Upon walking into the room to begin the interview, I noticed there was no large table for everyone to sit around. Instead, there were two chairs and two beds in the room that would serve as our seats for the 30 minutes we had together. If I’m being honest, I dug the setup and didn’t mind sitting on a bed to discuss a film. The mood was relaxed and I walked into the middle of a discussion about The Jinx, a show I knew little about, but was happy to hear about. It’s always refreshing hearing actors and directors take a break to discuss what their interests are outside of their film. The only urgency to start the interview was the fact that we did have a time limit, but that didn’t stop us from having a discussion about Ryan Gosling and his rise to something near God-like. After that seemed like an appropriate time to discuss The Nymphets, a film that’s fairly revealing about oneself if you let it in. Here’s my interview with director Gary Gardner and stars Kip Pardue and Jordan Lane Price.
(This interview was originally published on nicktiffany.com and The Daily Cougar on March 30, 2015.)
On the perceptions of age within the industry and the limitations they bring:
KP: Personally, for myself, it’s been a weird time because, to back to [Remember the] Titans, that kind of put me on the map. It was the first thing that I really did that people had seen and I’m this young, cute guy. Then.. men especially go through this period where people don’t know what to do with you– I’m 38 years old, but I look a lot younger… I’m just starting to get roles where I get to be a man and Hollywood is a fu*ked up place. Age is King and that’s why I was drawn to this movie, because I get to do something with these young girls and watch them get this power over me. How much does age play into it? Is age really just a number, or is that a cliche? How do these girls manipulate a situation from a guy who should know better? Hollywood should know better too, yet they manipulate everyone.
JLP: I think that anything that just explores age and what it is to grow up is worth thinking about. You know, I’m relatively new to this (2 1/2 years) and this is like the first thing I did. I’m 26 and I’m playing much younger, but I do feel that because I see a lot of actresses around me my age that get to this point where, all of a sudden, you can’t play 18 anymore. That’s a weird thing with women. I think that it’s really important to have movies that ask the question and have people explore what it is to be young. How are you supposed to behave? They all kind of tie together.
GG: For me, obviously that’s what I was exploring. As you get older– and you don’t realize this when you’re younger– you always feel like a kid. I still feel like a kid no matter how old I get. I’m really not that old. That idea and thinking “what is it I’m supposed to do?” What are the expectations that are put on you from a professional standpoint, or a family standpoint. You get put in these circumstances and you don’t usually get to decide the circumstances that you have. So, as you get older you’re happy about it, you’re unhappy about it, and when you’re younger you’re thinking about “what do I want to do?” What is it in my life that is interesting and is this something I want to pursue.What her character is being approached by is sexual in nature and the expectations of “what should I do, or what shouldn’t I do”– maybe it’s not a cultural thing but a personal thing.
KP: Here’s a secret. Nobody fucking knows anything. You think that you’re going to get wiser and you’re gonna learn some things from experience, but you’re going to feel the way that you feel now, forever.
JLP: I do see different versions of myself. I see high school Jordan, college Jordan, and just out of college Jordan. There are these different versions and I think that I am very different than I was six years ago.
That’s exactly what this movie is. That’s the moment. This is an evening where you’re going to look back on this and it’s going to define something for you and it’s gonna change your life at some point. Bad things happen and you take some good from it, or you just keep sliding in a bad direction.
Greek mythology describes nymphs as “beautiful, young, fun women’ who dance and sing to lure men to their deaths. Today, nymph is more associated with Nymphomaniac and I got both vibes from both the men, and the women in the film. I’d like to hear you defend and criticize your characters actions.
JLP: From my perspective, Allyson and Brittany tease this out of him and it’s like a game that’s super playful and super rebellious. That’s what we do, though. That’s our nature. We’re going to f*ck with this guy all night. Personally, with Allyson, I think it takes on a new form of rebellion because she’s constantly with Brittany, who’s dominant over her. They go back-and-forth, but then she starts to open up a little bit and that’s new. That’s almost rebellious to her on a new level. I think it’s exploring that– maybe I will like him. Maybe I will let him in a little. BUt it’s still exciting because they’re doing whatever they can to explore and not care. But, they do care.
KP: This movie was always about power. Who has it, who gives it away, and who takes it? We were trying to show this idea of how one has power and is aware of it, how one takes power, or tries to take power and doesn’t. They end up going down this rabbit hole of a power struggle. Does anyone come out of it any wiser? That’s the question.
JLP: It’s really interesting, I hear this phrase all the time if you’re in a relationship with someone and someone is giving you advice “well you need to have all the power in a relationship. You need to have the upperhand. Personal relationships always have that dichotomy and now it takes on that form.
As much as the film is a power struggle from both sides, there are also smaller, more intimate moments that aren’t often shown because people tend to be more reserved. It’s great that you show those moments and make them just as broad.
GG: Hollywood makes movies and it typically is all about simplifying things, It’s looking at the big picture of things and I want to go the opposite direction and look at the smaller things. Let’s go to the detail. Let’s take an evening with these people and let’s look at the moments– the seconds that they have together and it’s complicated.
JLP: To add to that too… it asks a lot of the audience. It really does. Especially now in this age of Instagram and Twitter, there’s instant gratification across the board. When we watch something, we want to understand it. We want to know the meaning. This does not allow that to happen. You leave saying “it’s playing on all these different levels and layers” and you don’t know. You have to think about it. That’s so rare now for anything to be made and actually able for people to think about it.
How the film would have played out with a female lead and two supporting males and commentary on our country’s stance on age gap relations.
GG: That’s a really interesting idea… Honestly I think it would probably play out pretty similarly. I think we perhaps look at the younger boys as being maybe more cruel if the boys did what the girls did. It’s an idea to think about, where it plays back-and-forth on the fact that with this, there’s good and there’s bad, right and wrong, and they’re all right. There is no right or wrong. I’m not trying to say anything’s specifically right or wrong, regardless of whether it’s an older guy or an older woman, or younger girls and younger guys. There’s no right or wrong. They could both be equally as correct and I think it plays in on itself.
KP: You said earlier that there was no equivalent for “boys will be boys” for girls.
GG: I’ll elaborate on that. When I was conceiving the idea, I was thinking about myself as a teenager and I got into a lot of trouble. I was a bad kid and as I got older, I’m fine. I was just thinking about that when I was younger, it was “boys will be boys” when you got into some trouble. Then you could get out of it. There’s no equivalent for younger girls… There’s no “girls will be girls.” There are set expectations on younger women and they feel like they need to follow a certain guideline. That actually was very key in writing these characters who are– these girls do not follow those rules. These girls do whatever they want to do and I still think that they could be successful in life as they grow older.
JLP: There is a strong feminist ideal and it’s so important that films reflect that right now.
GG: I think these girls are incredibly strong and independent and not perfect, and that’s what makes them so cool and so special.
KP: I’m going to ask you a question. I’m curious… You’re 19-years-old, you’re obviously a bright kid, like I wish I knew what you knew at 19. Imagine this movie playing to college kids– your contemporaries… What are they going to feel? Are they going to like it? Are they going to feel like it’s a mirror, or is it going to be like a window? Are they going to see themselves? Did you see people you go to college with?
NT: Totally. I see people I went to highschool with and older people I know. I do try to be objective when I watch something and I do try to watch it from a critical standpoint, but I also let all of my experiences in life come in there. That’s something a lot of people don’t talk about either. I totally got some of your frustration when they would tease and nothing would happen. I feel like everyone has been there, men and women. I’m sure a lot of guys might watch this and see themselves as that kind of belligerent guy who’s doing whatever he can to get into bed with them. I know a ton of girls who are similar and they like to tease and play around, but never commit. They always say that women are teases and never put out, but there are a ton of guys like that too. They talk a big game, but they get there and don’t know what to do. You think a lot about your own insecurities when you’re watching this. I feel like I’ve done some things sort of like that at some point in my life. Maybe I was a bit of an asshole to that one girl, but then again is that wrong of me to feel that way after she did something like that?
KP: I think that’s the sign of a good movie. Where one can look at all of these characters and say “I’ve been there. I know what that feels like.” Then to actually have that sense memory of that– that’s why Boyhood was such a successful movie is because you were the kid. Boys and men especially, we were there. One’s mother could watch and think “oh, I’m the mother!”
Fiction, I think, is getting a lot closer to reality now, because I feel like audiences are going expecting to see more of themselves.
GG: I think that’s cool. I think you’re right. Fiction is coming more to reality and I think that what’s interesting is if you can take reality and make it better. Reality is something else and we can all explore it, but how can we make it better? That’s what makes movies special.