In Nacho Vigalando's Colossal, Anne Hathaway's character, Gloria, isn't portrayed as the typical movie drunk. Rather than spending the film getting totally plastered and partying all night, Gloria's personal journey with alcohol is much more focused on the passing out, forgetfulness, and regret. It's a different and notable choice that the monster comedy makes, but it comes from an understandable place: the writer/director is just a lot more interested in characters getting hangovers than being wild. Vigalando recently explained to me an in interview,
I don't feel attracted to the cinematic aspect of being drunk on camera. I feel much more attracted to the hangover. For me the hangover sounds much funnier than being drunk! For me, I don't actually enjoy asking people to act drunk. It's this kind of comedy that pops up sometimes. I prefer people when drunk on camera they are just slower, sloppy. Not drunk. But what I really enjoy is being hungover - the hangover on camera. I really enjoy those sequences.
Earlier this week, both Nacho Vigalando and Anne Hathaway participated in the Los Angeles press day for Colossal, and when I had the pleasure of sitting down with them our first topic of conversation was the film's depiction of alcohol abuse. I specifically noted that the movie doesn't feature any of the trope-ish Hollywood drunk scenes where Gloria drinks way too much and goes crazy, and the filmmaker clearly explained why we see the character primarily in the morning after.
Adding to Vigalando's comments, Anne Hathaway also explained that she just didn't see Gloria as that kind of an alcoholic. Sure, she does drink too much and her life is negatively affected as a result, but it's less about crazy partying and more about a totally screwed up sleep cycle that finds her waking up on park benches and hard wood floors. Said the actress,
I think not every drunk is that way. And I think you're right, that's totally the cinematic way, you get up and make a fool of yourself. What happens if you're sort of a low-stakes drunk where you just sort of never go to sleep? You don't actually fall asleep, you just pass out, and then you wake up, and you're just in that cycle... there's a full spectrum of drunks in the world, and this is one of them! This is an underserved representation of drunks.
Further adding to the Colossal conversation, Nacho Vigalando added another point: while there are plenty of people who tell Gloria that she needs to get her act together, there is no specific use of the word "alcoholism" specifically because that really wasn't a part of the narrative that he wanted to tell with the film. Going back and forth, Vigalando and Hathaway told me,
Nacho Vigalando: That's one of the reasons we never mentioned the word 'alcoholism' in the film. We don't even say 'alcohol' [is the problem]... We're not trying to make a cautionary tale about alcoholism because it doesn't work that way.
Anne Hathaway: It's funny, two people I was doing interviews back to back, 'She's a mess, she's a mess!' And I'm like, 'That's harsh!' And then somebody said that she's 'struggling,' and I was like, 'Yeah, exactly, like we all do.'
Written and directed by Nacho Vigalando, Colossal begins with Gloria really at the height of her struggles, as her long nights and jobless-ness lead her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) to kick her out of their shared New York apartment. Moving back to her hometown, she starts to try and get her life sorted out again -- taking a job with a childhood friend (Jason Sudeikis) at the local bar -- but finds all of those plans go to hell when news breaks out that a giant monster has invaded Seoul, South Korea. What makes the situation all the weirder is that the monster is actually directly connected to Gloria, only appearing when she is at the local playground at 8:05 in the morning.
You can watch Anne Hathaway and Nacho Vigalando discuss their approach to Gloria's dealings with alcohol by hitting play on the video below.