Malin Akerman realizes that there are critics of her performance of Silk Spectre II in "Watchmen," Zack Snyder's adaptation of Alan Moore's graphic novel. To be honest, Akerman is so charming in person, I didn't know quite how to delve into that subject -- a subject that I've always wanted to discuss with the Swedish born actor. Admittedly, I was surprised when a fairly general question about "Watchmen" led Akerman into such an open critique about her performance. As Akerman acknowledges, she is her "own worst critic."
Ackerman is in New York City for the premiere of her Tribeca Film Festival offering, "The Giant Mechanical Man." In the indie film, Akerman plays Jill, the overbearing younger sister of Janice (Jenna Fischer), an underachiever who falls for a local street performer.
Here, Akerman discusses why she enjoys indie films (even when she has to shave off her eyebrows), explains what it's like to hang out with Nicolas Cage, and takes a introspective look back at "Watchmen."
These seats are set up like Frost-Nixon. "You're in trouble now, I'm going to get to the bottom of all of this and get the answers that America wants."
"I'm sorry I did it, OK?"
These festival interviews happen so fast. I'm concerned that by the end of this we won't get to the essence of Malin Akerman.
[Laughs] We'll have to do that another day, where we spend the day trying to do that.
When you first saw the title, were you like, "Yeah, an action-robot movie -- I'm in"? It sounds like it could be a "Transformers" hybrid.
It does! It totally does. I had no idea what it would be about. My agent called and said, "I have this great little film. It's an indie called "The Giant Mechanical Man." And I'm like, "What in the world is that about?" But I loved it. And I loved that it's very character based.
You've played the sister role before. What did you like about this particular sister?
I don't know. You know, it's so funny because, honestly, when I first got this script, they were thinking of me more for Pauline -- which Lucy Punch ended up playing. It's a great role, but I was the one who was drawn to the sister role. Because she's a little bit more crazy. I mean, there's so many different levels to her and I guess I'm always drawn to that. And that usually ends up being the sister or the best friend. So I was actually the one who suggested to them that maybe they want to consider me for Jill. And they went, "Oh, OK, cool. Why not?"
Is that normal? Can you just show up and say that you want to play a different role?
No. No, that's not normal.
Like, they brought you in to play Silk Spectre II and you told them, "No, I want to play Nite Owl."
[Laughs] Right, then they were like, "You're a little too feminine for it." And I said, "What do you mean?" But, no, that's not a normal thing. Of course not. It hadn't been cast yet and I just felt like, Well, I might as well just offer the option. The worst that can happen is that they say, "No."
How do you pick your roles? I feel they are fairly eclectic for someone not really known as being eclectic. Does that make sense?
It does make sense. And I think it's more because most of the movies that people have seen have been the comedies.
"The Heartbreak Kid" was just on television yesterday.
I know! It's all over the place. Oh, God. It's embarrassing.
No, I love that movie. It was so much fun. It was one of my favorite roles -- again, outrageous. The crazier I can go, the better. Of course, it's not a perfect film, but it's fantastic. it was so much fun to do. But I think that having done a bunch of comedies, I started seeking out early on -- just in the independent world -- different roles. So that I could also just prove to myself to see what I'm capable of -- what I can and can't do. I take on films that sometimes scare the hell out of me. I just did a movie in England with John Cusack which is a really dark thriller, which I was really nervous about. You know, I don't want to just do comedies, even though I love it. But I definitely like the challenge. But, to the public eye, I think I'm more of a comedy genre-type of person. But people who come to film festivals will see a different side.
Well, you shaved your eyebrows once for a film-festival role, in "happythankyoumoreplease."
Yes! That was awesome. That was actually my suggestion, "Well, I guess I'll have to shave my eyebrows."
Did they grow back right away?
They grew back, but I think it took about three months.
That's surprisingly long.
Yeah. To really, fully, get them back. But, what's funny, right after I shaved them, a girl came up to me and goes, "Did you just shave your eyebrows?" She goes, "My God, my mom shaved hers and they never grew back." Oh, thanks! Thanks for telling me now. But, whatever, you can just draw them on.
And you did a movie with Nic Cage.
Yeah, that was last year. I think they changed the name to "Stolen." It was "Medallion" while we were shooting.
I find him interesting.
He's really interesting. He's really intriguing and he has a really different way of approaching life. A different outlook. And we had a great time and we wound up hanging out a lot with his lovely wife.
What's it like to hang out with Nic Cage?
It's great. When you get to know him, he's actually kind of silly and goofy and fun. You know what I mean? You wouldn't expect it because he seems so Gothic and dark. He definitely has that sort of mysterious side of him, but he's totally a softy. It was fascinating. I loved working with him -- I forgot sometimes that I was in the scene because I was just watching him act.
I'm going to look for that. Scenes of you just standing there watching Nic Cage.
[Laughs] Spaced out. Exactly.
I'm looking forward to "Rock of Ages."
Oh! Me, too. I've only seen bits and pieces of it when I've had to do ADR, but I get see it next week when I get back.
I've now seen it twice on Broadway. Well, technically, once off-Broadway.
I saw it here on Broadway and I saw it in L.A. when it came there. It's such a fun show and hopefully the film will have the same effect.
Is the Linda Lovelace movie going to happen? I'm confused about what's going on.
I'm confused, too. The last I heard, we were supposed to shoot it in March. It's now April. So, honestly, it's truly a passion project for me, but I just don't know what's happening with it. My guess is as good as yours.
I'm going to guess "yes."
Good! I agree with you. I don't know when, maybe 2015. But let's guess "yes."
Was "Watchmen" a good experience for you? That is a movie that was very much picked apart -- good and bad.
I know. But, actually, the funny thing is, I felt like most of the people who loved the movie were the true fans. They loved the adaptation. I also feel like people who hadn't read the graphic novel were confused. They went in thinking it would be a Batman -- good versus evil -- where it's so much more about existentialism. For me, it was the most amazing experience. Filming it was incredible. Everybody was unbelievable. I met some of my now-closest friends on that movie. And the amazing experience of getting to learn how to fight and the training and the whole process. But I felt very much out of my league.
What do you mean by feeling out of your league?
I felt very green, compared to all of the other actors. I had never done a movie like that before. All of my movies, up until that day, had been comedies. I really kind of felt lost a lot of the time and didn't know what I was doing. And, to be really honest with you, there was obviously a big, huge sort of arc of comments. Some people loved the movie, some people absolutely hated it. Some people hated my performance. Some people loved it. I'm sort of in the middle -- I'm like, "Eh." I didn't love my performance. I loved the movie. I thought it was brilliant -- so well made.
What didn't you like about your performance?
I think we're always self-critical of our own thing. You know, if I could go back ... it's one of those movies where it's like, If only I could go back, I would have done that differently and that differently.
What would you have done differently? I mean, a lot of actors don't say things like that.
I don't know. I'd have to go back and watch the movie again. But, I remember while I was watching it, there were a few scenes in which I was like, "Oh, I should have done more of that. That emotion there was wrong." Or, like certain choices that were made -- for me. If you ask anyone else, they probably have different opinions. But I think any time you do a movie, there's always that thing where you go, "Aw, that didn't really work." Because you make choices and you're probably the only one who can see it. And you're the only one who can wish that you can do something different and/or love it or hate it. I think, again, I'm my own worst critic. But I think that's only healthy and challenging yourself to get better.
It was a big shift from what you were doing before. All of a sudden you're in spandex...
Latex! Even worse. But, it was so much fun. The experience was amazing.
Would you do another superhero movie?
Yes. Absolutely. Maybe not in latex.
With the title of this movie, you thought "The Giant Mechanical Man" might have been it. "Finally, my next superhero movie."
[Laughs] And I was like, "No latex!" Never again.
Mike Ryan is senior entertainment writer for The Huffington Post. He has written for Wired Magazine, VanityFair.com and GQ.com. He likes Star Wars a lot. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.