Jenna Fischer & Chris Messina On 'Giant Mechanical Man'
You know her as the beloved Pam Beesly on NBC’s The Office, but now Emmy nominee Jenna Fisher is starring opposite Six Feet Under's Chris Messina in The Giant Mechanical Man, playing at the Tribeca Film Festival. Fischer, neé Regina Marie Fischer, was born in Indiana and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, where she began her acting career and met her former husband, writer James Gunn. Prior to acting, Fischer dabbled in some administrative work, which made her perfect for her part as Pam on The Office. Her talent has always been based in comedy, as displayed in her self-directed, written and starred, feature mockumentary, Lollilove, and she has recently been featured in a number of slapstick comedies such as Blades of Glory, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and Hall Pass. Fisher met her husband, director Lee Kirk, while working on Mechanical Man. The two of have one child, Weston Lee, together.
Unlike his co-star, Chris Messina is a New York native, born and raised in Northport. Messina is notable for his boyfriend/husband roles that struggle with being in a relationship with a strong-willed female in films such as Ira and Abby, Julie and Julia, and Vicky Christina Barcelona. Messina also appeared on nine episodes of the FX original series, Damages. Messina has two children, Milo and Giovanni with his girlfriend Jennifer Todd.
Mechanical Man, Kirk’s first feature film, is an imaginative romantic comedy revolving around the relationship between a zoo worker (Fischer) and a street performer (Messina). “Lee wrote the movie for me and in the writing process we ended up falling in love and got married,” Fischer told Uinterview exclusively. Messina, for his part, admired Fischer's naturalistic acting style, “Jenna doesn’t push as an actress at all,” he says, adding: “She’s just as she is now—she’s just very simple and honest.” The film co-stars Topher Grace, Malin Akerman, Lucy Punch and Rich Sommer.
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- Q: What do you think the overall message of this film is? - Uinterview
- A: CHRIS: I think it's about being seen and someone seeing you and accepting you for who you are. That's one of the reasons I wanted to do the movie. That theme is super important to me and it rang really true in the script. JENNA: And I think the simplicity of that and yet the profound effect it has on your life if you have someone who really sees you and just, in life we're always pursuing, we have all these ambitions in life and life is hard and things can be difficult, but if you just have one person, it's not that all your problems go away, but it makes it easier to endure them.
- Q: Did you model your characters after yourself or other people you know? - Uinterview
- A: JENNA: My character's kind of based on me. I spent a lot of years struggling with figuring out who I was in the world and I had a lot of dreams but I was very shy and very unsure. So Janice is very much me during those struggling years. So I kind of based her on myself. CHRIS: Same with me. A lot of the stuff with Tim was based on my acting career and just acting in general. Trying to be a part of something that often felt like it didn't want me to be a part of, that kind of struggle of any young artist.
- Q: Jenna, what was it like to work with your husband, Lee Kirk, the director of this film? - Uinterview
- A: JENNA: It definitely changed my performance. It was very exciting to work with my husband. This film is how we met and fell in love. He wrote the movie for me and in the writing process we ended up falling in love and got married. So six months after we got married we were shooting the film finally. It was amazing because, knowing me so intimately, he could come up and whisper something in my ear, some note or some direction that I could respond to in a way that it would be very difficult for another director to get that same performance because they don't know me as well. So that was exciting to have. It was so neat to have a director who could just know exactly how to affect you emotionally on any level. CHRIS: He could diffuse your anxieties and he could use your anxieties, and all the stuff going on inside you, it was really cool.
- Q: Was there a moment on set that sums up the experience of working on this film? - Uinterview
- A: JENNA: I love the diner scene. I absolutely love that scene. CHRIS: That's my favorite scene that I got to do. JENNA: It was just two people talking to each other. CHRIS: It was quiet. JENNA: And connecting. It feels the most real, most honest work that I think I've ever done. CHRIS: You're great in that scene. You're amazing in that scene. It's hard acting with her because she makes everybody look like they're acting around her because she's so real and so I often would be looking at her thinking, 'What am I doing? Because I'm overdoing it.' She's so honest. Jenna doesn't push as an actress at all, she's just as she is now – she's just very simple and honest. But that scene in particular was really fun because there's silences – I love the writing in that scene. JENNA: I do, too.
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