Laughs, smoothies and a great cast–the recipe to a great set experience according to Judy Greer and Isabella Amara.
It’s hard to imagine that at the tender age of eighteen, you’d be working with not one, but two two-time Academy Award-nominated actors. But that’s exactly what happened to newcomer Isabella Amara, who before her starring role in “Wilson” mostly had supporting roles (most memorably as the fifteen-year-old version of Melissa McCarthy’s character Michelle in “The Boss”).
But now with some experience under the belt working with Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern, the upcoming “Spider-Man: Homecoming” star will surely have a much easier time honing her craft. Joining her to discuss their time working on “Wilson” is the affable Judy Greer (“Jurassic World,” among a slew of others), who is poised to return to the screen with Harrelson in their upcoming sci-fi/action flick “War for the Planet of the Apes” this year.
With both Greer and Amara next set to appear in their respective big-budget, blockbuster genre films, the two actresses took the time out of their day to delve into how they were cast, what interested them in the indie dramedy and what it was like working with the charmingly hilarious Woody Harrelson.
Sometimes, A Smoothie is All You Need
When you walk on set with two venerable actors in tow, it’s understandable to have some butterflies. For even the prolific Judy Greer–who has appeared in over forty films–was nervous around the lauded Harrelson. “Often the director and the star set the tone when you go onto a set, so you don’t really know what you’re walking into” said Greer.
The lovable actress went on to reflect, “you never know what to expect from the movie star on the first day but Woody walked up to me and handed me a smoothie so I thought, we’re gonna be okay [laughs].” It was certainly a great moment not only for Greer but Amara too, who seemed to have had a great time working on the film. “It was amazing. Everyone got along perfectly. It was harmonious and artistically accepting.” revealed the nascent Amara. Greer went on to say, “Craig [Johnson’s] directing style is so calm, personal and emotional. And it was an aggressive shooting schedule–something like 30 days and 58 locations and I never once felt rushed.” Amara quickly agreed, “I never felt rushed either!”
Improv Can Sometimes Be the Key to a Great Scene
When you shoot a film, let alone a comedy, it’s important to have a fluid, congenial and compatible relationship amongst the cast and crew. And letting loose and diverging from the script can sometimes ease tensions and let everyone creatively breathe, something that seems to be vital to capturing hilarity on camera. So it comes as no surprise that that is exactly what happened on the set of “Wilson.”
Amara jubilantly confirmed, “We did [improvise].” The young actor went on to say, “it varied depending on the scene and the importance of the scene to the plot but we definitely were allowed to improvise. It was cool and nice.” Greer added, “it’s fun to do. Sometimes the improv is good to get you into a mood to say the lines right.”
Harrelson seemed to have also been a big proponent to improvising a few of the scenes, noting, “I always believe in some improv. It depends on the director–some of them are not really into it. And even then you try to insist on it in a subtle way.” The actor went on to sing his praises toward improvising, adding “I do feel like sometimes you catch stuff from improvising. It’s not always great, but sometimes you catch something that’s more real and honest. That moment is improved because of that.”
Experience, Experience, Experience
Becoming an actor is not easy. It requires dedication, talent and an undying motivation to succeed. Many actors take decades before they reach their zenith, working tirelessly to hone their craft. But when a young performer has two of some of the greatest actors Hollywood has to offer working alongside them, it’s easy to imagine that that experience is indispensable.
Amara explains, “I think from this film, I learned a lot from everyone to just relax and have fun. I mean there’s so much rejection in this industry,” to which Greer chimed in to riotously add, “honey… you have no idea. So much. So much [laughs].” An unfazed Amara continued, “anyway…I think everyone taught me on the set to just have fun with it and go towards one’s playful side as opposed to taking it so seriously that it stresses you out about work.”
Continuing to commend her time on the “Wilson” set, Amara said, “everyone on the set is the best listener in the entire world when it comes to acting. It really just helped me get out of my head, a hundred percent.” Judy Greer felt compelled to agree and applaud Amara’s acting and professional prowess. “Everyone was really blown away by her. She’d never been on set as a lead before and that was really major. A lot of people all say–cause Isabella might not–‘oh my god, how is this even possible? How could she be this professional and relax?'” Amara appeared over the moon at Greer’s praise, replying, “it means so much to me to hear that from Judy.”