Free Samples not only is one of the best offbeat indies to be released in quite some time but also features one of the most intriguing female characters that the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival has to offer.
Jillian (played with remarkable conviction by Jess Weixler) is sexually liberated and smart-mouthed, and she takes no nonsense. After a night of binge drinking, she reluctantly covers a shift in her friend's ice-cream truck. She must spend the day handing out free ice-cream samples while being forced to contemplate her broken engagement and choice to leave law school. At the same time, she has to deal with some seriously bizarre Los Angeles folk. Her hard-drinking slacker friend, Wally (Jason Ritter), and Tex (a surprisingly chic Jesse Eisenberg), offer a brief distraction from her dragging workday, but, ultimately, she is forced to confront her most pressing issues and regrets.
The International Business Times had the chance to sit down with Weixler to find out what it was like to star in the ice-cream truck movie and why Jesse Eisenberg is sexy.
When you were approached to star in a film that takes place entirely in an ice-cream truck, did you think that it was a ludicrous concept?
I did have a feeling like: Oh, my lord. Can I pull this off? Who's going to watch me with a sour attitude for an entire movie? Do people want to see this? But it was a great challenge to try to capture what was really going on inside of this character. It was fun to watch her be trapped in this tin box.
What was your initial interpretation of Jill, and how did that change as you worked on the film? She's quite dynamic.
It was so much fun to play a character like this, someone who really doesn't care what people think and who can say whatever she wants to. She's kind of wicked and sour, but she's not a bad person, which is a great part. To be a little wicked, but have fine intentions. She's in this ice-cream truck because she's trying to be a good friend, but she's just not that great with people. She has very low tolerance for stupidity.
Have there been any bizarre jobs that you yourself have had that you could draw experiences from?
I've done a lot of odd jobs, including waitressing, which most actors have done. I was a busboy -- girl -- when I was younger and sold things at little fairs when I was younger. I mostly related the role to being a waitress and having to deal with customers. There are good people and some not-so-good people.
There are people who say some weird things!
There are some weird people out there, and you have to deal with them if you're in service. You don't have a choice. [She laughs.]
The film allowed you to share the screen with the iconic Tippi Hedren. Was there anything that you learned from working with someone who's been in the film business for so long?
She was really sweet and wonderful. I'm not even sure that she knew what she was getting into when she got there because she's used to [Alfred] Hitchcock and huge sets. I think it was a new experience for her, too. She's a veteran when it comes to just being there and connecting, but there were some points when she was just like: What's going on. We're just gonna sit on this lawn and talk? But she was great and supportive, and she really just wants the people around her to just rise up.
Are there actresses in your age group that you'd like to emulate careerwise?
That's interesting. My best friend in the world is Jessica Chastain, and it's been so interesting to watch her career take such a beautiful and respected path. So I guess I would have to say my best friend -- and I've gone with her to almost everything in the past year, like the Golden Globes and Cannes. We've traveled together because it's nice to have friends and people you know around in this world of fame. It's been really fascinating, beautiful, and exciting to watch that happen to someone that I've seen fight for it for a long time. It's not like she came into it suddenly -- she's been fighting for a decade. It's one of those deserved things.
It's always so great to see someone who's been fighting for their success finally have it.
Yes -- and that have the talent to do great and beautiful work.
How do you keep fighting to work in this industry, and what guidance would you offer those that are struggling to make it in the difficult world of entertainment?
It's one of those things that you just stick with if you love it. During the times when I wasn't working, I did have to think: I love this, but I have no idea what's going to happen. I have no idea how I'm going to support myself. I don't know what's going to happen, but I love this in my heart and soul, and if that's the feeling that somebody has about something, you may as well commit to it, even though it's a real pain in the ass sometimes.
It's rare that a script like Free Samples comes along. Do you think that there's a shortage of good films, or is it that they're not readily accessible?
I think it's a combination of both, and there's such a wealth of material out there. There's a lot being made. That's why I think these festivals are great. There are people like Geoffrey Gilmore who have been in the film world for decades, and they have a strong eye and they're used to watching lots of things and are looking for something new or looking for something that breaks the mold or just something that's very true and honest. Having those people out there who make it their job to try and find things to give more exposure. That's why I appreciate all these festivals giving these little movies a place.
The movie premiered last night. What's your take on how New Yorkers have responded to it?
I flew in last night and missed the premiere because I was shooting. I'm sort of still processing the fact that people are watching this movie. I've been really worried that people are going to think I'm such a meanie.
I don't think that's the case at all, especially toward the end of the film, it's really quite a revelation what ends up happening.
Especially during the last scene between you and newly suave Jesse Eisenberg!
Yeah! He's kind of sexy in this! It's like, Hold on, cutie pie!
I know! He's supposed to be socially awkward!
Yeah. It's like: You are not socially awkward at all. You are string forward. You're kind of cocky.
I really don't think there was a girl in the audience that didn't want to go to the Mexican restaurant that he invited you to. Do you think that Jill's willingness to maybe take a chance on him makes her more empathetic?
He just one of those guys that you're like: Well, I guess I'm attracted to you. We may as well give it a shot. He's pushy enough, which is good because Jillian is so resistant to letting anyone in and he's like, I'm getting in. And it's like: Ahhhhh. What's happening. [She laughs.]
A graduate of the NYU Media and Communications program, Justine has studied film and journalism in...