Malin Akerman plays mom to miss teenagers in “To the Stars”
For four seasons, Malin Akerman played Lara Axelrod, the wife of billionaire tycoon Bobby Axelrod, in the Showtime series Billions. The fifth season of the popular drama premieres on Sunday, May 3rd. Though Lara, now divorced from Bobby, has become more of a recurring character than a main character, the Swedish-born and Canadian-raised actress says it was a fun ride. Akerman lives in Los Angeles with her husband, actor Jack Donnelly, and their seven-year-old son Sebastian, and they are busier than ever. She recently directed the dark comedy Chick fight-a cross between Bridesmaids and Fight Club—In Puerto Rico and was named alongside Karl Urban in an independent film. cast Cold Providence. She was also tapped to appear in a pilot for CBS called. to play along The three of us.
Of course, given the ongoing global health pandemic and the resulting quarantine that nearly brought Hollywood production to a standstill, Akerman’s work schedules have been postponed indefinitely. Instead, she spends the last few weeks at home with her immediate family. She says the quarantine was an unexpectedly positive experience. On the phone, Akerman is optimistic, although she says she misses meeting friends and working. However, staying at home and staying safe with those she loves most is a top priority right now.
Akerman plays a small but important role in the Samuel Goldwyn Films coming-of-age drama To the stars. The film is set in a small town in Oklahoma in the early 1960s. As a housewife Grace Richmond, she moved with her husband and three daughters from much larger and more upscale Kansas City. Impeccably dressed and elegant, Grace tries to blend in with the new community, but the locals are a little suspicious of outsiders. Eldest daughter, Maggie (Liana Liberato), is headstrong and doesn’t let the neighborhood boys take pleasure in molesting clumsy high school student Iris (Kara Hayward). Of course, outsiders Iris and Maggie quickly become friends. Maggie also infiltrates a bevy of mean girls at school by entertaining them with great stories about her father’s work. She tells them that he is a celebrated Life magazine photographer hired to document life in the small town of Oklahoma.
The reality in the Richmond home is far from glamorous, however. Dad (Tony Hale, in a welcome dramatic twist) is overprotective of Maggie and gets angry quickly. Grace tries to keep the family together, but remains emotionally distant from her eldest daughter, who is clearly going through some kind of youth crisis and perhaps the reason the family had to flee to this remote town in the first place. Under the careful guidance of filmmaker Martha Stephens (Racing pigeons, Land-Ho!), scripted by Shannon Bradley-Colleary, secrets are slowly being revealed that will test both Maggie and Iris’ families and their place in the local homophobic community.
Akerman says she can refer to Grace’s instincts to protect her child. But at that time social pressure and loyalty to tradition took precedence over the family, which she finds tragic. To the stars is available now on digital and will be available on-demand June 1st.
Angela Dawson: How has your life changed in the past few weeks?
Malin Akerman: We have been at home here since mid-March. At that time the schools were closed. I have a 7 year old boy and all of a sudden we became teachers and started teaching at home which was quite an experience. The first couple of weeks were a bit hectic, but when we somehow fell in we tried to see the silver lining: I was able to spend the whole time with my son and husband. We are very lucky. I was able to tap into and see where my son is in life; We never have that much time together because we are very busy as a family. We’re healthy and have food so we’re fine. We just have to keep thinking positive. I miss my friends and family. I miss seeing people but other than that it was fine.
Dawson: Thematic, To the stars reminiscent of film classics from that time: East of Eden, The last picture show and Peyton Square.
Akerman: Yes, it’s done so nicely. It’s easy on the eyes, the whole movie. I always enjoy looking at historical pieces, especially those that have so much attention to detail. We wore these antique bras from the 1960s that are a different shape than we wear today. Almost everything we wore was authentic for the time.
Dawson: Why did you want to be part of the movie?
Akerman: It was really the script itself. It was a nice coming-of-age story. I really loved it. I loved all the different layers of it. Since I was bullied as a kid I could really understand how terrible it is and how lonely it can feel. And the story of being a gay woman during that time; it just touched on so many great topics that interested me. They were all put together in this beautiful film. So whenever there is such a thing, no matter how big the part is, I want to be a part of it. What a nice movie to be a part of.
Dawson: The film was written and directed by women. Was that a factor for you too?
Akerman: Absolutely. This story is led by women, so it only feels right for a woman to direct it. There is an unspoken understanding of what this is about. It’s exciting to have a woman at the helm. It’s exciting that they get the chances and opportunities they deserve, so it’s definitely a bonus. Obviously you want the right person for the job and I think Martha was the right person for it.
Dawson: The story takes place in rural Oklahoma. How was the shooting on location?
Akerman: We were in Enid, Oklahoma. I was only there for a short time, maybe two or three days. I was supposed to come back later to film another scene that they sadly cut so I didn’t come back. It was a very, very small town. Saw a bit of it one evening that we went to a really cute restaurant. That’s all. Otherwise I was on the set. There are very few residents there so it really felt like the perfect setting for the movie.
Dawson: Your husband is portrayed here by Tony Hale in a role we are used to seeing him play.
Akerman: You were wonderful. Tony and I actually got into a movie called. worked together Thank you very much more please about 10 years ago. It was also a small independent film and we played love interests in it. We get cast together over and over again and I love it. I love him. That was also a drama. So, the first time I worked with him was in a non-comedy setting, and again we’re stapled here. He is a brilliant actor.
Dawson: What can you say about Liana Liberato, who plays your teenage daughter with a secret that doesn’t live up to local norms?
Akerman: She’s cute and humble and talented and just full of life. She is just a sparkling, radiant person.
Dawson: Did you write a backstory for Grace?
Akerman: Yes. It’s always fun to give your characters a backstory. That was difficult because as a parent you have your gut feeling and your love for your children, and then you have society and society’s judgment. At that time, society’s judgment was considered to be much stronger than its own sensitivity. So, I think it’s been a tough road for Grace. As much as she wants to hug her child and tell her it’s okay, she can’t because it goes against everything society tells them to do. She has so many mixed feelings about her husband, about her daughter, and the townspeople. The family has a big secret and they really don’t want to reveal it. So she pretty much walks on eggshells. She doesn’t want to ruffle feathers or draw attention to herself.
Dawson: She reminded me of Betty from mad Men– something darker seethes beneath the surface of this beautiful facade.
Akerman: I have never seen mad Men. Don’t judge me, but I haven’t had a chance to see it. But it’s on my list.
Dawson: What were you working on before you went into lockdown?
Akerman: I just had a movie in Puerto Rico called Chick fight in which I played. I was just about to start two projects – one of which was an indie film called Cold Providence with Karl Urban, who wanted to shoot in Canada, and then called straight into a pilot for CBS The three of us. Everything was paused. All are waiting. All of them are in pre-production and we hope to get out of the gates asap. Hopefully I’ll do that when we’re out of this quarantine.
Dawson: Because you were so memorable as Silk Specter in (2009) Guardian Movie, did you see the new HBO? Guardian Series?
Akerman: Not yet. I am curious about it. I’m with my son all day so at the end of the day we were just beaten. But it’s high on my list because I’m curious about how they made the TV show.
Dawson: Aside from homeschooling your son, what have you been doing really well at home over the past few weeks?
Akerman: I wonder how many people would answer with “cooking and baking”, because eating is the main event in everyday life around the house. So we did little baking projects. That is the main thing. I mean cleaning the house that I got really good at. You exit one room and then look back into another room and say, “What happened?” And then you have to do it all over again. But I really enjoy cooking and now I finally have time for it. So it was great.