Twelve years after “Saved,” Jena Malone returned to the Sundance Film Festival with “Lovesong.” The in-competition drama, which premiered on Monday and is directed by So Yong Kim, tells the story of two college friends (Malone and Riley Keough) who reunite over two specific time periods. Malone talked to Variety about making the film, wrapping her “Hunger Games” character and rumors that she might be joining “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” as Robin.
Was “Saved” the last time you were at Sundance?
I was thinking about “Saved” the other day. I was thinking about how many films I’ve been pregnant in [Malone is pregnant in real life], and how inaccurate it was. I was like, “Wow — I didn’t know that.”
How did you come across the script for “Lovesong”?
So and I have been friends for a while. I worked on her film “For Ellen.” That’s how it came to me. My band was playing in New York, and she brought her kids. And she was like, “Hey, I’m working on this thing, do you want to make a film this year?” I said, “Yeah let’s do it.”
Did you improvise?
Here’s the thing with children. You can work with a script as much as you want, but all bets are off. What’s really interesting about the films that So makes and why she has a following is that she’s mastered the art of silence. Everything was pretty much scripted. Every scene was written down. But it could just be a sentence. She’s an internal writer, because she likes adding the idea of chaos to things.
There’s an ongoing conversation in Hollywood about women in film. “Lovesong” has a nearly all female cast and crew.
For me, filmmaking is a microcosm of life. I always feel like filmmaking becomes a reflection of the society we live in. I don’t pay that much attention to what’s happening within filmmaking. Even this film, there’s a lot to be heralded: female director, mostly female cast, two young female actors, female producers, a female D.P. I didn’t even think about it. It wasn’t until we were on the red carpet for the premiere that I said, “Oh, we’re all women.” The best person does the job to tell the story.
But I think many people in Hollywood feel like women aren’t given a fair chance to tell their stories.
But that speaks for the society. Women aren’t getting the best things. How many women are in Congress? Filmmaking is not a perfect art. It’s a sponge; as much as we put into it of our own wants and desires, we’ll get out of it. Whenever people are unsatisfied with the equality of filmmaking, I think about the society that creates it. If it were an equal society, then it would be really f—ed. But we’re not equal yet. We’re in flux. It’s an interesting flux. I notice it less because as a powerful woman, you don’t think about those things. You just imagine them as normal. I think sometimes the less we know about what we should be going through, the better. It allows this new generation to go, “It’s not a struggle to be a woman — we just are.”
Are you going to miss making “Hunger Games” movies?
No. As an actor, you come into it wanting to tell a story. I feel like we got to tell a really incredible story. It would be weird if the story never finished. It’s more you miss the friends. But L.A. is such a small town, you see them anyway.
You’ve been acting for most of your life. Do you feel like “The Hunger Games” movies changed the trajectory of your career?
I don’t think I should ever be aware of the direction my career is going. That’s not for me to decide.
But the films introduced you to a new generation of fans.
I got to know a younger generation in an intimate way and got to know their passions in a way I never knew before. Working with “Hunger Games” made me have an appreciation and awe of them that I didn’t have before. I was so inspired by their want of truth and their undulating passion for things. What’s really amazing is that it made me feel, as an artist, to change gears a bit. Who am I making things for? I feel like it was more selfish [before]. I wanted to make films that I would be affected by instead of films that would plant seeds that would bring change or embrace revolution.
Is it true that you’re in “Batman v Superman”?
I mean, at this point, I don’t even know. You’re like, “Is that an answer?” It’s what you’re going to get right now.