Sidney Flanigan on Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Sidney Flanigan appears in Never Rarely Sometimes Always by Eliza Hittman, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Critics Choice Awards nominee Sidney Flanigan spoke with Solzy at the Movies this week about working on Never Rarely Sometimes Always.

How honored are you to be receiving so much critical acclaim for your feature debut role as Autumn in Never Rarely Sometimes Always?

Sidney Flanigan: I can only say I’m extremely honored. It’s extremely nice to be recognized and to see the film garnering such great support.

What was it about Eliza Hittman’s script that drew you to the character?

Sidney Flanigan: I found that the script was very intimate and grounded in this reality. It felt powerful and real.

Did you do anything in particular to prepare yourself for the role?

Sidney Flanigan: No, I wouldn’t quite say so. I didn’t really come to this film with any experience as an actor. I was a first-time actor. I had never really developed a process to say—I think I just mostly sort of acted on instinct and my only personal experiences to draw from and sort of borrowed from whatever performative experience I had as a musician, really.

Was there a scene that you found challenging?

Sidney Flanigan: I always like to say that I found the entire role to be a challenge—the entire experience to be a challenge. It was a brand new experience. It was a brand new artistic medium—I was exploring new worlds. Being on set is like a whole other reality almost. It was a lot every day—going in and doing something so new and (inaudible) that was so emotionally demanding. Constantly being in a headspace like that, I think it was demanding. Overall, every day was a challenge.

Is it hard to believe it’s been over a year since Sundance?

Sidney Flanigan: Yeah, it is. It feels almost like it was just yesterday but it also feels so far away.

What did you think of your first major film festival experience?

Sidney Flanigan: It was really amazing to get to be somewhere like that. Just the whole time, I was just thinking, I’m here, I’m here. This is really like, I can’t believe that I’m actually here. I don’t know. It’s a little different than you might imagine because the entire time, you are supposed to be doing press. I’m a little upset—I didn’t really get to see any other movies. I was really hoping that I was going to be able to do that but I didn’t get to do that.

Did the film change your thoughts when it comes to taking on a career in both acting and music?

Sidney Flanigan: When I was approached to take the role or to audition for the role, it was just one of those moments where I get this email that just comes out of left field. It’s bizarre and just totally unexpected. I had no acting experience so really what it was was just this moment of—my knee-jerk reaction was to decline because I just assumed well, I’m not actor. That’s just what it felt like. It just felt like it was impossible. I didn’t think I was capable. I was skeptical of my own abilities. It was one of those things where after some deliberation, talking with friends, talking to Eliza, reading the script, and after all these other factors, that’s when I eventually decided to take that plunge and to challenge myself. It wasn’t exactly just because I wanted to focus on music. It’s just because—I don’t know—something like that comes up and it terrifies you.

One of the things I found interesting about Never Rarely Sometimes Always is that while the film is about the abortion experience, it never really comments on the politics of it.

Sidney Flanigan: I very much enjoy that it doesn’t necessarily try to persuade someone one way or the other. It’s just this story about just putting yourself in this girl’s shoes and her journey and their journey. I think you can walk away with it just like that. It doesn’t feel like a propaganda film or anything.

Can you talk about working with Eliza Hittman and Talia Ryder?

Sidney Flanigan: Working with both of them was just amazing. I think I’m very grateful that my first experience on a film and acting for the first time was with really great, wonderful people. I mean, not just Eliza and Talia but the entire crew, everyone, the DP to the producers. Everybody was really great. Everyone was so supportive. There was just an intimacy between Eliza, Talia, and I where it just felt like family. I just felt really strongly bonded to them throughout the entire thing and still now.

What do you hope people take away from viewing the film?

Sidney Flanigan: Overall, I just really hope that they walk away with some perspective. It really depends also on who’s watching. For women and maybe teenage girls, I hope that there is a sense of validation and also in seeing their story told in a way that realistic and not some stereotypical Hollywood version of women’s issues. For men watching, I hope that they can walk away with some empathy for what so many women have to go through when it comes to just accessing literally just healthcare.

How have you kept yourself busy during the pandemic in terms of being creative and all?

Sidney Flanigan: Well, for the most part, I just worked on my music, songwriting, and whatnot. Working with my band, there’s not really much we can do but just pretty much writing and the recording process. I’ve still been auditioning for stuff, self-taping from home. I’m in Chicago right now shooting something. I just picked up a bunch of random hobbies pretty much. I started skateboarding over the summer I’ve just been reading a lot of books.

I’m sorry that the weather hasn’t been all that good right now. (Chicago has been hammered with a lot of snow recently.)

Sidney Flanigan: Oh, it’s fine. I’m from Buffalo so it’s not that different.

The publicist mentioned possibly meeting somewhere in Chicago but I have been mostly hunkered down since the start of the pandemic.

Sidney Flanigan: Yeah, I haven’t gone anywhere since I got in. I’m pretty much either in my AirBNB or on set. That’s it.

I hope the film experience goes well and that the weather doesn’t get worse than it has been lately.

Sidney Flanigan: I’ve been having a great time. It’s been really nice working with the people out here.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always is available on DVD and Digital. The film is currently available on HBO Max.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.