Making her directorial debut with the unanimously acclaimed coming-of-age film Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig has boldly announced herself as a force to be reckoned with in an industry in which female directors are rarely given a chance to shine. From her early days as the preeminent darling of the mumblecore movement to her present-day perch atop Oscar ballots, we sat down with the 34-year-old vanguard to discuss her career, ambitions, and extraordinary newfound success.


1. You’re known as a figurehead in the “mumblecore” film movement. How would you describe mumblecore to the uninitiated?

A mumblecore movie is basically a film shot in three hours that follows a white man living in Austin, TX as he struggles to buy a sofa from his ex-girlfriend.

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2. Was it difficult to get the Lady Bird project off the ground?

No, not at all. In Hollywood, there’s a saying that you do “one for them, one for you.” And as a first-time director, I knew I needed to do something that would appease studios in order to get the leeway to pursue something I actually cared about. So Lady Bird was basically the soul-sucking, focus-grouped corporate monstrosity that I needed to get out of the way so that I could finally get the green light for my passion project, a period drama in which Harriet Tubman comes up with the idea for Danimals and must escape to the North on a jet ski so she can get the word out about her new yogurt invention. Keep an eye out for it, early 2019.

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3. The main character in Lady Bird gives herself that nickname in the film. Did you have a nickname for yourself when you were young?

Yes. My nickname was Julius the Crime. It came from this time when I was being born and I immediately yelled, “I am Julius the Crime.” And it just kind of stuck.

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4. Do you think having a background as an actor has made you a better director?

Oh, absolutely. Like, there are a ton of directors out there who will instantly call for an exterminator if they find a wasp nest on set and not even ask their actors if they want to look at it first. I know what a bummer that is, so when we found a big papery fuckin’ wasp nest on set one day, I made sure all the actors could come look at it and take pictures before I got rid of it—Saoirse even threw some rocks at it. My philosophy is that when you’re really in tune with your actors’ needs, it will lead to a better final product.

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5. Lady Bird surpassed Toy Story 2 to set the Rotten Tomatoes record for best-reviewed film of all time. How did that feel?

I was 16 years old when I saw Toy Story 2 in theaters, and I remember the moment Buzz Lightyear came on screen for the first time. I turned to my mom and said, “One day, I’m gonna make that bug-eyed space honky my bitch.” And my mom took my hand and said, “Yes, I know.” So this was kind of a childhood dream of mine, and it’s been pretty cool to see it come to fruition.

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