Toronto Star re: I Smile Back

Here’s yesterday’s Toronto Star interview with Sarah. I Smile Back is now playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, in Toronto, Canada.


“I saw a DVD extra of The Shining,” Silverman explained during a chat with the Star during TIFF, where I Smile Back screened in September.

“Jack Nicholson said: ‘Y’know, if I have a take on a scene and the director has a different take on the scene, I always go with the director’s idea, because then I don’t become predictable.’ And I always remember that and I thought, that’s what I’m going to do,” said Silverman.

“Because I always feel like I know best. For better or for worse.”

As a tribute to her recently deceased mother, theatre director and producer Beth Ann O’Hara, Silverman was wearing O’Hara’s paint-spattered denim coveralls as she talked about how she approached three scenes in I Smile Back, opening Dec. 5 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

This interview has been edited and condensed [by the Star].

As a tribute to her recently deceased mother, Silverman was wearing O’Hara’s paint-spattered denim coveralls as she talked about how she approached three scenes in ‘I Smile Back.’

Making a marriage work onscreen

A lot of it was what a great actor (Josh Charles as husband Bruce) is and what a pro he is and how supportive he was of me and what a cheerleader he was of me. As actors tend to say — and I usually roll my eyes and now I get it — he was so generous. As was Tommy Sadowski (Laney’s lover); I really had everything going for me in terms of having the best possible opportunity to do OK in this because of them. Director Adam Salky and (writers) Amy Koppelman and Paige Dylan really kept an eye on me not (getting) access to my bag of tricks. I think most comics and even a lot of actors have that bag of tricks that they go to, even subconsciously, and so they helped restrain me from that. I think it was the smartest choice for me to not go with my own instincts; to always go with the director’s instincts and just trust that was a good way for me to get out of my own self.

Looking for reality under water and in rehab

The dramatic shower scene or the going underwater in the bathtub scene, I fought it. And detoxing! These were all the things that were in the script and I don’t know if I succeeded in making them different. But also you want them to be as real as possible. Like with the detox, I really got firsthand play-by-plays from close friends who detoxed in rehab. Because I didn’t want to only do detox drawing from other movies and television, which I think a lot of acting, writing, directing comes from. Sometimes I’ll watch something and go, “you only know that from other movies! It’s not in real life.” But I tried to make it as real as possible and not drawn from other pieces of art.

Sarah Silverman stars as 'Laney' in 'I Smile Back' and took advice from close friends to make dramatic scenes as real as possible.

Playing mommy

We were so lucky. Working with those kids (Skylar Gaertner and Shayne Coleman played Laney’s and Bruce’s children) was so easy and again they made it easy for me. Shayne, her acting is so natural because she’s not even acting. She just walks into a scene and she doesn’t know her lines but she just reacts organically and we would just kind of work around it. There’s a moment where she’s talking about how sugar is not good for you because it’s bad energy food and I said, please be shooting this! Because that’s the gold. Recognizing what the gold is with kids is really ideal. And Skylar, he is just a real actor this kid. You can tell he’s going to be one of those Ron Howard kids because he was so fascinated with every aspect of the movie. It felt natural. I love kids. So my little chance to be a mom, you know?

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