VOGUE — In a mad rush to get out of town, Imogen Poots is cleaning. Domestic organization has become something of a ritual for the actress before leaving her loft in New York City. “It’s so clean and lovely,” she says. “I like it to be nice when I get back, but when I’m actually living in it . . .” she trails off. Any messiness that may exist inside her apartment should be excused, though—especially this year.
Poots, 27, has been entrenched in work in 2016. The London-born talent has made stray appearances in everything from Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping(the crass, Andy Samberg–driven satire of petty, megalomaniacal celebrities) to The Promise (a true-crime documentary about a murderous love affair). Then there’s her recurring work in Roadies (Showtime’s newest music drama) and about a half-dozen performances in films (The Sleeping Shepherd, I Kill Giants) coming out next year. The A.V. Club called her a “combination starlet and workhorse.”
Poots also possesses that rare quality of being both humbled by her success while still being interested in interrogating it. “I’m an actor for hire, you know? I think the last couple of years I’ve felt extremely fulfilled with the opportunities that have come my way,” she says. “You wish to play roles that continue to offer a chance to really disappear and ask questions about the human condition.”
She certainly pulls that off in Frank & Lola, a clever neo-noir in which Poots plays a recent college graduate looking to jumpstart her career as a fashion designer. To help her do that is Frank (Michael Shannon), a supportive lover and skilled Las Vegas chef. Soon after they fall for one another, chaos comes knocking at their door. The proceedings are more sinister than romantic: a slickly crafted caper wrapped in obsession, jealousy, and revenge.
COLLIDER — From writer/director Matthew Ross, the psychosexual noir thriller Frank & Lolaexplores themes of love and sex, obsession and betrayal, and revenge and redemption. When up-and-coming chef Frank (Michael Shannon) meets aspiring fashion designer Lola (Imogen Poots), they fall hard and fast for one another, until Lola’s past becomes part of their present and jealousy pushes them to the edge of self-destruction.
During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, actress Imogen Poots talked about what intrigued her about these characters, shooting in Las Vegas, how our past affects who we are, and the experience of working with Michael Shannon. She also talked about her time on the Showtime series Roadies and why she feels a sense of closure with the story they were telling, taking on Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?as her first play, and why it was so important for her to be a part of I Kill Giants.
Collider: How did this film come your way?
IMOGEN POOTS: I was sent the script, and then I met with the director (Matt Ross), who by the way had been trying to get the film made for like 10 years, and I thought that was very admirable. So, we spoke about the film, and we spoke about the nature of love and obsession and whether sanity plays a role in that or not. I was really, really intrigued by these characters because, time and time again, you can take it back to the Greek tragedies. There’s a nobility and tragedy to people that try their best, but it doesn’t work out. I think that’s a very valuable thing to see explored through any art form.
NYLON — What happens when the person you love isn’t who you think they are? That’s the question at the heart of Frank & Lola, the debut feature film from Matthew Ross. Ross’ twisty script follows Frank (Michael Shannon), a Vegas-based chef, who begins to suspect that his flighty younger girlfriend Lola (Imogen Poots) is more than what she purports to be. An incisive portrait of male obsession, the film rides on two barnstorming performances from Shannon and Poots, whose undeniable chemistry heightens the tragedy of their doomed relationship. As Lola, Poots nails the unpredictability of a character viewers only experience from the perspective of her jealous lover; as he uncovers revelations about her past that may or may not be true, they must constantly reappraise her, unsure of the objective reality.
Ahead of the film’s release last Friday, we caught up with Poots to discuss how she inhabited such a complex and atypical character.
How did you first get involved with the film?
Well, I met the director and, first of all, he’d been trying to make this film for like 10 years, and he totally committed to it. I thought that was such an incredible thing in itself and I really love the story. What attracted me to it was really the humanity of the story, just the human condition. It was really, really tragic and that’s something a lot of us are drawn to. There’s something noble about watching people try their best, and it doesn’t work out. I just like the idea of love as an illness, love causing you to go insane and really become someone else. The idea behind it was exciting to me, that the characters could be quite rich with contradictions. That’s always enticing.
VICE — Imogen Poots and I keep circling back to the topic of being taken seriously. The 27-year-old, British-born actor starred in last year’s lauded horror film Green Room as Amber, a Nazi skinhead who fights alongside a traveling punk band to escape from a remote Nazi punk club located deep in the Oregon woods. Poots was nearly overlooked for the role because, as she tells it, director Jeremy Saulnier had seen a picture of her dressed up “in some dumb dress with some dumb hairdo and had been like, ‘What the fuck?’ It was a picture of me at a premiere or something,” she tells me by phone from her home in New York City. “And Jeremy had been like, ‘Nah, whatever.'”
It’s hard to blame someone for not immediately seeing the gorgeous actor as the natural choice to play a skinhead, but those who would attempt to pigeonhole Poots as belonging only in certain kinds of roles are bound for disappointment. Poots’s list of films reads like she’s playing a game of genre-film bingo. She’s done horror before (28 Days Later, Fright Night), in addition to comic-book adaptations (V for Vendetta), indie charmers (Greetings from Tim Buckley), big-budget action films (Need for Speed), and romantic comedies (That Awkward Moment). The one constant is the graceful maturity she is capable of bringing to every role, a quality on full display in her role as Lola in writer-director Matthew Ross’s Frank & Lola, in theaters December 9. The film, which co-stars Michael Shannon as Frank, is a psychosexual noir centered on a couple in the midst of a passionate love affair who both make mistakes that destroy their trust in each other.
As the film begins, I experience a flicker of concern that what I’m about to see is something I’ve seen before—a film ostensibly about a relationship, that ends up actually being about a man in love with a caricature of a woman, always beautiful, always bathed in soft, twinkling lights, her nature revealed only through the penetrating gaze of her male counterpart. But I should have put more trust in Imogen Poots: a woman committed to being more than just a pretty face, an actor who demands to be taken seriously.
Imogen was yesterday at AOL Build with Frank & Lola director Matthew Ross, where they spoke about the movie. Thanks to Luciana, from Jeffrey Dean Morgan Web, i’ve added to the gallery photos from the duo. You can now watch the full interview bellow!