Ceremony - Uma Thurman and Lee Pace
Ceremony - Zoe (Uma Thurman) and Whit Coutell (Lee Pace) © 2011 Magnolia Picture, Photo by David Giesbrecht

Written and directed by Max Winkler, Ceremony stars Uma Thurman as Zoe, who is about to be married to a famous documentary filmmaker, Whit Coutell (Lee Pace), at his beachside estate.

Sam Davis (Michael Angarano) convinces his former best friend Marshall (Reece Daniel Thompson) to spend the weekend with him to rekindle their friendship. When they crash Whit and Zoe’s wedding party, it doesn’t take long for Marshall to realize the trip was a scam, and Sam’s plan was to thwart the wedding, because he and Zoe had been more than just friends.

Uma Thurman spoke about the movie and her role at the press day for the film.

What was it about this script or character that fascinated you?

Ceremony - Uma Thurman
Zoe (Uma Thurman) © 2011 Magnolia Picture, Photo by David Giesbrecht

Max wrote it beautifully. I’m sure you as an entertainment journalist watch every movie, I don’t know if you’ve read every movie. But there’s a great difference. When you pick up a script and you open it, you can tell immediately if it’s your typical studio derivative. From the first word, from the beginning of the stage directions of the screenplay you could tell this was a fresh and original voice, someone writing from their heart.

How do you feel playing the older woman in this?

That’s a good thing. How interesting is it to play the ingénue? I think not very. I never particularly enjoyed playing ingénues, actually. I’m one of the foolish people that was dying to get older; when I was 7 I wanted desperately to be 9, when I was 9 I just wanted to be 13. I spent my whole life just wanting to get older, and I think I had a good reason.

I always fit in with people older than myself when I was younger. Now that I’m finally more grown-up I find I have friends who are younger than me and friends who are older than me.

Zoe’s actually very immature. What I like about Max’s writing is, and I think we all know this is true of life, that someone’s age doesn’t actually represent their maturity emotionally. That we know, right? She’s a lost child. She’s just in a grown-up body trying now to make a more grown-up decision.

Is there a challenge of making the ordinary interesting or dramatic?

Ceremony - Uma Thurman
Zoe (Uma Thurman) © 2011 Magnolia Picture

I think what Max wrote was interesting. I would actually encourage anyone to read his script because I think he’s a wonderful writer. You can just tell on the page, and you can hear it in the dialogue; the double entendre, the subtlety, the complexity, in the reality-based conversation.

It’s just so much better than your average schlock. He’s so talented. I can’t say enough about him.

Can you talk about working with Lee Pace in this?

He’s ruthlessly handsome. I could hardly keep a straight face as Lee played that character; I just thought he was so wonderful.

There you have a character that Lee can take and play with such aplomb so far into right field, and then have this weird human turnaround where you realize that he’s actually far more sophisticated emotionally, and complex than you ever imagined, and capable of loving a woman who’s unfaithful to him, which, as we all know, very few men have the sophistication to put up with.

So there Max wrote an incredible, complex character, and someone who really surprises you. You see an incredible strength that he has, and actual profound self-confidence, and I guess very European character; definitely not someone coming from an American value system.

Can you talk about your co-star, Michael Angarano?

Michael reminds me so much of a young Robert Downey, who I worked with when I was 16 and knew, or used to know a long time ago. He has that Buster Keaton, Chaplin-esque, doe-y eyed, funny, restrained, honest, beautiful performance quality; he’s special.

Are you always trying to find fresh, enthusiastic young directors?

Very much so, I think that’s what Max is. I also think he’s going to have a magnificent career. There’s a couple of times that I’ve found people, I’ve picked writing that I discovered a talent, it felt like I discovered them for myself. I feel so excited because it’s so wonderful to get to be a part of the beginning of someone that you know is going to have a very long, important career.

Is a third installment of Kill Bill ever going to happen?

Direct those questions to Mr Tarantino. I think he has a new film ready to start, it’s another fresh piece of material that he is channeling at the moment, so I think Kill Bill lives down the road.

You play Robert Pattinson’s love interest in Bel Ami, did you get a taste of the Twilight nuttiness?

Yeah, he’s a pretty famous guy.

What kind of role did he play?

He played a great, romantic hero, but a bit of a monster.

And you?

I played a fiercely intelligent, independent woman, basically the professional woman in a time when you couldn’t be a professional woman. She uses the men in her life as a way to execute her desires, her political and her intellectual aspirations. She’s a great character.

How is your daughter’s reaction to playing Rob Pattinson’s love interest?

She was okay about it. She’s very sophisticated. I’m just a mother at home; I’m not a movie star.


Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.