wanted to feed in to that tension. Julie felt abandoned by her mother and is not happy. I feel that she was very betrayed by that. It doesn’t mean that they are beyond repair and when Ricki comes back and makes a valiant effort to reconnect, some of Julie’s anger subsides and she softens and that sets her free to some degree.



Off set, did you and your mum talk about the day’s work and the characters?

We travelled to set separately but often we would drive home together. So we fell into a groove, talking about what had transpired that day, but we wouldn’t talk about what was coming up. We didn’t make any plans about how we were going to approach future scenes.

This film also reunites your mother with Kevin. Have you seen any of their stage performances together?

I saw The Seagull that they did together, and I watched it about four or five times. They have a real affection for each other and the level of trust is something to really marvel at. They have an exuberance and watching them act together feels like you’re all sharing a glass of champagne.



And how did you find Jonathan’s direction? He’s certainly very accomplished at working with music in movies…

Yeah, it seemed like a perfect match. He is so passionate about music and he has this merry band of revellers. He is like a troubadour in a way. He loves that sense of community and he embraces everyone. It is very galvanising and he brought a real energy to the set.


You sing with the band during the final scenes in the movie, but did you watch your mum and the Flash perform beforehand?

No, that was the first time I had seen them play. I knew my mom had been working very diligently but to see her really inhabit this rocker and become her was awesome. And the band-members are all so lovely. I know my mum really grew to love them and forged a real connection with them all. They are all extraordinary musicians and it was really amazing to have this private concert with them at this pavilion in Yonkers that we were using as the wedding set.


Your brother is musical and your mum is, too. Do you have the musical gene as well?

I can sing pretty well, I think, though no one else would know it because I have a paralysing fear of singing in front of other people.

Did you ever consider any other career, Mamie, or did you always know that performing was something you wanted to do?

I think acting was all that I ever wanted to do. It was what I grew up with. I saw that it made my mother so happy and it filled her with a deep and abiding joy. It was the same with my father. They both did what they loved and they allowed me to do what I loved, and to pursue whatever made me happy. It would have been odd had I become very passionate about something else, like economics, for example.


ABOUT THE FILM:

Meryl Streep takes on a whole new gig – a hard-rocking singer/guitarist – for Oscar®-winning director Jonathan Demme and Academy Award®-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody in Ricki and the Flash. In an original film loaded with live musical performances, Streep stars as Ricki Rendazzo, a guitar heroine who made a world of mistakes as she followed her dreams of rock-and-roll stardom. Returning home, Ricki gets a shot at redemption and a chance to make things right as she faces the music with her family. Streep stars opposite her real-life daughter Mamie Gummer; Rick Springfield, portraying a Flash member in love with Ricki; Kevin Kline as Ricki’s ex-husband; and Audra McDonald as Kline’s new wife.


To be shown exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas nationwide starting Sept. 9, “Ricki and the Flash” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

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