CS Interview: Kiersey Clemons on Only Living Boy & Flatliners
ComingSoon.net had a chance to chat with actress Kiersey Clemons (Dope) about her new romantic comedy The Only Living Boy in New York, in which she plays the love interest of Callum Turner. We also discussed her work on the upcoming Flatliners remake!
Amazon and Roadside Attractions’ comedy/drama The Only Living Boy in New York also stars Kate Beckinsale (Underworld), Pierce Brosnan (Goldeneye), Cynthia Nixon (Sex in the City), Callum Turner (Green Room) and Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart). It follows a recent college graduate adrift in New York City who seeks the guidance of an eccentric neighbor as his life is upended by his father’s mistress.
Directed by Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man, Gifted) from a screenplay by Allan Loeb (The Space Between Us, Just Go with It), The Only Living Boy in New York is now playing in select theaters.
ComingSoon.net: After “Baby Driver,” this is the second movie this summer that has the title taken from a Simon & Garfunkel song. You’re a musician yourself, do you have a favorite Simon & Garfunkel track?
Kiersey Clemons: Oooh. I don’t think I know the name of it, I am trying to remember. Someone gave me their record and I just got a record player too. I got it at the beginning of filming and it was a normal typical record — vinyl — and it was the only one that I had with me in New York and I think I had that, and The Temptations, and the White Album, and I would play it on repeat but I could not remember the name of any of the songs because I haven’t listened since I was in New York! It’s so funny because I just realized that I’m so used to remembering the name of songs because I look at them on my phone. It’s just one of the problems of my generation.You just taught me a big ole lesson.
CS: You have got to read the tracklist on the back of the vinyl sleeve!
Clemons: I know! You just called me the f*ck out.
CS: You and Callum have some great chemistry in this movie, even though his character is in the friend-zone for most of it. Did you guys hang out all at all prior to shooting to get a bit of that familiarity that Thomas and Mimi have?
Clemons: Yes, we got along very well. it’s so funny because you never know if you’re filming with someone, would they want to hang out? Is that how they work? And in our first rehearsal I came a bit late and when you first work with someone you think, “It’s late, I don’t want them to think I am hitting on them or something.” So I asked if he wanted to go out for coffee, and then he asked instead, “Do you want to do Karaoke?” And I was like yeah.
CS: Karaoke bonds everyone.
Clemons: So we went to the karaoke bar and we told them that our names were Thomas and Mimi and we drank and we sang songs like “I Got You Babe.” It was a good f**king time. He’s one of these great people, I love him.
CS: It was kind of cool to see people from the new generation doing this kind of movie. This is the kind of movie like Woody Allen and other people like him used to do a lot of.
Clemons: Very classic.
CS: Yes! Movies about that Upper West Side, New York Literati. Nowadays it seems like that world, that literary world is sort of disappearing. Books are kind of disappearing too. Do you think that this movie reflects that?
Clemons: I think so definitely and I feel like this movie is a good example of that. Because when I read the script to “The Only Living Boy in New York” on paper, I felt like I was reading a book, not a script. In my mind I was envisioning all the colors and all the people and hearing all their different voices like how when you’re reading a novel or a book you do that. That was how I felt to read this script, the words stayed on the page. And it did not feel like anything crazy was happening. It was just a coming-of-age story, and I was so satisfied. There’s something satisfying about these classic New York roles. I was dying to be a part of that story and did what I could being a young woman of my generation and what it means to be in love or to be in that limbo place with somebody.
CS: Allan Loeb’s script was on the Blacklist years ago and it’s been around for a little bit, but did you bring any of your own input to Mimi, or did you keep it as it was on the page?
Clemons: It was a lot more about the relationship between Thomas and Mimi and how I assume that relationship that she has with him is different from her relationships with other people. And that’s what makes it kind of special. It was a lot of hearing out how well Thomas and Mimi knew each other. How long have they known each other? What is it that creates their connection? And how far have we gone emotionally and physically? What the audience does not see is so important for [the actors] to know. And I learned a lot about Mimi through learning how that relationship needs to be worked out. Allan allowed us to take the script and he put in Mark [Webb to direct] to really bring it to life.
CS: And your character works at the Argosy, one of the last legendary bookstores left here in New York City. Can you speak a little bit about your own relationship with books, and maybe which authors have had the biggest impact on you?
Clemons: It’s so funny because when you ask me that, the thing that came to my mind was Judy Blume. [Her books] were the first books I remember reading as a young girl and having all these questions from socializing, to your parents, and school, to your body. Judy Blume was like my best friend as a young girl. I love her so much and I fell in love with reading because of Judy Blume. Because at that time I realized, “Oh my God, it’s so weird that I’m actually reading words I feel like I’m not alone right now when I am, this is just paper and me.”
CS: Are you there God?
Clemons: It’s me Margaret.
CS: You have “Flatliners” next month, so what can you tell me about your character Sophia in that?
Clemons: I play Sophia, and she is the one in the group whose focus is less about doing well for herself. She’s not even doing well in school for herself, she’s doing it for the expectations of her parents, and rightfully so. I think her backstory is bad. Her grandparents probably came to America from the Caribbean and It feels to me that she has to fulfill everything that they had up for her for success. And she went through a lot of pressure, and her flatlining experience is a bit different from everybody else’s. She has the biggest breakthrough, I think also in the trailer you see that we all have something haunting us and I think her haunting is a really big reflection of how much she hasn’t lived for herself. And I really love that character and playing someone like that because I grew up feeling that way and it’s nice to go back and it’s interesting because I am playing a medical student and I’m like, “thank God”, now everyone is going to stop thinking I’m 13! I’m excited though I think it’s going to be a cool movie. I think it’s going to be what people want it to be, it’s cool. Flatlining is kind of like you’re introduced to your subconscious mind that feels like this trip, it feels like you have taken drugs. And I haven’t seen the movie yet, only bits and pieces but I think we really captured all of these curiosities that my generation has and what it means to be “woke” and what it means to go there.
The Only Living Boy in New York is now playing. Flatliners opens on September 29.