Geraldine Viswanathan and I aren’t face to face – in fact, she called from LA, across the country for me – but I can still feel her warmth and openness on the phone, her shameless laughter even showing up. when she is making fun of herself.
That’s why she was a natural fit for Lucy, the bubbly but heartbroken main character of The gallery of broken hearts. But for Viswanathan, the character – who is reeling from a breakup before deciding to turn memories of old relationships (think retentions and condoms) into community art – is someone she could only afford. admire. “Lucy is herself so without any excuse and feels emotions so strongly, fully and strongly,” says Viswanathan. “I think it’s so hard to do that.”
Perhaps this is why the 25-year-old Australian is so captivating as characters like the titular protagonist of Hala, a young American Muslim struggling with her own sense of freedom and identity, or Rachel, a student journalist determined to speak out against the illegal acts committed by her superintendent (Hugh Jackman) in Bad Education. Like Lucy, they are heroines in their own right and encourage Viswanathan to be the same. “I wanted to experience being that person,” she says of Lucy. “She’s so very herself, and that really inspires the people around her to be themselves.
Playing Lucy also meant that Viswanathan had to do a lot of physical comedy – like when the drunken heroine falls out of a scene after seeing her future ex (Utkarsh Ambudkar) in the arms of another woman – and finally play a romantic role. But unlike many romantic comedies from before The gallery of broken hearts, it’s not just about the inevitable mating of Lucy and Nick (Dacre Montgomery), the curmudgeon turned softie whose hotel she uses for her artwork. It’s about the liberation she gains when she decides to release her grip on relationships that no longer serve her, instead focusing on the ones she has with herself and her besties-slash-roommates. , played by the hilarious Molly Gordon and Philippa Soo.
“The heart and soul of the film is Lucy’s journey of self-discovery and creation,” says Viswanathan. She tells ELLE.com about The gallery of broken hearts, recreating classic romantic moments and living out her American high school Hollywood fantasies.
I saw The gallery of broken hearts twice now – it’s kind of my wellness movie at the moment. You play a woman closer to your age who is extremely easy to get along with. And by relatable, I mean a little messy – how did you come to be a part of the movie and what drew you to Lucy?
I was so taken by Lucy, who herself is so shameless and feels emotions so strongly, fully and strongly. I found it really inspiring because it’s so difficult to do. It’s so easy to just, you know … you don’t wanna talk. You don’t want to make noise. You want to go with the flow and go with the flow.
I think there are a lot of parts of ourselves that we remove to keep moving socially, and she just doesn’t. She is so much herself, and that really inspires the people around her to be themselves. She has this very hyper-feminine strength and bravery. I like these people who can just make friends wherever they go [and be] so open and free. I have Facetimed with [screenwriter] Natalie Krinsky, [and I] discovered that many [her] the essence was put into Lucy and then fell in love with Natalie. They are both like most Leo people in the world. [Laughs] The life of the party and [people] you want to be friends with.
Have you always been a fan of the rom-com genre?
I mean, who doesn’t love a romantic comedy? Like comfort food. This film is a little more comical than rom, that’s what I wanted.
That’s a good point. Basically, it is about reconnecting with one’s own independence.
Totally. I think the priority in this movie is that it’s funny and believable, and the female friendship is so strong and true to all of us. Also, it’s an interesting take on recovering from a heartache because she takes the pain and sadness and doesn’t let it be destructive. It makes it constructive and productive, turns it into something beautiful and invites other people to participate. It goes further than a traditional romantic comedy, where you just want them to reunite or you want her to catch the guy.
That’s right, although there are two classic romantic comedy motifs in the film: the ex who only wants you when another man shows interest –
– And the big romantic gesture at the end of the film. What are your favorite romantic moments that you have to recreate in this movie?
I really enjoyed doing the karaoke scene. In a lot of good romantic comedies there is a musical moment – I think Bridget Jones Diary. And it’s a really sweet moment between Lucy and Nick. It really sums up their dynamic, as she tries to get him out of her shell. They really complement each other.
They really do. And Bridget Jones Diary is another great example of a movie that is really about a woman reconnecting with her own independence.
Yes. It’s my favorite romantic comedy of all time. I can watch this over and over again.
You’ve been in two fantastic recent movies, Bad Education and Hala, playing a bit of a heroine in both. What drew you to these specific films?
Oh my God, Hala that was a few years ago now. But this film was so nuanced and intimate and personal for Minhal [writer/director Baig]. And I thought it would be a really special experience to work on a movie like this when I had only done studio comedies. I’m also very interested in exploring a more dramatic character.
And then for Bad EducationI am a huge fan of Cory Finley. I think he’s an amazing director and I really like his style. And I thought Mike Makowsky’s script was so crisp and cool. So obviously when Hugh [Jackman] and Alison [Janney] came, it was also a huge sale. But I also like a good story. Really kind of everything on that one.
I can understand why. You played a high school student in these two films as well as Blockers. Did they make you think differently about your teenage years?
It’s been fun for me because I can live out my American high school fantasy, which I think is very different from my experience in school. Like, don’t wear uniforms and have a record. These were all things that I found really cool. As far as the high school kids I’ve played, I’m definitely not a jock. I wasn’t good at sports so I couldn’t be Taylor to Blockers. But I loved Rachel in Bad Education. I thought I would be a journalist for a bit.
It’s an interesting hub – from journalism to the theater.
Yes, I studied journalism for a little while because I knew I wanted to get into acting and writing, and I thought journalism would be a cool way to learn storytelling. But then, you know, I gave up a few months later. [Laughs]
Do you believe, as shown The gallery of broken hearts, what can pain make great art?
Absolutely. This is almost exclusively true. The pain is so inevitable. It’s something we all experience to different degrees and it’s a process. In order to process things, you have to express them. And expressing them in art is the best thing you can do with sadness. Wanting it to be constructive rather than destructive is easier said than done and is something I have learned during this tumultuous time. This is really how the human race continues to evolve.
We obviously know how Lucy mourns a breakup. Do you have a solution for yourself after a breakup?
I went through very few breakups so I didn’t really have the full, I have been dumped, what should I do? But when I’m sad I let myself – I mean, not that I born do this in my life – but I eat what I want. Like, I’m going to eat all the ice cream rather than just a bowl of ice cream.
Do you have a favorite flavor?
Oh yes. Chocolate chip cookie dough.
It’s one of my favorites!
I feel like it’s such a cliché thing – like, we’ve seen it before – but it’s because it’s true! And it’s really satisfying to eat it right out of the pint.
Speaking of ice cream, there’s a lovely scene where Lucy jumps in the middle of a conversation with Nick because she hears the ice cream truck – which again, relatable. What is something like that that turns you on these days?
Oh my god – Anything food! I really am like a full baby. Anyone who knows me will tell you that it’s pretty amazing how quickly I can turn around when there is food that I like. Fair whatever– ice cream truck, Chipotle, really anything.
A woman after my heart. Now that you’re a top lady, is that all you thought it would be?
It actually might be better because I feel like I’ve been able to run things, which is so satisfying because it’s so all-encompassing and you can really get in there. But I didn’t feel like Oh, I did. I’m just like Wow I can tell these stories and be the leader of the things I love. It is the ultimate dream.
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