Interview: Rachel Getting Married's Rosemarie DeWitt

Rosemarie DeWitt is probably best known for her role as mistress Midge on AMC’s Mad Men, but after the release of Rachel Getting Married you can be sure that we’ll be seeing her face on the big screen more often. In the film DeWitt plays a fairly frosty, emotionally drained WASP who’s strained relationship with her sister makes for a very uptight wedding. And, DeWitt wants us to know, she is totally not like that in real life!

The Indian wedding ceremony in the film is very unusual for the upper-middle class east coast set. What do you think about it?

I thought it was very ironic actually. I went into it thinking, “Why an Indian wedding?” But instead of asking I went with it and when I saw the finished product I thought it was ironic. I don’t think the character was serious about it as I was playing it.

Can you talk about working with Anne Hathaway and what she brought to the film?

She felt no obligation to be likeable or polite and she did that on day one. She came in and was all up in my face. She just took up so much space that I felt like there was no oxygen in the room. But that fit the dynamic; it was all in. Not that she’s like that as a person but she and I didn’t spend a lot of time together before. It may not have been conscious but I think it was helpful because these two women are awkward. They wish they were best friends but they’re not. When I watched the film, the only time the sisters are truly aligned is in the last scene with Debra Winger. If I had spent time with Anne and had breakfast with her I would’ve liked her too much and wouldn’t have been able to be terrible to her in the next scene.

In the last scene of the movie, did you get the feeling that the Kym character is going back to rehab because she wants to? Did your character know that? My sense of it when I read the script was that Kym had been released back into the wild in time for my character’s wedding. I don’t know what Jonathan’s idea was, but it was a surprise to me that she went back to rehab. In the original script, and I don’t think it actually works, she borrows a character’s car to go back to the train station. She needs to get out and face her own destiny, which may not be in line with everyone else wants for her. I like it, a lot. I think it was more that she made the decision than it was made for her. Either way, it works.

Can you talk about your reaction when you first saw the film as a viewer? Did you feel it was sisters’ story or did you feel it was more Kym’s? Or Rachel’s?

Reading the script I felt like it was all Kym’s story. I thought there was an incredible family dynamic but I didn’t see it as an ensemble. But when I met with Jonathan about it, he said that he really saw at the heart of it the two sisters. The title of it used to be “Dancing With Shiva”, which is a shout out to Kym. I do think of it now as an ensemble. What I was most moved by as a viewer was Kym’s struggle to forgive herself. Not that I didn’t find many inroads into the family stuff. Because I was inside Rachel, I was really quite a bitch. I had a very difference experience of the story as a viewer but as an actor, you have to think that it’s your story, to think it’s your life. The stakes have to be that high.

Can you talk about inhabiting the character a bit? Was it difficult to let her go after a day of shooting?

Not like in any kind of awful way. In a way that I was happy to never fully let go of it because it would still be there the next day. With this character, my shoulders started all uptight. I thought that during the wedding scene I would let go of everything and relax. But it didn’t happen and I was so bummed. It was supposed to be this big release. It was only in the last scene when Rachel waves goodbye to Kym that I felt myself relaxing.

So nobody in the film got together and partied at the end of the day?

Not so much. Maybe once or twice we’d have a glass of wine with Jonathan. At the wrap party I was getting drunk and saying, “I’m not Rachel!” I thought Rachel was really square and everyone else was so hip and cool. And I’m not that dorky.

Was there a lot of room for improvisation in the film?

I heard Jonathan say that the movie was 90% scripted and 10% something extra. But I want to emphasize that it really was all in the script. It’s not one of those improv movies where the really cool scenes are all made up lines. It’s not the case. We didn’t need it.