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Merritt Wever & Leslie Zemeckis Interview: Welcome to Marwen

Merritt Wever is an accomplished actress who has worked on multiple television shows and films.  She is known to many television viewers as nurse Zoey Barkow from Nurse Jackie, for which she won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.  Wever’s latest film is Welcome to Marwen, directed by Robert Zemeckis.  In it, she plays Roberta, a friend of Steve Carell’s character Mark who works at the toy shop where he buys his models.

Leslie Zemeckis is an actress and documentary film director, who has appeared in such films as The Polar Express, Beowulf, and A Christmas Carol. In Welcome to Marwen, she plays Suzette, Mark's favorite actress.

Screen Rant: Amazing job on the film. It's a really innovative and it's a great story. Talk to me about the [motion capture] performance because it's just you guys in a room with no props and--

Leslie Zemeckis: No, you do have props. Minimal props. But also, when you see it in the jeep, we're in a mockup of a jeep. So, you're not… People think you're just out there in this weird world with nothing. I mean you do have props, you have a table, you've got all that.

Merritt Wever: Yeah. And we were able to, after doing a take, go to a separate monitor and see this halfway rough version of what we were going to look like in the world. What the scene, the backdrop was, things like that.

Leslie Zemeckis: And there was mockups of all—

Merritt Wever: The dolls.

Leslie Zemeckis: The town, the sets, everywhere we were going to be. The great thing for an actor is you just do the scene from beginning to end. And you're not so restricted.

Screen Rant: But talk to me about how Robert kind of helps with that. Because from what I was told from Steve, he helps design that world. And he tells you exactly each point. So, talk to me about that.

Merritt Wever: I know what Steve's answers to all these questions are. Then I want to steal them. Oh, he's in this hotel somewhere. Sorry.

Leslie Zemeckis: No, I mean he really sets it up. What the world is, what it means, the look of it. “Do you have any questions?” You're not just thrown out there on this gray big volume and act. He really sets it up so you're comfortable and you know what you're doing.

Screen Rant: He knows. He has it all in his mind and he's very generous with sharing it with you.

Leslie Zemeckis: It’s not like he goes, “Don't worry about it. It'll look great later.”

Screen Rant: But what was it about this project that drew you into it? Because it is quite an amazing project.

Leslie Zemeckis: I think it's the heart of the story. It was just such a beautiful story. It's like I really wanted to be a part of it. Especially with such strong women. All of them in a camaraderie of women, which I really like and I really appreciate.

Merritt Wever: We had a great group of women.

Screen Rant: Now, Merritt, you play the shop owner. And also, the one that supplies Mark with all of his hobby needs. Can you talk to me about their relationship in the film and how that character is different from when they're in Marwen?

Merritt Wever: Yeah, the character is very different. But Roberta works at the local hobby shop and knows Mark from him coming in to buy supplies and stuff. And thinks he's great. And thinks what he makes is great. And thinks that he should get out in the world and maybe experiment with sharing his art with the world.

Screen Rant: It's amazing. And also, seeing Mark’s actual photos come to life is incredible to me. Because it's a whole other story. But speaking of that, did you base your character off of like anybody specifically or draw from any influences at all?

Merritt Wever: How much research did you do?

Leslie Zemeckis: I did a lot.

Merritt Wever: Yeah? Did you watch--? Yeah. Never mind.

Leslie Zemeckis: Yeah, I actually did watch the documentary. It was great.

Screen Rant: Yeah, it’s amazing. And just the MOCAP performance in general, how difficult was that? Because this is, from what I read at least, it was almost kind of done in reverse. Where usually they do the special effects on the back end in post-production. But this was done upfront and there was a challenge. So, can you talk to me about that?

Leslie Zemeckis: But I don't think it was us, honest. As actors, because we don't know what they're doing. They're out there doing that and that unit. So, I can't even wrap my head around that. So, us, it was just act.

Merritt Wever: Yeah. But before we-- I remember it now. Before we shot, we went and stood in the middle of all those cameras.

Leslie Zemeckis: You get scanned.

Merritt Wever: So, they can read what you look like and make your doll. So, it was, for me who doesn't usually work on movies like this, preproduction heavy. That was new. That was so new.

Screen Rant: It's amazing, great job. You guys knocked down at the park. Thank you.

Leslie Zemeckis: Thank you.

Merritt Wever: Thank you so much.

More: Leslie Mann Interview for Welcome to Marwen

Key Release Dates
  • Welcome to Marwen (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
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