Warning: If you enjoy the Rob Lowe of NBC’s Park and Recreation, stay away from your local movie theater, especially if there is a screening of Mark Pellington’s I Melt With You -- the psychological thriller also starring Jeremy Piven, Thomas Jane, Christian McKay, and Carla Gugino. However, if you want to see a Rob Lowe who phenomenally portrays a tweaking, pill-addicted doctor who knows no limits to his own debauchery, then by all means, venture out to take in this film that will give you new perspective on manhood, aging, and life.
Taking a break from Parks and Recreation and Californication to chat with Buzzine’s Parimal M. Rohit about I Melt With You, Rob Lowe delves into life in his forties and what it was like to work on a testosterone-driven set.
Parimal M. Rohit: This is quite a courageous film for you to take. These are not your average run-of-the-mill characters that could be interpreted in so many different ways by the audience. What attracted you to the film and role?
Rob Lowe: We all read so many scripts, have read so many throughout our lives. To read something where you truly go, "Whoa, I’ve never read anything like this before," it’s pretty extraordinary. I was actually surprised Mark was able to make it. I wanted to be a part of a movie that was going to be as provocative as this movie was. But it’s not provocative in the way that other movies are trying to be, which is sexually provocative. This is, through the themes it is dealing with, what it’s like to really be a man. That was really, really interesting to me.
PMR: Thomas Jane says being a 40-year-old man is like being alone. What do you think about that?
RL: I beg to differ. Although I relate to the themes in the film totally, I’ve never felt more on top of my game than I have in my forties. I wouldn’t trade my forties for my twenties or anything. We’ve reached the right nexus of having learned enough and still having literally all of our power. I think it’s a sweet spot for men, and for women, actually, too.
PMR: It’s also been discussed how Americans are youth-obsessed and conditioned to not think past 40...
RL: Well, these guys in the movie don’t. That’s why the movie resonates so much. Look, you’re not going to get to where I am in my forties and feel okay about it today without a huge amount of work of who you are and where you’re not. If you don’t do that and you wake up and you are 40, 45, you’re in for a rude awakening. That’s for sure.
PMR: Here’s a bit of a conceptual question. It’s so easy to walk away from this film with negative thoughts and emotions. What can we positively take away from I Melt With You?
RL: To use the cliché, (this film) can be seen as a cautionary tale, and I don’t think that would be unfair. These are guys who didn’t do the work, they didn't do the self-assessment, they didn’t make the hard choices, and this is what they have to show for it. I think you can only put off paying for so long.
PMR: This film was quite organic, shot in 18 days on the fly, shooting in sequence, hand-held camera... Do you like that? Or do you prefer a more scripted, more thought-out and planned performance?
RL: It depends what you’ve bought in for. If you are doing a Sorkin script, it’s highly intricate, it’s about executing a very specific set of circumstances. With this, going in, we knew it was going to be this mad, passionate, sort of ‘what’s the method to the madness’ type of guerilla, intense filmmaking. I think the movie is really well-represented of what (that) feels like. When I saw the movie, it’s exactly what I thought it would be -- exhilarating, maddening ... all these different things where it blows you over. I don’t think I prefer one to the other; it just depends on what kind of war you fight.
PMR: How would audiences best relate to I Melt With You?
RL: It’s not designed to be the kind of movie where you go, "Yeah, I would’ve done the same thing." It’s meant to provoke, to get you to talk, to get you to feel, to get you to dig into the themes. In a movie-making culture today where all they want to do is opiate the masses, just want to take your money, (you) buy your popcorn and go see the second version we’re going to give you in a year and a half; that’s all anybody cares about. To do a movie like this, it was really, I thought, fun.
PMR: How does it feel to trash a house and then not have to clean it up? Even your characters did not have to clean it up!
RL: We did trash it, believe me. In all fairness, the blame goes to an actor who shall remain nameless, but let’s just say he doesn’t wear shoes. [Laughs]
PMR: How much of a risk was this film for you to take? Are you in a position where you could take on such a role and film, where others who are younger or less experienced cannot?
RL: This script is infamous. There were people who really wanted to be in it and didn’t get a chance, and other people were, "Dude, there’s no way." You want to be able to dig like you have to. Jeremy and I always talked about the places where you have to go in this movie. There are certain kinds of acting you can do -- you can do all on technique, you can do all on experience, you can do all with any number of tricks…that is part of your craft. But in this type of movie, it has to be authentic. You have to live it. There are people who don’t want to go there. There are people who can’t go there. If you can’t go there but you try to fake go there, you’re dead. I went into this knowing that, if I couldn’t get there, it would be one of the worst performances anybody had ever seen.
Magnolia Pictures' 'I Melt with You' is in limited release beginning December 9, 2011.