Fabianne Therese is an actress known for roles in Starry Eyes (2014) and John Dies at the End (2012), whose latest film ‘Teenage Cocktail’ is now in release. A gracious talent, we recently had the opportunity to ask her about the movie, her role, and her thoughts on women in film.
Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. To get started, can you tell us, who is Fabianne Therese?
I’m a nerd who loves cinema, theater and reading.
How did you become involved in Teenage Cocktail?
I had worked with producer Travis Stevens a few times before and he had set me up with John (Director John Carchietta). They sent me the script while I was on vacation in Nicaragua and I really loved it but also had a lot of ideas and didn’t want to do it unless I would have a lot of control over shaping the character. John was so open to my ideas and we really just vibed right away on it.
You play Jules, one of two high school girls in the story. Tell us about her and what drew you to the role.
Well originally they didn’t know if they wanted me for Jules or Annie. John had said he wanted someone who could play both roles convincingly for both parts because they’re not actually that separate from one another. In the end I felt a strong desire to make Jules relatable and empathetic in her careless mistakes. No, not careless. She cares a lot. She’s just irresponsible and naive.
Yes, and you give her some great moments that define her with edgy desperation and passion. Were there any challenges for you in “finding” Jules within you?
When I was in high school I was a lot closer to Annie. I had a Jules of my own who I was very close with and got me into a fair amount of trouble. We really loved each other and hated where we were living. But I had moved from a small town in Austria and she was from LA so she knew the ropes a lot better than I. She showed me The Pixies and The Talking Heads and introduced me to a whole world of old films outside of the classic Marlyn Monroe stuff I knew. We would ditch school and sneak into the MA screenings of random foreign films playing at the arthouse cinema in town. Eventually our closeness got a little unhealthy, and we went our separate ways but I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her. I have found myself since in her role of the person who introduces another to a bigger, more magical, more dangerous world since then. I dunno if that really answers the question but I pulled a lot from that relationship and how it changed me and tried to be truthful to that connection.
Also complete side note, I’m currently on book three of Elena Ferrante’s Napoleon novels and it follows the friendship of these two girls Elena and Lila through their whole lives. It’s SUCH a great portrayal of what it means to be so close to another girl. I find myself going back and fourth between who has my empathy. I would highly recommend the series.
Good tip. Both Jules and Annie (played by your co-star Nichole Bloom) feel deeply authentic. I liked the honesty and rawness and how natural the relationship comes off. You mentioned earlier the freedom you had in developing Jules with writer-director John Carchietta. Could you tell us anything more about that and what it was like on set?
John gave us SO much freedom. He ultimately was like “hey I’ve never been a teenage girl, so anything that feels false change it.” So Nichole and I would have sleepovers and comb over the next days scenes and sometimes do full rewrites. And in the morning we’d meet with John and show him our changes and he was pretty much always down. Also the set was mostly really rad women as heads of all the departments (sound, wardrobe, set design, makeup…) and that made it feel very safe and encouraging.
There’s a significant tonal shift in the third act that divides the film into two major parts and yet feels really organic based on the actions of Jules and Annie. I really liked the jarring urgency of it. Without spoiling the end, could you share some feelings about both sides and how you felt about the shift?
I’ve come from doing a lot of genre stuff which I LOVE, but sometimes there’s not a whole lot of room for character development. I usually only take projects that have good stories and characters. I really liked how this combined genres in an organic way. I think that the third act is earned from the emotional story put in the first two acts.
You’ve worked with your other co-star Pat Healy before, in Starry Eyes (2014). He’s a great actor that does very good work with you in Teenage Cocktail. Could you share some insights about filming with him?
We’ve also actually worked together on another film for Netflix called Rebirth. I love Pat. He’s an amazingly talented actor and has great taste. He’s just in pre-production on a film he wrote called Snow Ponies. I hear Gerard Butler is going to star. I like to call him Gerry. Good for Pat, he deserves it.
We’ll keep our eyes open for that. We devote a lot of our site to Women in Film. There’s some great things happening finally these past few years and a very promising year ahead. Any thoughts, advice, stories, or otherwise you’d like to share on the subject?
I worked on this webseries The Skinny last year that Jill Soloway produced and we went to Sundance and the whole time I was there I kept thinking about how that project would not have had the same opportunities just a couple years earlier. I think we’re still really far away from where we need to be. Our population is 50.8 % women and until our artists, our film makers, our story tellers, our politicians reflect those numbers more closely we’re really not seeing a realistic or fair portrayal of who we are as a people reflected back at us. And I strongly believe that goes for race as well. I want to see the same diversity I see around me every day in the films I watch. One of the things I loved most about TC was that both Nichole and I are of mixed race. She’s half Japanese and I’m half Sri-Lankan, but they never ever touched on it in the story. Because thats what real people are like. Enough with the token characters. If you haven’t written a character that could be played by a person regardless of their race, you haven’t written a good character. With exception to biopics and very specific stories centering around someones background or culture.
Well said, and here’s to continued changes. So you’re busy these days, and have lots on your plate. Could you tell us about some up-coming projects we can be on the lookout for?
I have a couple things I’m attached to but they haven’t been finalized yet so I can’t really talk about them. Speaking of women in film though I am currently in development on a couple of projects that I’m writing with my writing partner Jessica Garrison. Look her up, her solo prose work is amazing. I’m really looking forward to making those happen this year!
Will do. So to finish up, we dedicate a lot of our site to discussions on great moments in movies. Are there any movie moments or movies in general that have influence for you
Hmm. I’m not very good at this type of question because my answer changes day to day. I’ll just tell you some things that spring to mind. My grandpa showed me Henri-Georges Clouzot, who was known as the French Hitchcock. His film Wages of Fear will forever be one of my all times. Also Diabolique, King of Comedy, Badlands, Treasure of Sierra Madre, The Jerk, Bringing Up Baby (anything with Katharine Hepburn really), After Hours, The Twilight Zone, Leo Carax, Robert Altman, Werner Herzog… It’s a pretty mixed bag of stuff but those are the things and people I love. I tend to go to The Cinefamily and The New Beverly Theater in LA a lot to learn about movies. Illeana Douglas has a show on TCM called Trailblazing Women that has introduced me to a lot of remarkable films by women as well.
Thanks again for taking this time. We wish you the best of luck and look forward to seeing more of you soon.
Thanks so much!