Willa Fitzgerald talks Watergate film 18½

John Magaro (Paul) and Willa Fitzgerald (Connie) star in Dan Mirvish's film 18½. Photo credit: Elle Schneider. © 2021 Waterbug Eater Films, LLC.

Willa Fitzgerald spoke with Solzy at the Movies about her role in the new Watergate film, 18½, opening in select theaters.

Fitzgerald stars as White House transcriber Connie Lashley, who gets her hands on the missing minutes of the Richard Nixon tapes. Everything proceeds in full-on hysterics from there as filmmaker Dan Mirvish puts his spin on the moment in American history.

The film will start rolling out in theaters on May 27 before expanding into more theatrical markets.

There have been so many films and TV series that touch on Watergate. What was it about the script that drew to the role of Connie in 18 ½?

Willa Fitzgerald: I really liked that it was a small ensemble movie that was very contained in its time and location. I always think that’s a really fun sort of project to do, because it kind of feels like a play. I thought that it just had an interesting tone and a cool perspective. I think it was a great starting place.

Was there anything in particular that you did to prep for the role?

Willa Fitzgerald: Yeah, I did a quite a bit of just extra background research about what Connie Lashley’s life would have been like as a as a transcriber, what that kind of entailed. What her life was like as a woman at the time. That kind of just to help fill in all of the puzzle pieces of who Connie was a character.

Did you require much direction from Dan Mirvish?

Willa Fitzgerald: Dan was great. He let us really kind of do our own thing and explore the dynamics that we had with other actors. He was a very, very supportive director.

What do you typically look for in a character when you’re reading a script?

Willa Fitzgerald: I think I look at kind of what connects me to that person. What’s there on the page that makes me lean in and want to know ask more questions because at the end of the day, my whole job is kind of about asking questions. I think you just kind of know. I think there’s just a sense of like, oh, this is a thing that I could really spend a month or more digging into and thinking about.

About 80% of the film was shot in March 2020 before a six-month production pause. Was there a point during production that you started to get concerned before things officially shut down?

Willa Fitzgerald: Yeah, definitely. I mean, we shut down quite late in the scheme of it. I can’t remember what day it all started but we had obviously been hearing about it for a month at that point or whatever. I just remember when it was like, oh, New York is going to have a lockdown. We were like, maybe we should stop shooting—what is this thing that we maybe need to leave to go? It was just a completely foreign experience. None of us really understood, I don’t think, until much later.

When production resumed, how quickly were you able to get back into character?

Willa Fitzgerald: It’s immediate. When you’re at work, you’re at work.

Adventure Entertainment will release 18½ in theaters on May 27, 2022.

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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.