Matthew Glave spoke with Solzy at the Movies over the phone last week about the upcoming lesbian dramedy Funny Story.
While Sundance gets most of the attention during January in Park City, Slamdance takes place on historic Main Street. When I read about Funny Story last year, I knew it was one of those films that I needed to cover. I had the opportunity to meet with the cast and crew on the red carpet last year. Let me tell you–the Slamdance carpets hardly get any coverage. When we talk about how much these indie films need coverage, every piece counts for Slamdance.
Last year, I spoke with Emily Bett Rickards last year just before the world premiere. With the film coming out this weekend, I chatted with actor Matthew Glave. Glave–who recently recurred in the final season of Angie Tribeca–stars as Walter in the film.
Funny Story was one of the best films to premiere at Slamdance last year and won a number of awards on the festival circuit. What was it about the screenplay that spoke to you as an actor?
Matthew Glave: I read it and I saw it. I didn’t have to reach for anything. I just saw it. I saw it not as a funny story. I saw it as a sad movie that’s funny about people that do stupid things and not necessarily with the intention of causing pain but indirectly not taking responsibility for the pain you’re causing over the years. It was a sad movie that was funny and I thought it was a lovely story. I liked the way that it ended. I liked the way that [Michael Gallagher] made it end and the way that he shot it. It was kind of vague and I like that.
What did you enjoy the most about playing Walter?
Matthew Glave: I didn’t overthink it. I didn’t have a lot of time. I read the script on a on a Wednesday or something. I talked to Michael on a Thursday and then we started filming on a Tuesday. I was in the middle of moving so there was no time. I read the script and I’m like, Wow, I like this. Then I had to sort of—it was almost like somebody forcing you to do something so quickly that you didn’t have time to make big idea choices—just show up, be present, look at somebody, and start talking to them, and let it just be a little sloppy naturally. I love the fact that we had to do it under the conditions we had to do it. We had 15 days and it was an all-play. We had to get as much in as we could every day and there wasn’t a lot of time to sit around and over-analyze anything.
Does a 15-day shoot make things more challenging as an actor?
Matthew Glave: Oh, yeah—absolutely and for everyone. As an actor, I can cop out a little bit. I have 15 days of shooting. As the director and the crew, they had to get an entire story in 15 days and had to get their setups. They had to get many scenes in in a day with a shortened schedule like that. The fact that they did it was a very mature really, really competent above A+ crew. A lot of them are Chapman grads and everybody just rose to every occasion. We had to get a lot in in every day.
(This is the part of the interview where the call was mysteriously dropped.)
It was a challenge because I was working every single day and I didn’t have a lot of time to prep but I had to just show up and be present. I was also surrounded by all those amazing women who were so complete and great that I constantly had something to work off of. All the women were stellar. Emily was fantastic. I had the most in the front with her. The people you’re with make it easier. It was a challenge because of a time crunch but I was with all great actresses. It makes it very easy.
You’ve played a number of characters over the years. In a perfect world, is there any character that you would love to revisit?
Matthew Glave: I don’t know. I don’t have enough time in the time span of this interview to go over because I like about 55 percent of things I’ve done. It’s hard to pick but there’s things I could always do everything—I’ve done everything better. Every time you look back at it and go, Oh, that one could’ve been a little more or on that one, you greased it on the edges a little too much there. Most of the time, I’m always saying if I’m being a ham, pull me back—which I told Michael because this movie was not funny funny. It should’ve been funny because people do stupid things and make mistakes and then we witness them trying to get out of them in an honest way not played for funny. I would say that to Michael—if you sense me being a ham, pull me back.
What do you hope that people take away from watching the film?
Matthew Glave: People are clumsy. They do stupid things. People do things that hurt each other when they don’t think they are and they don’t take responsibility. People are flawed. I guess it’s a story about forgiveness for everyone. Everyone should be forgiven. With Emily and her mother, there’s just room for forgiveness and understanding of flawed character because nobody’s perfect. Some people wake up to the fact that they’re not and others just kind of continue to walk on in ignorance. It’s kind of a movie about forgiveness and judgment. I’ve really welcomed the different feelings that people have about the end of the movie.
What do you typically look for in characters while reading a screenplay?
Matthew Glave: An interest in where they’re going. An interest in where somebody is headed. Sometimes, you read something and you’re like, I have no idea where they’re headed. I have to make it up. I have to fill it in. Other times you read it and I see exactly where they’re going. I want to make it an interesting direction that they’re going. All we want to do is either sit around the fire and hear a good story or we want to read a good story or you just want a good story well told. You want a page-turner. It doesn’t have to go on forever but you like leaning forward to hear a good story. I just want to be part of a good story—whatever the subject matter. If something’s a good story, we always lean forward and we don’t shift in our seat. I like being part of something that doesn’t make me shift in my seat. Otherwise, we just get sleepy. I like a good story. It doesn’t matter the subject matter.
You mentioned you were in the middle of moving when you took on the role.
Matthew Glave: Yes.
How challenging was that?
Matthew Glave: It’s as challenging as today because I’m moving again. We’re literally moving when I’m opening the film. I think it’s exciting. We moved once while we were making it. As luck would have it, where I moved to was about two miles from the location where we were shooting—which was the Big Sur retreat with the teepee. That was about two miles from my new home. I was literally leaving home with my wife with a bunch of boxes and going and doing twelve hour days. She claims that it was all for the best because I didn’t get in her way putting everything the way in wherever they needed to be the right way. I basically like freed her up to do it right.