AVC: You were going to say something about playing moms?
AW: It’s so boring. I’m not even going to talk about the pedestrian writers. I’m only going to talk about the really good writers and scripts. Americans have a hard time writing moms. I’ll get a script and everything's really great, everything’s well-drawn, but the mom is like this character, like stock footage, they go and get that out. They plug it in, this idea of "mother." You could lift moms out of any script, no matter what the culture, what the neighborhood, what the economic status, even if it’s a period mom, and you could switch them around, and they’d be the same person. I think it’s because most people don’t really have a human idea, a specific life that they attach to who their mother was. Their mother was there for them, so it either gets deified, or the opposite. That Mommie Dearest kind of thing. We love them or we don’t, or we rebel, but we can’t see who they are. That they are a person in life with taste, with sexuality, with opinions, who is pissy also, who has a right to not be the big tit for you every time you want something. And then we leave, and we go off to college or off into the world to work—you really appreciate your mom then. But there’s that big chunk when you don’t know your mom’s faults, desires, wishes, distastes.
It’s tough, because you’re always going to be playing moms. You really have to work to find the person, because they’re not really written a lot. You’re a device in a person’s life, a device in that story. In real life, most people I know are moms, but writing them, I could never reduce them to "mom." It’s like, she does this and this and this—oh yeah, and she’s got kids. They’re interesting, vital, crazy, fucked-up, wonderful, awful, really attractive, and also repulsive people doing wild things and mundane things. And we never see them on film or on television.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Moms in Film: A Device in the Story
From an interview with Alfre Woodard at the A.V. Club: