Betsy Brandt, who is best known for starring on Breaking Bad, now stars in the dramatic thriller Claire in Motion, which premiered at the SXSW film festival earlier this month.

Betsy Brandt On ‘Claire In Motion’

In Claire in Motion, Brandt plays the titular character, whose husband disappears under circumstances that reveal themselves to be stranger by the day. As an ornithologist, Paul often goes off on brief adventures into the wilderness, but never fails to return home when he says he will. When Paul misses the date on which he was to arrive back home from an excursion, Claire spearheads efforts to locate him that ultimately uncover a number of surprises about the husband she thought she knew.

“I think Claire really thought she knew all the variables in her life, and then realizes that she didn’t,” Brandt told uInterview of her character. “Maybe she didn’t know her husband so well, maybe she didn’t know herself so well. And it’s a really beautiful story. I’m very, very proud of it.”

Brandt is wary of putting herself in Claire’s shoes and making definitive statements about what she would have done in her situation. And, if Brandt could hazard a guess, she imagines that Claire would have had trouble predicting her own reaction to her husband disappearing and leaving a trail of secrets in his wake.

“I don’t think that Claire would have guessed that she would have struggled in the way that she did, or maybe couldn’t even let herself grieve in the way that she struggled with grieving, and how she reacted to the information that she learned about her husband, things that she didn’t know,” Brandt mused. “I love that moment in the film when he leaves in the morning and he says, ‘You know me.’ And it’s like, that comes back, those famous last words, right?”

For Brandt, one of the most profound moments of filming the emotionally weighty Claire in Motion came during a physical day of shooting. It was on this day that Brandt was led to a significant decision as an actress; she decided that Claire no longer had any remaining hope that she’d find Paul alive.

“I remember there was a moment, we were hiking, it was a really long day, and we were shooting in the woods, and fighting the rain. And, you know, it was not an easy day. And I just had a feeling that like I know that she knows he’s in there,” Brandt said. “It just became crystal clear to me that she knew where he was and that he was dead and… And I think that realization was so difficult because I realized the hope was over for her. And then I had to play that the rest of the movie.”

Claire in Motion, written and directed by Annie J. Howell and Lisa Robinson, also stars Chris Beetem, Zev Haworth, Anna Margaret Hollyman and Sakina Jaffrey.


Q: Where is your character at the start of the movie? -

It’s set in a small college town in the Midwest. They are both professors. Claire’s a math professor and her husband is an ornithology professor. He does these survivalist hikes and goes for a couple days at a time, and he always comes back on time and he does not return. And they have a twelve-year-old son, and so it’s the journey for… You know, it’s about Claire and their son and trying to piece things together and trying to find him. And then, she really, you know, I think Claire really thought she knew all the variables in her life, and then realizes that she didn’t. Maybe she didn’t know her husband so well, maybe she didn’t know herself so well. And it’s a really beautiful story. I’m very, very proud of it.

Q: Have you ever had a big relationship surprise like Claire does in the movie? -

For me, it was like an even bigger picture, where I remember… I don’t remember what age I was where I’m like, ‘You can ask me what I’m going to do in that situation, and I can tell you what I think I would do,’ whereas when I was younger, it was like, ‘I know for sure what I would do’ – and you don’t, you don’t know until you’re in that situation. I don’t think that Claire would have guessed that she would have struggled in the way that she did, or maybe couldn’t even let herself grieve in the way that she struggled with grieving. And how she reacted to the information that she learned about her husband, things that she didn’t know. I love that moment in the film when he leaves in the morning and he says, ‘You know me.’ And it’s like, that comes back, those famous last words, right? The film has all of that and then there’s this suspense to it. It feels like a thriller. It’s like a slow-burn kind of suspense instead of some huge crazy car chase.

Q: What was your favorite scene? -

I’m sorry, we haven’t shot in a while and I still get very emotional about it. I had a moment where… Because the entire time she’s trying to make sense of everything. And so to me it was… Now that I’ve seen the film, I love watching her try to piece that together. When we were shooting it, I would wrestle with these things because you have to make a decision as an actor as to what she believes and what her reality is. And I remember there was a moment, we were hiking, it was a really long day, and we were shooting in the woods, and fighting the rain. And, you know, it was not an easy day. And I just had a feeling that like I know that she knows he’s in there. It just became crystal clear to me that she knew where he was and that he was dead and… And I think that realization was so difficult because I realized the hope was over for her. And then I had to play that the rest of the movie, but… Yeah, I think probably that. A lot of great days too. And a lot of the great days were, you know, material that was heart-wrenching material, but I trusted these directors just immensely. Immensely. I mean, I say it’s a quiet, beautiful film and that’s exactly how I pictured it but I—I couldn’t, you know. It’s funny, you know, Annie Howell, one of the directors, she just said, ‘Thank you for trusting us, and giving us so much.’ And I said, ‘Well, we had to.’ Because at the time, like, you don’t know what you’re going to need in that moment. You know, it’s the same thing. You can think you know what you’re going to need but even just the slightest adjustment, you know, might be the perfect moment in that scene or at that point in your story. I just trusted them immensely.