Brooklyn filmmaker Alex Ross Perry and Elisabeth Moss, star of his new film Queen of Earth, may be the first duo to do back-to-back q&as at MoMA and MoMI. They were at the Museum of Modern Art on Monday and then at the Museum of the Moving Image on Tuesday to cap off Perry’s retrospective there. As you can see from the flyer above, the chats continue this week at IFC Center and Lincoln Center.
We decided to travel to yesterday’s, since Queens is the hot new tourist destination (and also, Tuesday is $5 deep-dish night at Astoria’s Pizzeria Uno). It turned out to be the right call, because we got to hear about Moss’s first tour of the museum’s Mad Men exhibit.
“It was super weird,” she told the crowd at the museum’s futuristic, felt-paneled Sumner M. Redstone Theater. “It’s so bizarre. To have anything you are a part of in a museum is so weird. And like, we went to Don’s office but there’s, like, glass now, so I can’t go in. I used to nap in there and, like, put my cellphone in the drawer and, like, I spent so much time in there. So it’s super weird to be not allowed to go in there anymore.”
The good part: Moss was reunited with Peggy’s red thermos. “I got permission to take this red thermos that’s part of the show from Lionsgate but it didn’t arrive to me, so I didn’t know where it was. And it’s in the museum! They’re like, ‘We’re going to send it to you when they’re done.'”
Eventually, talk turned away from Mad Men and toward Queen of Earth, an understated, somewhat throwback psychological thriller about a woman who, in an attempt to get over a breakup and the death of her father, retreats to an idyllic lake house only to tangle with her best frienemy. Eventually the bickering devolves into something way darker than anything Mike Albo could imagine.
With just one location and a handful of actors in the mix, the filming went “very smoothly,” according to Perry. “Which really proved our other producer Joe Swanberg’s theory that the less you have going on, the less susceptible you are to there being any kind of problem.”
Moss elaborated: “It’s like the classic song ‘Mo Money, Mo Problems’ — if you take away the money and the people it actually gets a lot simpler and easier.”
That said, Perry confessed to running out of film while shooting one outdoor scene. “That was a humongous pain in the ass,” he admitted. “Somehow the only film we had left was for interior lighting and it was a nightmare.”
Perry said his cinematographer Sean Price Williams (a former colleague at Kim’s Video) was “humiliated to the point of being, like, unapproachable.”
“I was like, ‘We’re out of what?'” Moss recalled.
At least Katherine Waterston, who stars alongside Moss, knew the ropes of shooting on film. “This gave me a great opportunity,” said Perry, “to make a bunch of self-depricating remarks to Katherine where I was like, ‘This probably happened on Inherent Vice all the time, right?”
Rest assured, Perry isn’t forever relegated to the world of low-budget art flicks. You may have heard that he’s currently writing the script for Disney’s live-action Winnie the Pooh movie. He assures: “It’s not a joke.”