Mrs. Fletcher: Kathryn Hahns Brilliant Performance Stems From a Key Change to the Book – IndieWire

Posted: November 23, 2019 at 8:47 pm


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When first reading Tom Perrottas 2017 novel, Mrs. Fletcher, Kathryn Hahn was struck by what proved to be a telling choice by the author.

It was the dual stories that really intrigued me and that fact that she was written in the third person and the son was written in the first, Hahn said. There was something very interesting in that to me, the fact that this was something [Perrotta], a man, would want to dig into: the interior life of this woman.

The authors book, which formed the template for HBOs critically acclaimed limited series, switches perspective with each new chapter. The story starts in Eve Fletchers perspective, as the single mother packs up her only child, Brendan, for college, but its told through a disembodied narrator: Eve cried most of the way home. All shed wanted, from the moment she opened her eyes in the morning, was a chance to let Brendan know what was in her heart.

The next chapter starts in the first person, literally with the first word: I was a little dazed when we headed out to dinner, Brendan says, and everything that follows is from inside his head: Id been dreaming about the ability to do what I wanted; my mom; four of us. But for the show, both Perrotta and Hahn knew they needed to balance out those two viewpoints.

If we could figure out getting from Eves third person in the novel if we could squirrel it into the first person together that was going to be a really interesting collaboration and journey, Hahn said.

That was a real concerted effort and very much a focus of Kathryn and the directors: It is a show about this womans intimate life and there a lot of sex scenes, often solo, and it was just really important to say, This is not a show thats going to cater to a male gaze. Theyre sexual scenes, but theyre not sexy or titillating,' Perrotta said. I was totally on board with that, but I think in terms of what those scenes actually looked like, they were really figured out between Kathryn, the director, and the intimacy coordinator. And I was pretty much like, That sounds great.'

Kathryn Hahn in Mrs. Fletcher

Sarah Shatz/HBO

The author and actor quickly earned each others trust, meeting over lunch to discuss the part I remember all I kept saying to her when we met was like, I know what you can do. I know that youd be great at this. I just wanted to know that she wanted it! Perrotta said and each growing more excited about the adaptation through the others engagement.

I was enormously bolstered by his curiosity, Hahn said. I knew he was aware that [the production] needed to be surrounded by a lot of women and a lot of diverse voices. Knowing how aware he was, I was enormously bolstered by that. [But] because hed written it, I was very excited by his curiosity.

Hahn also had confidence in herself. At a time when awareness of whos writing womens roles is at an all-time high, the actress wasnt worried about Eves story stemming from a mans imagination.

It wasnt [a concern] to me because I knew that if was cast in it, then it would be me as the person, she said. I knew by the time it got to my [characters] personhood, it would be a collaboration. So I wasnt worried about that. I knew I would take care of myself. And at that point, I knew Nicole Holofcener was around to direct the pilot, and I also knew there was going to be an incredible group of women writers.

Also a producer on Mrs. Fletcher, Hahn worked closely with her directing team (including Holofcener on the pilot and Liesl Tommy, Carrie Brownstein, and Gillian Robespierre helming the other six episodes) and the predominantly female writing staff to focus Eves perspective in each scene. As Eve becomes more curious about the wide world of internet pornography and starts to put her wants first in the bedroom, Hahn made sure the scenes showing her characters porn habit were purposeful and clear.

Kathryn Hahn in Mrs. Fletcher

Sarah Shatz/HBO

We wanted to make sure what the porn was giving her was landing in a specific way into the real world; how were they releasing out into the world in a specific way, what she was gaining in specific ways, or what they were teaching her how they were moving her forward or into new paths, Hahn said. Its such a personal relationship with porn that one has, usually. Sometimes theres a partner who you can share it with, but usually its such a deep and personal path, and for her it really was. It was something that was so taboo and something that she thought she was never allowed to look at; it was such a Pandoras box to open up, so a lot of it was digging into what that relationship actually meant.

That started with Eves first glimpse of it, as she lays in bed, mindlessly scrolling for ideas of what to do with all her new free time, and she accidentally clicks on a porn site.

Thats such an important moment because its the first moment for her on this path, and that was definitely Nicole and I playing with [her reaction], Hahn said. [Its] not like Eve is turned on, but more like shes drawn in to this light. It was a new world of possibility more than it was [just porn]. It feels a little bit more existential to me. Porn is such a jumping-off point for her search for authenticity or just who she is underneath it all. So a lot of those scenes of her by herself, the thing that was imperative to me and all of us, that it was just her finding pleasure for herself and not anyone else. I was very proud of that.

Through thoughtful consideration like this and her astute attention to emotional details, Hahn has made Eves journey into more than just a mid-life sexual awakening. Her instincts lead her to make new friends, go after new opportunities, and expand her appetite for life, not just sex. In quick, addictive, half-hour episodes, Hahn and the team around her build incredible empathy and excitement around a personal, internal story. The interior life of Eve Fletcher is as fully realized as they come a first-person experience that everyone can share.

Mrs. Fletcher airs new episodes Sundays at 10:30 p.m. on HBO.

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Mrs. Fletcher: Kathryn Hahns Brilliant Performance Stems From a Key Change to the Book - IndieWire

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November 23rd, 2019 at 8:47 pm