Julia Louis-Dreyfus was nominated for a Golden Globe last week for her performance in “Enough Said,” but she revealed at TheWrap’s Award Series screening of the critically acclaimed film that she’s hoping the role will bring her more than just gold from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
Most famous for her role as Elaine on “Seinfeld” (which earned her a Golden Globe in 1994), and most recently Vice President Selina Meyer on HBO’s “Veep” — for which she also received a Golden Globe nomination this year — the 52-year-old actress has primarily been given opportunities to showcase her comedic chops.
But she “absolutely” hopes to branch out into drama after delivering an emotional performance opposite late co-star James Gandolfini.
“Hopefully this film will open up doors to that end,” Louis-Dreyfus told TheWrap’s editor-in-chief Sharon Waxman during the Q&A session. “You get pegged a certain way. And it’s nice to get pegged, and have the opportunity to get pegged — believe me, I’m not complaining — but it’s also nice to open up other doors.”
Louis-Dreyfus takes the lead in writer and director Nicole Holofcener’s mature comedy as a divorced masseuse falling for a man (Gandolfini) who, coincidentally, turns out to be a new friend’s ex-husband. While the role called for plenty of comedic timing, it also required the actress to be more emotionally vulnerable on camera than ever before.
“There was a kind of vanity that I had to let go of to play this part,” said Louis-Dreyfus, who did not wear makeup during production. “I said to somebody, ‘I’m really happy that audiences are responding to this movie, because it was such a personal, private expression. I would have felt like a horses ass if they didn’t.'”
The audience at the Landmark Theatre in West Los Angeles certainly responded well, roaring in laughter during the comedic moments, watching in silence when the drama unfolded, and then holding back tears when Louis-Dreyfus shed them on the big screen.
“Enough Said” is hard to label with a specific genre, as it passes through the entire emotional spectrum by the end of its 93-minute runtime. Above all, it feels real, so defining it as a simple romantic comedy seems reductive.
“I didn’t approach it as a drama or comedy. I just approached it,” Louis-Dreyfus said. “I understood the voice, I understood Nicole’s tone. I knew what we were going for. A smallness, a rawness had to be captured.”
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She seems so natural in the role, that it would be easy to assume that Holofcener wrote the part just for her.
“I didn’t write it for Julia,” Holofcener said. “It’s hard to believe because I don’t think I’d want anyone else in there.”
Part of the magic of the movie rests squarely on the chemistry between Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini, who also broke out of a mold that had defined his career for so long. Best known as Tony Soprano on six seasons of HBO’s mobster drama “The Sopranos,” Gandolfini matches Louis-Dreyfus’ wit and vulnerability in every scene they share.
“Whatever is funny in there, they made it funnier,” Holofcener said of the duo’s ability to improvise. “Whatever is dramatic, they made it more dramatic.”
Gandolfini died last June at 51 after suffering a heart attack in Italy. He’ll grace the big screen one last time next year in a crime drama called “Animal Rescue,” but audiences should certainly remember his sweet and sensitive performance in “Enough Said” for years to come, particularly his family, because it was a much more accurate representation of the kind of man the actor actually was.
“They loved seeing him like this,” Holofcener said. “I wish he had seen the movie, because he was so certain that he was miscast.”
“It’s bizarre that he’s not with us. I think we both feel that he might just show up. Because we all got to know each other very, very well. It’s, of course, tragically sad,” Louis-Dreyfus said. “Having said that, I think his performance is something to celebrate. People didn’t really know that he could do this gentle, beautiful thing. It’s a triumph for him, his friends and his family.”