Video/Q&A: 'August: Osage County' co-stars Juliette Lewis and Julianne Nicholson

(Photo by Emily Schwartz )
January 08, 2014|Matt Pais, @mattpais | RedEye movie critic

After revisiting the Beastie Boys’ album “Ill Communication,” “August: Osage County” co-star Juliette Lewis recently tweeted, “Kanye’s got nothing on Beasties.” Surely she’s heard from Kanye by now, right?

“No!” exclaims Lewis. “Do you think he would get mad at that?”

“I’m pretty sure if he’s perceived as anywhere other than No. 1” says co-star Julianne Nicholson, “It’s not good.”

“I revere and think Kanye West is amazing and revolutionary as a musician,” clarifies Lewis. “So it was showing how great Beastie Boys were.”

In other words, she’s not just trying to stir up maximum drama after appearing in a film with as much drama as “August,” opening Jan. 10, in which a trio of sisters (Lewis, Nicholson and Julia Roberts) is at the center of a constantly bickering family that comes together when dad (Sam Shepard) disappears. “August” co-stars Meryl Streep, Ewan McGregor and many more and comes from Chicagoan Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which debuted at Steppenwolf in 2007.

At the Four Seasons Hotel, Lewis ("Natural Born Killers"), 40, and Nicholson ("Boardwalk Empire"), 42, talked about feeling guilty around cops, if Streep ever has a bad take and why rage sometimes can be funny.

You guys have talked about this movie being something people can see and say, “At least my family’s not that crazy.” What if someone sees “August: Osage County” and says, “Uh oh, that’s exactly my family”?
Julianne Nicholson: Poor them.
Juliette Lewis: You’re like, “They’re still living?”I think what’s great about this is you will see seeds of not necessarily your family but family dynamics. The awkward speeches at a table. Everyone I know is touched by addiction in some way or another, whether it’s a distant cousin or an uncle. So there’s that theme. How you can have three sisters—we play sisters—deal with their parents’ abuse, neglect and upbringing so differently.
JN: I think birth order is such an interesting thing, where you fall in the family and how that informs your whole life really. Also keeping secrets. Don’t do it. [Laughs]
JL: Yeah, a lot of people deal with how we cover things and what we choose to reveal with our family.

How good are you at keeping secrets?
JL: I’m terrible.
JN: I think I’m pretty bad at it also. I think I’m flushing just thinking about keeping a secret.

It’s like when a cop drives by and you’re not speeding, but you feel like you are.
JN: I panic. I think I’m breaking a law. If I see a policeman, I’m pretty sure I’m doing something wrong. Always I think I’ve stolen something and when I walk out of a store, I think, “Did I steal anything?” In case the alarm goes off. I didn’t steal anything.

That’s something that someone who stole something would say.
JN: [Laughs] “I swear, officer!”

Everyone in the cast sings the praises of Meryl Streep, but even LeBron James has an off game. Do you think even the best actors have off takes?
JN: That was not my experience watching Meryl.
JL: We didn’t see it.
JN: She may feel that way about her own work, but watching her, I never [thought], “Oh man, she messed that one up.” That never happened.

“That sucked, Meryl!”
JN: “Do you want to take that one again, Ms. Streep?” She’s amazing. Every time she opens her mouth, it’s magic.
JL: In one way or another, it’s pretty spectacular.

That seems like it would be pretty rare.
JL: Yeah. The best pretty much are always striving for a level of honesty. Can there be an off game? I’m sure.

Do you guys have takes where after it’s over you say, “Oh, that was not the one.”
JL: Yeah, 100,000 percent. What, are you kidding? ‘Cause you’re always striving for better than great.

I was curious if the movie is cynical about marriage or just these people in the institution, which brings up: Should we hate the player or the game?
JL: [Laughs] Your questions! Who is your demographic?

JL: Who is your editor? Let me talk to him.

Because it’s good or bad?
JN: It’s excellent.
JL: You’re making me laugh; I love it. Laughter is a good thing. The player or the game? [Laughs]
JN: About marriage? I’m too old to understand that question.

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