Q&A: Rene Russo on Jake, sex scenes and working with her husband

Supporting Actress Oscar Contenders

After several years away from the big screen, Rene Russo, 60, returned with a killer role: as an overzealous news producer opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in “Nightcrawler.” The movie, which was written and directed by her husband, Dan Gilroy, has drawn comparisons to “Network” for its searing indictment of the news business.

Have you read the reviews?
No. If you believe the bad ones …  (sighs). It’s a no-win situation. I said, Danny, don’t tell me. Everyone knows not to talk to me about it. For me, it’s just healthier.

Why did you take the role?
I didn’t love Nina at first. She scared the hell out of me. I thought, why didn’t she just walk away from the table during the restaurant scene? I’d walk away from the table so fast, I’d rather be on the street. And then I realized she was desperate. If you were alone and you had to depend on yourself, what moral boundaries would you cross?

Who’s in control, him or her?
I always felt that I was in control in an odd way. That’s what I had in mind when I played her. I wanted to make her human. There’s a sociopath in all of us. I think we’re all on the spectrum of sociopath in some ways. We all do things where we don’t care about other people. And we deal with it in whatever ways we can, denial or make excuses.

The movie didn’t show any sex scenes between them.
There were people who wanted to finance the movie if we showed a sex scene. And Danny felt, as I did, that there was nothing we could show that would be as interesting or dramatic as what the audience was imagining. I said I was reading him “Goodnight, Moon.”

Did you enjoy being directed by your husband?
He encouraged us to explore and try to find our way. Anywhere we didn’t agree happened before we got on the set. Except the first day, he said, “I think you’re being too sexy with Lou.” And I thought, “No, I’m not!” She’s in a male-dominated world. She’s always used her sexuality in some ways. Naturally she learned how to do that. I knew where I was going to go with that. So I said, “Yeah, yeah, OK , I hear you” — and did what I was going to do. Sometimes you have to do that with directors.

Any more roles on the horizon?
I don’t have any big plans; I don’t have one script sitting on the coffee table, not one. If something comes around that would be a challenge, then that would be wonderful. But if it’s a watered-down version of something I’ve already done, I’d rather do something else. I’ve got a drought-tolerant garden; I’ve got a company crazy as it sounds, we make yogurt. There are actors who have to act no matter what, but I don’t want to do it just for the sake of doing it.

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