Q: Now that the accolades are starting to come in, what does it mean for you to get a Golden Globe or Independent Spirit nomination? Does it mean more people will come and see the film?
A: Yes, totally. You know that. Because of the resistance that you, yourself, were expressing, you need award nominations to tell people, “It’s okay to go with this movie to that dark place.” You need people to say, “This is a performance you can’t miss.” That is necessary for this type of film in this day and age.
Q: Nicole has been nominated for a Golden Globe, and her performance is generating Oscar buzz. Tell me what she brings to a project.
A: Well, I didn’t really know her beforehand, and we weren’t palling around so much. It was very businesslike. But it was also very tender. We are similar people in that we are both very self-sufficient. We have our own lives. We create our own environments of creativity, and we interacted for this one because she went on impulse. She heard me talking about the story and realized how moved I was. She didn’t say this, but I wasn’t the first choice for directing Rabbit Hole. I wasn’t a safe choice, meaning I hadn’t directed anything onscreen like this before. She heard how I wanted to direct this with an invisible directorial hand, and she heard that I related to the story, having lost a brother. She also knew that I directed actors really well. In some ways, all of my films are about strong feminine characters who are trapped in a prison of their emotions who are desperately trying to get out. And she is a consummate professional. You can also see the overly tall junior-high girl that she probably was — the odd girl out — in all of her roles. We usually see the incredibly popular, luminous, queen-bee presence that she definitely gives off in person, too. But of course behind that is the oddball girl that she probably was that made it necessary for her to become an actress. [Laughs] She’s a freak like me.