Interview: Motherhood's Anthony Edwards
If youíve read my interview with Katherine Dieckmann and Uma Thurman, you know Umaís parting words were ďLive long and prosper.Ē Apparently sheís not the only Star Trek fan in Motherhood. The first thing Anthony Edwards did when he sat down at the table was run his fingers over the metallic mesh table runner and say, ďThis is a little Star Trek-y.í What makes this whole Star Trek thing even stranger is that during my one-on-one with Dieckmann she told me she has no interest in sci-fi when it comes to writing.
Donít expect anymore out-of-this-world talk in this interview because Motherhood cannot be more different from Star Trek. Edwards plays Avery, the husband of the super-stressed mother of two Eliza (Thurman). Heís a loving father but a bit absentminded. Edwards may not be as forgetful as his character, but admits he has a little Avery in him, which is understandable considering how much he has on his plate.
On top of Motherhood, Edwards just wrapped the Rob Reiner comedy Flipped and plans to run the New York Marathon with the charity Shoe4Africa. The proceeds will go to building a childrenís hospital in Kenya. ER may be long gone, but Edwards still has some Dr. Greene in him!
How much are you like your character Avery?
Edwards: Same height. He has slightly less hair than I do. I think very much like, in that, you know, I mean I just related to the material. It seems like everything my wife had ever said to me. Like ĎWhat, are you forgetting everything?í And also, just that kind of relationship thing of how things happen when you have children and it gets messy and dirty and well-intentioned isnít always good enough and yet it is ultimately, but at times it just doesnít seem like it so expectations and frustrations get, get very dramatic. Also the thing that happens when youíre a parent is our world gets really focused. You know, if you donít step back and breathe or get a moment from it, you know, people end up beating their children. [Laughs] No! You know, bad analogy.
What were the best parts of working on a female dominated set?
Edwards: Itís just like being at home! I live in a very female dominated world. And happily because, you know, I think thatís kind of where we are culturally in what the kind of stories that weíre telling and whatís important now and maybe itís cause the organization I work with is about empowerment of women in Africa through sport and coming out of the fact that, you know, if youíre going to have a fundamental health or educational change in a continent like Africa, which needs so much, only through the leadership of women is that going to change. And thatís something that people Ė I mean, itís very topical. So the fact that Katherine Dieckmann was able to get the money to make this movie makes sense because this is something thatís important to us. What is the role of mothers and women in our world and how do we relate to them without first understanding them dramatically or letting them be part of the story? I mean, thatís how we start everything. You know, you take the stigma away by actually talking about it. Someone said, but like, are men going to go to this movie? The joke response is ĎYeah, if they want to get laid.í Like, who decides what movies youíre going to ultimately see? You know, in my world itís my wife. Thatís it. And itís okay, you donít lose anything for being a man if, you know, if thatís part of your life.
You have four children. Whatís been the hardest thing about parenting for you?
Edwards: For me the hardest thing is keeping my own prejudices and expectations out of it because you have Ė itís that thing of like not wanting to become your parents but you do, you have to in sense. Itís difficult to keep that perspective I think as a parent, to know your boundaries as to whatís good parenting or just projecting your own expectations on your kids. Thatís the hardest.
Have your kids seen the film?
Edwards: My daughter has. She was at Sundance with me. She liked it, a lot. She liked Minnie a lot. She was obsessed with Minnie. Itís all about Minnie.
Do you have a favorite scene in the movie?
Edwards: Not really, I mean, thereís so many like for different reasons and I just kind of Ė I love the music and spirit of it. I just like that it keeps moving without having to, like I said, hit you over the head with ĎDo you get it?í
Itís funny your wife gets to pick the movies you see. Obviously when it comes to picking the projects you work on, ultimately itís up to you.
Edwards: Whatís so obvious about that? [Laughs]
Is there anyone whoís been really influential when it comes to the projects you pick? Would you consider returning to series television or do you want to continue working on movies?
Edwards: You know, you never say never because before I did ER I always said Iíll never do a TV series, so thatís what I said. And I used to joke, Iíd say oh, well, when I have kids or something then maybe Iíd do it. My son was four months old and ER came up; it was like, oh, I get to stay home and work and that meant a lot to me then. But, you know, I Ė to me itís all about the material and what you read. And Iím always surprised. So Iíd rather, I kind of stay away from expectations and, you know, working has not been a big priority for me for the last seven years. So, I havenít been out there doggedly looking for what that great film is obviously because Iíve only done four of them in the last six years.
Was that a conscious decision?
Edwards: Yeah, very much. I just spent a lot of time on ER for that eight years, I also started working when I was 16, so by the time I left ER I was 40 years old, I had this incredible experience, my wife had this great company, we had four kids, it was like, letís go to New York and live for a while and make that the priority. And itís been great because you meet, you know, people in your life who very rarely do you meet someone who says they wish they spent less time with their kids when they were younger and itís all those Ė all those things come true. I cannot believe that my youngest is seven years old now and my sonís 15 like, thinking about college. Youíre like ĎWhat?í When the hell did that happen? And Iíve been around. It happens quickly being there.
Is it hard to break out of a character that youíve been in for eight years? I grew up watching ER and still look at you as Dr. Greene.
Edwards: Yeah, I mean, a lot of Dr. Greene was me obviously, the smart part, you know? The medical part. No, I mean, it was Ė itís the routine and the work that is hard to break out of. Thatís where I was kind of lost. Like, Iíd spent so much of my life focused on the work and the material, the script and the preparation and all of that that when you take that away then youíre like ĎWhere do I fit?í I kind of bounced around here in New York for two years going like ĎWho am I? Where am I?í Thatís probably more seductive than the character itself or more overwhelming. Itís kind of that work ritual, which I think everyone can relate to when youíre so locked into a job that that becomes your life.
Youíve done some great comedy movies; do you ever want to get back into that?
Edwards: Yeah, I did a fun one with Rob Reiner this summer called Flipped thatís a nice comedy, kids comedy. I do, yeah, definitely. I mean I did Thunderbirds, a totally ridiculous big silly kids movie. No one saw it but, you know, itís alright. I had fun doing it.
Being a New Yorker, did you ever find yourself frustrated with a movie shot like your character in Mothermood?
Edwards: You know, Iím, I so know how to avoid a set and get around it that, you know, itís not a Ė I donít find it a hassle at all. I find it Ė Iím on my bike anyway so I donít sit in a cab waiting for, you know, streets to clear cause movies Ė Iíd much rather be on the subway or on my bike to get around.
So no parking issues like in the movie?
Edwards: No, no. When I left L.A. I was like Iím not driving here. I spent years driving; forget it.
Do you have any projects coming up?
Edwards: Did Flipped, Iím running the marathon on the first of November for the children Ė weíre building a childrenís hospital in Africa. Itíll be the first public childrenís hospital in Kenya. And itís Ė itíll be the largest childrenís hospital, so Dr. Greene has come back to life to help build this hospital.
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