Actors Rose Byrne and Chris O’Dowd sat down with uInterview to talk about their upcoming film Juliet, Naked. Based on the novel by Nick HornbyJuliet, Naked tells the story of Annie (Byrne) who has grown weary of both her hometown and her long-term boyfriend Duncan (O’Dowd), whose obsession with obscure rocker Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke) has constantly driven a wedge between them. When Tucker releases the acoustic demo of his hit record from 25 years ago, Annie writes a scathing review that leads Tucker to contact her, changing all three of their lives forever. In this exclusive interview, Byrne and O’Dowd discuss Juliet, Naked, celebrity in the internet age, fan obsession and art ownership.

O’Dowd thinks that the film is not truly a meditation on celebrity, but rather on fan culture. He said that fans in the internet age have a “propensity to be ‘you are what you like’, rather than ‘you are what you do’ or ‘you are how you feel’.” O’Dowd adds philosophically that he thinks that in this vast “library” of the internet it is “easier” for people to latch onto a piece of media, artist or celebrity and say, “this is what I like, and therefore, that’s who I am.”

When asked “who owns art?,” Byrne immediately relates the question to a scene in Juliet where Duncan tells Tucker that he doesn’t care what he thinks of his album, that it belongs to the fans. Byrne agrees with this statement and says that this is true of any piece of art, “that it does belong to everybody else. That that’s the deal you make with people when you release something.” She believes that this sentiment is a hallmark of Hornby’s writing.

Juliet, Naked is directed by Jesse Peretz and written by Evgenia Peretz, Jim Taylor and Tamara Jenkins. The author, Nick Hornby, is an executive producer. Juliet, Naked comes out in theaters Friday, August 17, 2018.

Full interview transcript:

Erik: First off, congratulations on the film. Why don’t we set the scene; Rose if you could talk a little bit about your character Annie and about what she’s facing at the start of the film and then Chris, tell us a little bit about your character Duncan.

Rose: So, we’ve been in a long relationship. Chris’ character Duncan is obsessed with Tuck Crow, this sort of reclusive musician sort of like a Jeff Buckley type and it slowly eroded this long relationship, his obsession, and unwillingness to sort of grow up and get over it and not put it first in their lives and she starts to get very contemptuous. Tucker releases this…

Chris: It’s like this acoustic version of the original album called Juliet, Naked.

Rose: Yes, Annie writes a scathing review on the blog that Duncan has for all the rabid fans and Tucker, himself, gets in touch and we kinda go from there.

Erik: So the film seems to be a meditation about celebrity and the internet and age. What do you think it has to say on that issue, and what do you think about how the internet is affecting the world of celebrity?

Chris: I mean I don’t think it really is ruminating on celebrities as much as it is an obsession with kind of art or entertainment. I don’t think Tucker at any stage would be considered a celebrity, other than he is in the truer words, incredibly celebrated within my heart. But, I think it does speak to this increasingly male, and I think also female, propensity to be “You are what you like,” rather than “You are what you do or you are and how you feel.” There’s so much content of entertainment now and increasingly so that it’s easier to throw a hoop around a certain amount of different projects or artists or singers or reality stars or whoever, and say this is what I like and this is who I am. I don’t really know why that is, but I’m sure that the internet has something to do with this because it’s such a vast library in front of us, it’s so intoxicating.

Erik: There’s also this question of who owns art in the film, which I think is a really interesting one. Rose, why don’t you talk a little bit about that? 

Rose: Yea, I actually love that speech that Duncan gives. Ultimately, this album isnt for you, it’s for the fans and I don’t care if you don’t think it’s worthy because it is; and I love that speech, it’s one of my favorites in the whole scene. I really believe that sentiment. I think that once you make something, it kinda does belong to everybody else. That’s the deal you make when you release something and I kind of believe that Tuck’s self hatred is all tied into the album and so on and so forth and it’s very endearing to Duncan’s character when he says that. It’s the real Nick Hornby moment, that’s his voice.

Erik: Have you two ever had that experience where one of your fans thought that your character… they sort of had some ownership towards it?

Rose: No, i’ve never… You know I’ve worked with Brad Pitt years ago and I remember the fans around him were extraordinary and the ownership they felt over him was…

Chris: And I did apologize for that.

Rose: Well after the restraining order. That sort of rabid fan thing, it’s intense, you know, I’ve been near it and people go crazy. I’ve managed to remain pretty unlikeable.

Chris: I did a play with James Franco and Franco used to get a lot of it and there was one point where there was a lot of teenage girls in our audience and every now and again he’d walk out on stage and one of them would shout “JAMES FRANCO!” And you could tell that it wasn’t something that she had planned. It was really bizarre. Not even like an “I love you” or whatever, just his name.

Erik: On that note, congratulations on the film.