Hathaway, McKenzie anchor stylish adaptation of ‘Eileen’

Jan 21, 2023, 1:47 AM | Updated: Jan 22, 2023, 7:23 pm

              Anne Hathaway, left, and Thomasin McKenzie, cast members in "Eileen," pose together at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Anne Hathaway, a cast member in "Eileen," faces the press line at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Marin Ireland, a cast member in "Eileen," turns back for photographers at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Anne Hathaway, a cast member in "Eileen," poses at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Anne Hathaway, center, a cast member in "Eileen," works the press line at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              William Oldroyd, right, director/producer of "Eileen," poses with cast member Thomas McKenzie at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Thomasin McKenzie, right, a cast member in "Eileen," is interviewed at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Anne Hathaway, a cast member in "Eileen," turns back for photographers at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Anne Hathaway, left, and Thomas McKenzie, cast members in "Eileen," pose together at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Anne Hathaway, a cast member in "Eileen," waves at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Anne Hathaway, a cast member in "Eileen," works the press line at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Anne Hathaway, a cast member in "Eileen," is interviewed at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Anne Hathaway, left, and Thomasin McKenzie, cast members in "Eileen," pose together at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Anne Hathaway, a cast member in "Eileen," faces the press line at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Marin Ireland, a cast member in "Eileen," turns back for photographers at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Anne Hathaway, a cast member in "Eileen," poses at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Anne Hathaway, center, a cast member in "Eileen," works the press line at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              William Oldroyd, right, director/producer of "Eileen," poses with cast member Thomas McKenzie at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Thomasin McKenzie, right, a cast member in "Eileen," is interviewed at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Anne Hathaway, a cast member in "Eileen," turns back for photographers at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Anne Hathaway, left, and Thomas McKenzie, cast members in "Eileen," pose together at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Anne Hathaway, a cast member in "Eileen," waves at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Anne Hathaway, a cast member in "Eileen," works the press line at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Anne Hathaway, a cast member in "Eileen," is interviewed at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Shea Whigham poses for a portrait to promote the film "Eileen" at the Latinx House during the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)
            
              Shea Whigham poses for a portrait to promote the film "Eileen" at the Latinx House during the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)
            
              Director William Oldroyd poses for a portrait to promote the film "Eileen" at the Latinx House during the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)
            
              Anne Hathaway poses for a portrait to promote the film "Eileen" at the Latinx House during the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)
            
              Director William Oldroyd poses for a portrait to promote the film "Eileen" at the Latinx House during the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)
            
              Thomasin McKenzie poses for a portrait to promote the film "Eileen" at the Latinx House during the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)
            
              Thomasin McKenzie poses for a portrait to promote the film "Eileen" at the Latinx House during the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)
            
              Anne Hathaway poses for a portrait to promote the film "Eileen" at the Latinx House during the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)
            
              Anne Hathaway poses for a portrait to promote the film "Eileen" at the Latinx House during the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)
            
              Shea Whigham, from left, writer Ottessa Moshfegh, writer Luke Goebel, director William Oldroyd, Anne Hathaway, and Thomasin McKenzie poses for a portrait to promote the film "Eileen" at the Latinx House during the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)
            
              This image released by the Sundance Institute shows Anne Hathaway, left, and Thomasin McKenzie in a scene from "Eileen," which will be featured at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. (Courtesy of Sundance Institute via AP)

Anne Hathaway, left, and Thomasin McKenzie, cast members in "Eileen," pose together at the premiere of the film at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — Eileen, the title character of Ottessa Moshfegh’s debut novel, is a strange young woman with a vivid, sensual, and sometimes dangerous imagination.

Her actual life, however, is anything but: She works a mind-numbing desk job as a secretary at a boy’s prison in Massachusetts in 1964 and goes home to a depressed, cruel father who seems content to drink himself to death. She is hopelessly lonely and a little bitter — that is until the arrival of a glamourous new employee, Rebecca Saint John, a Hitchcock blonde with a doctorate from Harvard, a taste for martinis and a breezy Mae West confidence.

The moody, noirish film adaptation of “Eileen” debuted on Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival with New Zealand actor Thomasin McKenzie playing Eileen and Anne Hathaway taking on the role of the enigmatic Rebecca.

As Moshfegh said in an interview Saturday in Park City, “Rebecca sort of sweeps and carries Eileen and the viewer away into something that is really kind of sticky.”

Moshfegh helped adapt her novel for the screen. Before work even began on the script, she, her husband Luke Goebel and director William Oldroyd, behind the terrific “Lady Macbeth” with Florence Pugh, settled on an “eerily perfect shared vision” steeped in genre but subverted with a contemporary character lens.

Though she knew the story and the characters by heart, when she and Goebel began writing the script, suddenly new dimensions opened up in characters like Eileen’s father Jimmy, who is played by Shea Wigham. The actors then added their own dimensions.

“I knew that were it to be made into a film, it would attract great actors because they would love to play these roles,” Oldroyd said. “And I haven’t met an actor who is as emotionally available and honest as Thomasin.”

As Eileen, McKenzie had to do a lot of heavy lifting in translating the largely first-person novel into a performance that wasn’t aided by an inner monologue or exposition.

“It’s such a masterful first person in the novel. That’s what makes adaptations of novels so difficult. But she just has it in her face,” Goebel said. “There were a lot of great actors who auditioned for the part. But she just had the gravity of this character in her bones. It would be a hard call for me to say if there was anything lost between the novel and her expressions, which is incredible.”

McKenzie came in as a fan of Moshfegh, having already read “My Year of Rest and Relaxation” and then “Eileen” and empathized deeply with the character’s longing and loneliness. She dreams of a bigger life, the possibility of which seems to open up to her in the form of Rebecca.

“I was very, very lucky that I had the book available to me to work with,” said McKenzie. “Her writing goes so deeply into that and the character’s inner monologue. And that was just gold for me because it gave me so much material to work with to really understand what it was like being in Eileen’s head. I think I’ve always been a bit of a stiller actor and I’m trying to feel more comfortable to be a bit more fluid and a little bit bigger these days. But in this situation playing Eileen it really worked because she is such an observer and I think she’s a bit too scared to make any big movements.”

Hathaway, on the other hand, needed to go big to play Rebecca, whose name is a nod to Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s book. Moshfegh wanted her to be larger than life in the film, too.

“Rebecca to me represents someone, a woman who is undeniably brilliant, living during a moment in history where it’s quite dangerous to be a brilliant woman openly,” Hathaway said. “What we all kind of were going for was how would a brilliant woman both protect and empower herself in that time? That’s where a lot of the glamour comes in because she’s able to allow people to think what they want while keeping her private, fairly intense self, private.”

“For me, this is a film about triggers,” Hathaway added. “Throughout the course of the movie, that inner life balloons, it gets triggered and it comes out with some pretty extreme results.”

Due to COVID-19 protocols, Moshfegh and Goebel weren’t able to be on set during the filming, but they did get to tour Eileen’s house the day prior. It was a transportive experience.

“It was like walking into my imagination,” Moshfegh said.

“Eileen,” which is currently seeking a distributor, proved to be a bit of a freeing experience for all — for the actors to stretch and play, for Moshfegh to let go of the novel and let it be something else, for Oldroyd to have the freedom to make exactly what he wanted without intervention. It was, he said, true independence.

During a climactic scene, Hathaway even had an out-of-body experience.

“I had a moment where in from within the scene, I left my body and observed it as an audience member and went, I have never seen this movie before,” Hathaway said. “Like, this is something completely new.”

Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr.

___

Watch an extended interview with the “Eileen” cast here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_21-aRpXkE

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Bus crash kills at least 8, injures dozens in western Turkey

ISTANBUL (AP) — A passenger bus crashed off a road and overturned in western Turkey Sunday, killing at least eight people and injuring dozens. The governor’s office of Afyonkarahisar province said the bus was traveling from the southeastern Diyarbakir province to the Aegean city of Bodrum. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted that 42 people were […]
1 day ago
Two men share a meal in a makeshift tent camp outside the Petit Chateau reception center in Brussel...
Associated Press

EU migration impasse leaves many refugees out in the cold

BRUSSELS (AP) — Some refugees and asylum-seekers in Brussels have been spending months in between the Street of Palaces and the Small Castle — quite literally. Unfortunately, it’s not a dream come true at the end of their fearful flight from halfway across the globe. It’s a perpetual nightmare. Petit Chateau, which means small castle, […]
1 day ago
Presidential candidate Andreas Mavrogiannis, left, who is backed by the left-wing AKEL party, is se...
Associated Press

Voting starts for Cyprus’ presidency, with 3 front-runners

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cypriots on Sunday began voting for their eighth new president in the ethnically divided island’s 63-year history as an independent republic, with three front-runners each portraying themselves as the safest bet to guide the country through turbulent economic times and to seek peace with breakaway Turkish Cypriots. Opinion polls indicate that […]
1 day ago
Pope Francis arrives to celebrate mass at the John Garang Mausoleum in Juba, South Sudan, Sunday, F...
Associated Press

Pope makes final bid for peace, forgiveness in South Sudan

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — Pope Francis made a final appeal for peace in South Sudan on Sunday as he celebrated Mass before tens of thousands of people to close out an unusual mission by Christian religious leaders to nudge forward the country’s recovery from civil war. On the last day of his African pilgrimage, […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Turkey detains 15 for IS links but finds no concrete threats

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish police have arrested 15 people for alleged links to the extremist Islamic State group, the country’s official news agency said late Saturday, following days of security warnings by Western consulates. Anadolu news agency, sourcing an Istanbul police statement, said the group was detained for purportedly planning attacks on the Swedish and […]
1 day ago
In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest, a Coast Guard rescue swimmer reac...
Associated Press

Man rescued by Coast Guard wanted in ‘Goonies’ fish incident

A man who was saved by a Coast Guard rescue swimmer at the mouth of the Columbia River as a massive wave rolled the yacht he was piloting Friday was wanted for a bizarre incident in which police said he left a dead fish at the Astoria, Oregon, home featured in the classic 1985 film, "The Goonies."
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Hathaway, McKenzie anchor stylish adaptation of ‘Eileen’