Greta Gerwig Talks Creating Confident Female Characters at ‘Mistress America’ L.A. Premiere

Greta Gerwig on Confident Female Characters,
Michael Buckner/Variety/Rex Shutterstock

Creative duo Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach stepped out for the Los Angeles premiere of their new film “Mistress America” at the Ace Hotel on Friday as part of Sundance Next Fest.

In addition to starring in the film, Gerwig co-wrote the screenplay with Baumbach, who also directed. Gerwig spoke to a special moment in the film when Tracy (Lola Kirke), a college freshman, opens up about having extremely high, possibly unwarranted levels of confidence. “I love when they’re talking to each other and (Tracy) says, ‘If I could just figure out my look, I’d be the most beautiful woman in the world.’ That’s also a condition of being 18,” Gerwig told Variety. “Unless you’re one of the people who went to the Olympics, everything you’re going to do is in front of you. And you don’t really know what you’re going to do, and of course you’re ambitious.”

The filmmaker and actress, who will soon helm her first solo project, “Lady Bird,” continued to talk about why creating such a bold female character is exciting. “I feel like so often, for male characters too, but especially for female characters, an 18-year-old ingenue type of girl never gets to say, ‘Sometimes I think I’m just smarter and better than everyone else.’ That’s kind of a great thing. (At 18) you feel both completely insecure and like the dumbest person in the room, and like you’re maybe the best at the same time. I like confidence that’s not totally based on anything.”

Gerwig also mentioned that her character, Brooke, an eccentric and untameable force, is somewhat based on personal experience. “I’ve had a few people in my life who had elements of Brooke. But she’s really an amalgamation of people I’ve known and Noah’s known, and fictional stuff too.”

Other notable guests at the L.A. premiere included director Jason Reitman as well as Fox Searchlight execs Steve Gilula and Claudia Lewis, Mark and Jay Duplass, Miranda July and musician Sky Ferreira.

Gerwig’s co-star in the film, Kirke, is a relative newcomer, having recently acted in “Gone Girl” and the Amazon series “Mozart in the Jungle.” The actress also spoke to her character’s candid tendencies. “I think that’s such a cool part of Noah’s writing,” she said. “He is so good at finding something that would normally repulse us in people and making it charming.”

And as for working with Baumbach and Gerwig, Kirke said the key is to stick to the script. “They write really good dialogue for actors, and they’re very particular about saying those words and nothing else — there’s no improv.”

Check out the complete red-carpet coverage by following Variety on Snapchat at mannie.variety.