Maybe Amanda Peet is psychic. That’s how I felt, at least, when near the end of her roundtable interview she confessed to a crush on an actor a fellow journalist and I had been discussing before she even walked in the room. Or—probably more likely—James McAvoy is a universally lovable actor, and Amanda Peet is, to steal a phrase from US Weekly, just like us. An instantly ingratiating presence on screens small and large, Peet has spent the last few years acting against some of the biggest names around, from Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson in Something’s Gotta Give to Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. She can now put John Cusack on that list twice, having worked with him in 2003’s Identity and now again in Martian Child, a drama about a man struggling to raise a most unusual boy. As a friend and potential love interest of Cusack’s David, Peet’s Harlee helps him with the troubles of raising a child, from picking out the appropriate Gap clothes to eventually learning to love this strange child.

What attracted you to this movie?
I really loved the script, I thought it was really sweet, smart, and I love John. It was kind of a no-brainer.

What was it like reuniting with him after Identity?
It was fun, even though he cracked my back and I had to get a chiropractor. When he hugs me he always cracks my back. We had to have a chiropractor come because I couldn’t move.

What’s he like on set? Do you guys goof around?
He’s such a goofball. He has both sides—he can very serious, but he’s quite goofy, yeah.

Were you an outcast as a child?
I think once I was in high school—I had boyfriends and stuff like that, but I think when I was younger, I went through a period where I looked like a boy, and people thought I was a boy. I guess I was really scarred by that.

I keep reading the story about when you were three years old you jumped onstage during a performance. What play was that?
It was a children’s play, so I guess in that regard it was a little less embarrassing.

Was it on Broadway?
I don’t think so. I was there with my sister, and it was a children’s play. They said a phrase that my sister and I had been saying for a while. We made a song called ‘I beg your pardon.’ Then someone onstage said ‘I beg your pardon.’ I went running up on stage, and my mom was mortified.

Do you have any plans or ambitions to go back to Broadway? [Peet starred with Patrick Wilson in a 2006 revival of Neil Simon’sBarefoot in the Park.
Yeah, I hope so, if they’ll have me after what happened.

What happened?
We just got really bad reviews. I didn’t read them, but I heard.

I was there, I loved it. I took my mom on Mother’s Day.
Oh, that’s so sweet of you. That sounds like a good Mother’s Day. Yeah, I’m dying to go back and do a play. Broadway’s hard, you know, it’s really tough.

Would you do a musical?
I would do a musical, but I can’t sing.

How did you feel about your character’s relationship to John’s character in the book?
I thought it was really sweet. She gives him a different perspective, because she’s not very practical, she’s very optimistic and not a worrywart. That’s a good perspective for a new parent.

What was the toughest scene to film?
I don’t think anything was really tough for me. Probably the first one, the cemetery scene, because the first one is always really awkward.

What did you think of your outfits in the film? They seemed to say a lot about the character.
I thought they were fun. She’s supposed to be not really very conventional, certainly not very officious and not very put-together.

What did you think of Bobby Coleman?
I thought he was amazing. So sweet, so great, so natural. Your character is very Zen in the film. Are you like that?
No, I’m not Zen. You can ask my husband. I really wish I were, but I’d be lying if I told you I was.

How did this movie make you feel about wanting to have kids?
Well, I have an 8-month old daughter.

What are you going to do with her for Halloween?
She’s going to be a cow, because we love that Bob Dylan song “Frog Went a-Courtin’.” We sing that too her a lot. One of the animals that comes a-courtin’ is Mrs. Cow, who tried to dance and she didn’t know. So she’ll be Mrs. Cow.

Is it just a coincidence in timing that this role, about parenting, coincided with you becoming a parent? Or is this something you’re gravitating toward?
I think when you’re a bigger star you get many good scripts sent to you, and you have to choose which one you’re going to gravitate toward, but I just try to gravitate toward the best-written one that’s been thrown my way after a lot of girls have passed on it. That’s really the truth. It’s not like I’m looking for roles about parenting, or I’m unconsciously attracted to doing a thriller right now, for some reason. There’s not that much forethought. I just try to get something that’s respectable.

What are you working on right now?
I’m going to do a movie in Boston called Real Men Cry with Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke. Then I’m going to do a Nicole Holofcener movie with Catherine Keener.

There’s so few female directors in Hollywood, and you worked with Nancy Meyers on Something’s Gotta Give as well. What was that like?
I love Nancy. She sure does a lot of takes. But it was an amazing experience, and it was so amazing to be around Diane. I got to be with Jack a little bit, but mostly around Diane.

What was tougher, being Diane’s daughter or Jack Nicholson’s love interest?
I think it was harder being around Diane, because I just know her work more. I just watched her movies repeatedly.

Did you talk to her before you worked on Melinda and Melinda [Woody Allen’s film]?
Yes, I called her and I was like ‘How can I not get fired?’

How do you not get fired?
She just said ‘Don’t be fussy, don’t go on about your character and who she really is and what her childhood was like and her context throughout the trajectory of the film.’ Don’t say anything, just go to work and be quiet.

So what was Menno Meyjes like as a director on this project?
He’s just very intimate, he’s very into talking. Totally the opposite of what I just described.

Is it daunting for you to change what you do for different directors?
No, I think it’s kind of fun.

Do you have any dream people you hope to work with in the future?
My husband, David Benioff.

Is he going to write a role for you?
He says he’s going to, but I just don’t believe it.

What’s the novel he’s working on about?
It’s called City of Thieves, and it’s about two boys in the siege of Leningrad. They go to look for egg for the colonel’s daughter. There’s no fucking part for me in, that’s really the point of what I want to say.

I thought he was taking your input.
No, he’s not. He’s not taking any input from me. But I would like to work with—I’m going to work with Catherine Keener, so that’s a big dream of mine. And I’m going to work with Nicole Holofcener, that’s a big dream come true. I’d love to work with Sean Penn. I’d love to work with Joan Cusack again—I’m obsessed with Joan Cusack. Genius. Tina Fey—these are just people that I feel right now. John Hamm, from Mad Men. Anyone watching Mad Men? Holy shit! You guys all look really blank, like you’re not watching it.

I don’t get Showtime.
You’ve gotta get it. You’re crazy. It’s so genius. It’s the best thing on television. I want to work with him. I want to work with James McAvoy, but don’t tell my husband that.

We were just talking about how we love him. [She makes a face that indicates she shares our love].
He’s actually in State of Play, the BBC series that they’re basing a movie on. That’s when I started my affair with him.

Does he know about it?
No, he doesn’t know. My husband makes fun of me.

Since you’re worked with Joan Cusack and Frances McDormand, who have also worked with Nicole Holofcener, did you call them up for advice?
No, because I’m not as scared with Nicole. I’m scared, but I think she’s a lot more communicative with Woody. With Woody I was really scared because of all these reasons. With Nicole I know that she’ll tell me when I’m sucking probably before firing me, so that way I can try to quickly be better. Did you know Joan Cusack before you worked on this film?
No, but I’ve definitely been obsessed with the movie Broadcast News my whole life. What is it about her that you love so much?
She’s just such a fag. She’s just so dorky and she’s so un-vain, and she’s so real. I don’t know who rivals her really—Carol Burnett? She has such longing as well, she’s so real—that’s what I mean by fag.

How was it working while you were pregnant on Studio 60?
They were so sweet, and they really protected me all the time. They just were amazing. They all called my ‘fatty’ and made fun of me all the time, but they were joking. They were very supportive. I was like ‘I’m really tired,’ and they’d be like ‘OK, let’s wrap it up.’ I’m like ‘Wow, this is great.’

Do you want to try TV again?
Yeah, if Aaron Sorkin would write me something, I would do anything.

Maybe Amanda Peet is psychic. That’s how I felt, at least, when near the end of her roundtable interview, she confessed to a crush on an actor a fellow journalist and I had been discussing before she even walked in the room. Or—probably more likely—James McAvoy is a universally lovable actor, and Amanda Peet is, to steal a phrase from US Weekly, just like us. An instantly ingratiating presence on screens small and large, Peet has spent the last few years acting against some of the biggest actors around, from Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson in Something’s Gotta Give to Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. She can now put John Cusack on that list twice, having worked with him in 2003’s Identity and now again in The Martian Child, a drama about a man struggling to raise a most unusual child. As a friend and potential love interest of Cusack’s David, Peet’s Harlee helps him with the troubles of raising a child, from picking out the appropriate Gap clothes to eventually learning to love this strange child.

What attracted you to this movie?
I really loved the script, I thought it was really sweet, smart, and I love John. It was kind of a no-brainer.

What was it like reuniting with him after Identity?
It was fun, even though he cracked my back and I had to get a chiropractor. When he hugs me he always cracks my back. We had to have a chiropractor come because I couldn’t move.

What’s he like on set? Do you guys goof around?
He’s such a goofball. He has both sides—he can very serious, but he’s quite goofy, yeah.

Were you an outcast as a child?
I think once I was in high school—I had boyfriends and stuff like that, but I think when I was younger, I went through a period where I looked like a boy, and people thought I was a boy. I guess I was really scarred by that.

I keep reading the story about when you were three years old you jumped onstage during a performance. What play was that?
It was a children’s play, so I guess in that regard it was a little less embarrassing.

Was it on Broadway?
I don’t think so. I was there with my sister, and it was a children’s play. They said a phrase that my sister and I had been saying for a while. We made a song called ‘I beg your pardon.’ Then someone onstage said ‘I beg your pardon.’ I went running up on stage, and my mom was mortified.

Do you have any plans or ambitions to go back to Broadway? [Peet starred with Patrick Wilson in a 2006 revival of Neil Simon’sBarefoot in the Park.
Yeah, I hope so, if they’ll have me after what happened.

What happened?
We just got really bad reviews. I didn’t read them, but I heard.

I was there, I loved it. I took my mom on Mother’s Day.
Oh, that’s so sweet of you. That sounds like a good Mother’s Day. Yeah, I’m dying to go back and do a play. Broadway’s hard, you know, it’s really tough.

Would you do a musical?
I would do a musical, but I can’t sing.

How did you feel about your character’s relationship to John’s character in the book?
I thought it was really sweet. She gives him a different perspective, because she’s not very practical, she’s very optimistic and not a worrywart. That’s a good perspective for a new parent.

What was the toughest scene to film?
I don’t think anything was really tough for me. Probably the first one, the cemetery scene, because the first one is always really awkward.

What did you think of your outfits in the film? They seemed to say a lot about the character.
I thought they were fun. She’s supposed to be not really very conventional, certainly not very officious and not very put-together.

What did you think of Bobby Coleman?
I thought he was amazing. So sweet, so great, so natural. Your character is very Zen in the film. Are you like that?
No, I’m not Zen. You can ask my husband. I really wish I were, but I’d be lying if I told you I was.

How did this movie make you feel about wanting to have kids?
Well, I have an 8-month old daughter.

What are you going to do with her for Halloween?
She’s going to be a cow, because we love that Bob Dylan song “Frog Went a-Courtin’.” We sing that too her a lot. One of the animals that comes a-courtin’ is Mrs. Cow, who tried to dance and she didn’t know. So she’ll be Mrs. Cow.

Is it just a coincidence in timing that this role, about parenting, coincided with you becoming a parent? Or is this something you’re gravitating toward?
I think when you’re a bigger star you get many good scripts sent to you, and you have to choose which one you’re going to gravitate toward, but I just try to gravitate toward the best-written one that’s been thrown my way after a lot of girls have passed on it. That’s really the truth. It’s not like I’m looking for roles about parenting, or I’m unconsciously attracted to doing a thriller right now, for some reason. There’s not that much forethought. I just try to get something that’s respectable.

What are you working on right now?
I’m going to do a movie in Boston called Real Men Cry with Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke. Then I’m going to do a Nicole Holofcener movie with Catherine Keener.

There’s so few female directors in Hollywood, and you worked with Nancy Meyers on Something’s Gotta Give as well. What was that like?
I love Nancy. She sure does a lot of takes. But it was an amazing experience, and it was so amazing to be around Diane. I got to be with Jack a little bit, but mostly around Diane.

What was tougher, being Diane’s daughter or Jack Nicholson’s love interest?
I think it was harder being around Diane, because I just know her work more. I just watched her movies repeatedly.

Did you talk to her before you worked on Melinda and Melinda [Woody Allen’s film]?
Yes, I called her and I was like ‘How can I not get fired?’

How do you not get fired?
She just said ‘Don’t be fussy, don’t go on about your character and who she really is and what her childhood was like and her context throughout the trajectory of the film.’ Don’t say anything, just go to work and be quiet.

So what was Menno Meyjes like as a director on this project?
He’s just very intimate, he’s very into talking. Totally the opposite of what I just described.

Is it daunting for you to change what you do for different directors?
No, I think it’s kind of fun.

Do you have any dream people you hope to work with in the future?
My husband, David Benioff.

Is he going to write a role for you?
He says he’s going to, but I just don’t believe it.

What’s the novel he’s working on about?
It’s called City of Thieves, and it’s about two boys in the siege of Leningrad. They go to look for egg for the colonel’s daughter. There’s no fucking part for me in, that’s really the point of what I want to say.

I thought he was taking your input.
No, he’s not. He’s not taking any input from me. But I would like to work with—I’m going to work with Catherine Keener, so that’s a big dream of mine. And I’m going to work with Nicole Holofcener, that’s a big dream come true. I’d love to work with Sean Penn. I’d love to work with Joan Cusack again—I’m obsessed with Joan Cusack. Genius. Tina Fey—these are just people that I feel right now. John Hamm, from Mad Men. Anyone watching Mad Men? Holy shit! You guys all look really blank, like you’re not watching it.

I don’t get Showtime.
You’ve gotta get it. You’re crazy. It’s so genius. It’s the best thing on television. I want to work with him. I want to work with James McAvoy, but don’t tell my husband that.

We were just talking about how we love him. [She makes a face that indicates she shares our love].
He’s actually in State of Play, the BBC series that they’re basing a movie on. That’s when I started my affair with him.

Does he know about it?
No, he doesn’t know. My husband makes fun of me.

Since you’re worked with Joan Cusack and Frances McDormand, who have also worked with Nicole Holofcener, did you call them up for advice?
No, because I’m not as scared with Nicole. I’m scared, but I think she’s a lot more communicative with Woody. With Woody I was really scared because of all these reasons. With Nicole I know that she’ll tell me when I’m sucking probably before firing me, so that way I can try to quickly be better. Did you know Joan Cusack before you worked on this film?
No, but I’ve definitely been obsessed with the movie Broadcast News my whole life. What is it about her that you love so much?
She’s just such a fag. She’s just so dorky and she’s so un-vain, and she’s so real. I don’t know who rivals her really—Carol Burnett? She has such longing as well, she’s so real—that’s what I mean by fag.

How was it working while you were pregnant on Studio 60?
They were so sweet, and they really protected me all the time. They just were amazing. They all called my ‘fatty’ and made fun of me all the time, but they were joking. They were very supportive. I was like ‘I’m really tired,’ and they’d be like ‘OK, let’s wrap it up.’ I’m like ‘Wow, this is great.’

Do you want to try TV again?
Yeah, if Aaron Sorkin would write me something, I would do anything.

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