2006_11_interview_pajamas.jpgBoy meets girl on a blind date in a diner. Boy and girl fall in love, move in together and get married. Boy and girl’s relationship crashes and burns. It’s a very New York story that’s all too familiar, yet hardly seems inevitable from the romantic opening scene of Flannel Pajamas, a new indie drama playing at the Angelika. Gothamist recently sat down with the movie’s stars, Julianne Nicholson and Justin Kirk--two actors whose good-natured banter with each other isn’t surprising after seeing them so shockingly intimate and emotionally naked together on screen.

Did you shoot some of the film here in the city, and some of it in other places?
Justin Kirk: We were in Pennsylvania for four days or something like that.

Julianne Nicholson: Forty-six days we were here in New York and then around, we shot kind of all around the city. What we shot for my apartment was in the East Village and then Jeff’s apartment--the apartment that Stuart and Nicole move into was actually the director’s [Jeff Lipsky] apartment.

JK: But not any more.

Oh really?
JN: I know, I read that and I couldn’t take it. His apartment has been downsized.

How did you get involved with working with him? He wrote and directed the film, right?
JK: Yeah. I think we just met with him, separately. I live in Los Angeles, were you here at the time?

JN: I remember I was in London, and calling Justin from London.

JK: That is just not true, I met you at the airport.

JN: On the phone…

JK: Had we spoken before?

JN: I called you.

JK: I introduced myself to you at the airport.

JN: No.

JK: Yes. Because I knew you from Tully

JN: You knew me from Tully.

JK: I said, I know that girl, I’m going to be...

JN: We had spoken before, I had called him from London.

JK: You’re absolutely right, sorry.

JN: I read the script and met Jeff because I thought it was really interesting. I had never seen anyone look at a relationship in that way.

JK: Did I mention Tully in that first phone call?

JN: Probably. No, you might have played it cool. [JK laughs]. So I met with Jeff and then agreed to do it, and then Justin was interested in the role of Stuart and that he wanted to have a conversation about it first. So we chatted a little bit, and I didn’t talk him into it, but I said we should do this…

JK: That’s not true. I was ready to go from the get go. I think. It’s been so long.

JN: Yes. But you had seen my work in Tully. [laughs]

JK: Yeah. Are you familiar with Tully?

Uh?

JK: I know you are, I know you are.

JN: See!

JK: I don’t know how this happens because everyone else knows about it. Every time you’re not around. It’s a fine film that Julianne did a couple years ago, about a farm and stuff.

JN: It’s a little film that Justin says everyone has seen and he brings it up regularly.

JK: Because now it’s kind of funny.

JN: Now it’s a joke.

So I guess I’ll have to rent it.
JK: You will. She’s delightful in it. Though, it’s no Little Black Book.

I think the thing that I liked about the film was that I didn’t know anything about it before I watched it and I thought it was going to be more of a romantic comedy, but it’s really a drama.
JK: Is it the title that makes you think that? Someone said to me the other day that they think the title makes them think of an old screwball comedy. [starts singing] “We’ve got Flannel Pajamas…”

The title, and I think the poster, with the two of you in front of the door.
JK: That was funny to you?

No, it just looks like it has a “meet cute” premise.
JK: No, I understand.

But the thing I find most interesting about the film is how intimate it is. How it is a very close look at this relationship. There are these scenes where you feel almost like you’re embarrassed to be peering into this relationship. “Oh, I shouldn’t be seeing this level of conversation.” But I think it’s very real.
JN: I’m glad you said that because that’s exactly how I feel about the movie. I also felt the first time that I read it, that it was going to be a romantic comedy. It’s a bunch of New Yorkers, sitting around in a diner. It’s very recognizable. Then it takes this massive left turn and becomes something completely different. But the reason I decided to do the movie are for those very reasons you say and it’s why ultimately I’m proud of the movie and our work in it. But it’s also what makes it a movie that’s not very easy to watch. Doing it was incredible. But seeing it up there, because you don’t know, as you say, if I should be listening to this conversation, if I should be seeing this moment.

JK: That description is the kind of movie I’d like to see.

JN: It’s also why I wanted to be an actor ultimately, to explore in depth people and their relationships, and who they are.

Were there any parts, either before you did a scene or afterwards, that were particularly difficult?
JK: I had a remarkably sort of easy time on this movie. I really enjoyed showing up to work every day and it was the first time in awhile. It was just a good time. Julianne and I really got along. We had a nice crew.

JN: I feel the same way. Basically there was no room for you to go off and prepare yourself for a scene, so you just had to make it work. There was a real ease and trust that whatever we were going to do was going to be the right thing, so that happened. There were some things, like suddenly there was a lot more nudity than there was on the page. There were scenes that Jeff had imagined without clothing that I didn’t know. [laughs] There was actually some discussion of that, where I said, if I’m naked one more time it’s going to be absurd.

JK: I always thought it was appropriate when Julianne was naked.

Actually a couple of people that I’ve mentioned to that I was going to interview you guys, who had seen the trailer, said, there’s a lot of ass biting in that movie.
JN: Oh yeah, that’s another thing, when I saw the trailer I was like, Can you be naked in trailers? I’ve never seen trailers where they’re naked. That was a shock. I was there at the Angelika, watching a movie with my husband, and we said, Oh look there’s my trailer and all of a sudden there I am in sprawled out on the bed. I just scrunched down in my seat. Anyway.

JK: I don’t think I ever bite.

JN: This movie is all about ass biting.

I assured them that in the context of film it doesn’t seem like it happens that many times.
JK: It works. The scene calls for some ass biting and to not put it there would seem weird.

JN: Completely. And if you’ve seen my ass, you want to bite it.

That’s the pull quote.
JK: I think Roger Ebert said that.

So both of you now have done shooting for film and TV in New York, is there anything you particularly love or hate about that?
JN: It’s so fun because of the show I’m doing now.

On Law and Order: Criminal Intent
JN: Of course, you have the random person who’s upset because you’re blocking their doorway, but overall people are really excited it. Also, working with Chris Noth is really fun because between Sex and the City and L&O, he’s got the whole city covered as far as audience.

JK: Big star.

JN: It’s kind of crazy actually because he can’t, every time he’s near anybody, they…

JK: [to the tape recorder] They whip out their camera cell-phones.

JN: People come right up to him and stick their cameras in his face, not even connecting with who he is. That’s kind of creepy, but other than that it’s fun. And we get to see a side of the city that not many people see.

I’m sure people ask you this but I’m curious, do you prefer shooting film over TV or vice a versa?
JK: It’s really the same, isn’t it? Except you have a better trailer and catering if you’re on TV.

JN: It’s great to do both, I think. It’s really hard to make a living just doing films, especially independent films. So doing television allows me to do movies like Flannel Pajamas. And there’s a certain amount, if you do a television show, you can be pretty sure that people are going to see it. It will be out there. Whereas when you make a film, it could be just for you or you and the director. It may not go to a theater.

JK: Although on the way over here, this guy came up to us and asked, “Are you guys in Flannel Pajamas?”

JN: And then he went on!

JK: I can’t wait to see it on Wednesday.

Wow, it’s like, Are you a ringer?
JK: Yeah, we were certain someone had set it up. But apparently our trailer is very hot.

With all the ass biting. So you’re living in LA now, but Justin, you lived in New York for a while.
JK: Yeah, I lived in New York for ten years.

And Julianne, you’re living here now, doing Law and Order. So what is the ideal night out in New York? What are your favorite things to do?
JK: Go to see a movie starring Julianne Nicholson.

JN: [laughing] I don’t know what to say to that.

JK: Yeah, I know.

JN: But seriously.

JK: But seriously.

JN: I have to say, I rarely go out. When I go out, I go out to dinner. I like restaurants like Perry Street. It’s amazing. I go to plays and movies and it’s very boring.

But that’s going out.
JK: The new great spot is the Waverly Inn.
One of my good friends is the co-owner, Roberto Benabib, from Ally McBeal.

And he works on Weeds. [The Showtime TV show Kirk appears in.]
JK: We went there last night. It was a preview menu, and it was so good. And that was the other thing, it wasn’t like packed with young losers, but it was very much a scene and it’s only like the third weekend. They’re working it. I did see Moby there.

You did? Moby was probably like, “ I saw Justin Kirk at the Waverly! It was so exciting.”

JK: It’s a very low key place too. A very nice menu.

What are you both doing next?
JK: Well, Weeds is going to come back, for a third season. I’ve got a couple of these things coming out, suddenly saturating the market with small, indie movies.

You two did another movie together?
JK: Yes, it’s called Puccini for Beginners. It’s coming out in a couple of months.

JN: I had a small role in that one.

JK: And yet, pivotal.

JN: It’s sort of an 180 degrees different from this movie and it was also filmed here in New York. I have another movie coming out in March, called Two Weeks, with Sally Field, Ben Chaplin and Tom Cavanagh. It’s about this woman who’s dying of cancer and her kids come back during the last two weeks of her life.

Flannel Pajamas opens in New York on Wednesday, at the Angelika Film Center.