When I was at the Sundance Film Festival this year, I had the opportunity to see two Brit Marling movies. Another Earth wowed me with her captivating performance, within the story of a duplicate earth discovered in the sky, and then Sound of My Voice showed me a whole other side of her. Fox Searchlight is releasing both films, beginning with Another Earth. I met Marling, with her Sound of My Voice director Zal Batmanglij in Austin for SXSW. Now I’m getting to know Marling as Another Earth opens, and I hope you’ll all be as impressed with her as I am.
Crave Online: When was this beautiful Another Earth poster made?
Brit Marling: Searchlight made this poster and Mike [Cahill, director] and I, oh my gosh, every time we’d go to visit Searchlight, we’re just pinching ourselves, like is this real? Because everything they do is beautiful. The trailer they made, for a film that’s really hard to articulate what the story is. When Mike and I used to pitch it back in the day, people would be like, “What’s the story?” And it’s like, “Well, okay, there’s this girl and this guy and they’re connected by this accident but then there’s this other earth.” There’s a lot of high concept and then small human drama happening. It’s a hard thing to articulate. They made this trailer that I think is really chilling and says enough but also leaves a lot to mystery. They’re the most gifted people at what they do. There isn’t anybody better. We feel really lucky to be there.
Crave Online: What’s the Sound of My Voice poster going to be?
Brit Marling: I don’t know. You saw the poster at Sundance. The Sundance poster, which Zal created with his friend Vincent, who’s a great photographer, was Maggie with the hood on and she’s got the oxygen tubes hanging out of her nose. It’s really creepy and unsettling because you’re like, “Wait, this girl looks like she’s really young. You can tell from this part in her hair that she’s young but she’s got oxygen tubes.” I don’t know, I’m sure Searchlight will design a lot of different posters and have a lot of great ideas. They have such an amazing group of really creative graphic artists and designers. Everybody on their team is so cool that I’m sure they’ll come up with a lot of really amazing things. I can’t wait to see what they come up with. I can’t wait to see what the trailer will be for that film.
Crave Online: Did you have fun thinking of ideas like, “Do you think the other planet calls themselves Earth 2?”
Brit Marling: Totally. Totally and Mike is so good at that. Mike has a mind for science. He really thought in great depth about everything. I had to ground a lot of these fantastical premises in some sort of scientific reality. We both would just have so much fun riffing on what would happen in the world. Would gravity be suspended? Would the tides draw out? Would you be able to find ships that had been submerged forever and now the treasure is found. How would animals react to it? By the change of gravity, would dogs be barking all the time. Would people be building shelters in the earth? What would happen? We didn’t exactly have the budget to execute all those things but they were all dreamt of anyway.
Crave Online: My science friends said another planet that close would be catastrophic. Did you come up with artistic justifications for it?
Brit Marling: Yeah, in the story we’d always imagined that the other earth was in superior conjunction behind the sun. So it’s always been there, it’s just that we’ve been rotating like this and so we’ve never seen what’s actually behind the sun. We don’t know. So then the idea was that an alignment of planets sort of draws it into a different orbital speed, trajectory. So you begin to see it as it’s coming closer and closer and closer and then it stops. It maintains its distance which, thankfully for our film, is within traveling distance from the Saturn 5 rocket. Yeah, we’re bending so many of the rules but there’s truth in it too. Brian Greene wrote a book about multiverse theory. He’s an astrophysicist that really believes that it is actually not just possible, but quite probable and likely that there are multiple duplicates of this universe and of this earth and of me and you. He has very sound ideas in physics for arriving at that conclusion so it is actually quite possible. That’s the crazy thing about it.
Crave Online: When you’re writing new scripts, can you maintain the same creative space you had before these two movies?
Brit Marling: I think so. It’s a good question but I think so and I think the reason why is because I think we can hold each other all to it. I think the thing about your work beginning to enter the world that’s exciting is that you get to meet a lot of other great collaborators, other actors, other people who’ll be in costume design and makeup and lights and sound, all these things. A movie is such a deeply collaborative art form. That’s one of the things that’s awesome about it. It’s one of the things that’s terrifying too and makes it very hard to begin, but you’re always looking for other collaborators and I think what’s great about your work entering the world is that you begin to find those collaborators with greater ease because you’re meeting more people who also love to make movies and then hopefully you’ll go make other movies together.
Crave Online: You know I like Another Earth, but Sound of my Voice is the one I can’t stop thinking about.
Brit Marling: Really? What does it make you think about.
Crave Online: That’s the analysis I have to figure out. Maybe because it’s open ended, there’s more questions.
Brit Marling: I think Sound of My Voice is a deeply unsettling film. I think Zal and I were both interested in that idea when we were writing. The idea behind it was always how, in every scene, can you be like, “What? Is this really happening? How is this happening? I’ve never seen this before.” The movie’s playing on a lot of subconscious things that we’re afraid of. Blood dripping/drawn, cults, basements, being locked in. There’s a sense of claustrophobia and espionage. Being caught as a spy lying, intrigue. All these things are mixed around in there and I think it is an unsettling story that way. And certainly doesn’t have any easy answers. I think at the end, there are all kinds of different interpretations to what actually happened.