Last week the new film ‘Christine’ got its New York debut after screening earlier this year at Sundance.
‘Christine’ is about the last days of Christine Chubbuck’s life, a local television news reporter in the 1970s who committed suicide on a live broadcast by putting a gun to her head. The original tape is infamously held under wraps (though allegedly located earlier this June), but the new movie offers a delicate look at the psychology of the woman as well as her final moments. After the screening, Hall sat down for a Q&A about the film hosted by Alina Cho and Rosanna Scotto.
What was it about Christine that attracted you to the role?
Rebecca Hall: The thing that got me was it was about someone desperately trying to live—not about their death—it was about someone trying to live with a debilitating mental illness and personal and professional disappointment…and a really extreme sense of isolation.
How would you describe Christine and what’s going on inside of her head?
RH: I had to concentrate on trying not to “otherize” Christine and not put her in the box of “she’s crazy” and did something so violent, therefore she’s evil and so wrong—all that thinking I had to dispense with and try to find a way to normalize it. Because every life is worthy of consideration and the truth is…the truth is we all know what it’s like to be stymied at worth. This story is not so far away from all of us. We all know what it’s like to feel depressed from time to time. What we’re all bad at admitting is that if it were not for arbitrary circumstances, of gender, time and place, social and historical context, and brain chemistry, we all have the potential to go over the edge. Not in this way, in a way. Making that relatable…when you say explain her—I don’t know. There’s a problem with the context and how we view women, and how the ‘70s viewed women. She wasn’t good at playing the game of being a woman—she was resolutely herself. And she didn’t know. She comes across to me as someone desperately terrified that she was “off” in some way and performing what she thought was normal.
Some of my favorite scenes in the film have to do with her infatuation or love with her co-worker (played by Michael C. Hall). Why do you think that relationship was never able to happen?
RH: Yeah, I don’t think it was ever going to happen. I find that a really heartbreaking part of the story. That was based on some fact, she did have a crush on her coworker—that part we found out by going to Sarasota and speaking to her coworkers and friends. It always struck me as interesting, to play someone who was in such profound pain and having such a constant dialogue with herself about how bad she was doing at being her and how much the world is seeing her, and how closed off she is. I found it—it was a really interesting point in the movie, that underneath all the exteriors and the brittleness, she is stuck in a prepubescent sort of romanticism. I have to say, I’m really proud to play a woman in a film who is not sexually viable and not saved by a man, because it’s really rare.
Christine opens in theaters on October 14th.