Australian actress Radha Mitchell wasn’t expecting to find a friend in co-star Michelle Monaghan, but she quickly did on the set of their new flick “Expecting.”
The film, written and directed by first time director Jessie McCormack, stars Mitchell as Lizzie, a married 30-something whose perfect life plan is interrupted when she is unable to conceive a child with her husband (Jon Dore).
An even bigger wrench is thrown into the mix when her best friend Andie, played by Monaghan, becomes unexpectedly pregnant after a night of partying and offers to give her unborn child to Lizzie.
I recently spoke with Mitchell to discuss the movie, her friendship with Monaghan, and whether or not she thinks two real friends could survive such an odd arrangement:
Laura Hibbs: What attracted you to the role of Lizzie?
Radha Mitchell: I was particularly drawn to the project just because there was the opportunity to explore the friendship between two women. I also feel that the desire for people to procreate, find the perfect relationship and have the ideal life is quite potent. A lot of people these days struggle to create that picture and this movie explores the female perspective within that.
Hibbs: Do you think a friendship could actually sustain this arrangement in real life?
Mitchell: In real life? Wow. It would have to be a really strong relationship. Whether two friends could go through that together and stay friends? I don’t know! It would be pretty challenging. It would certainly be tricky. They might need a little bit of time apart. You often hear about it between sisters, if one can’t conceive the other sister will give. But that must be just as difficult, I would imagine.
Hibbs: A lot of movies about fertility focus on the relationship between a husband and wife. Why make this film about two friends?
Mitchell: The director really wanted to explore her own friendships and the regiment of those relationships. After all, it is your girlfriends that last when everything else falls apart, but even those friendships can be put under a lot of pressure at times. This story certainly pushes those buttons, but it’s an opportunity to honor your girlfriends.
Hibbs: Your chemistry with Michelle Monaghan is palpable. Did you know each other before filming?
Mitchell: Michelle is just super likeable and she’s such a great actress. She’s a real collaborator and good person… and she’s married to an Australian. It felt like we would have been friends, or we should be friends, with or without this project.
Hibbs: The movie toes the line between being really funny and really dramatic. Was that difficult to translate onscreen?
Mitchell: The subject of the movie is serious, but it is also ridiculous. You did want to feel the truth in it because that is what the heart of the story is. What they are trying to figure out is a difficult, adult problem even though they act like adolescents at times. They kind of grow up in the story and it isn’t easy for them.
Hibbs: This is Jessie McCormack’s first time directing a full feature film. What convinced you to sign on?
Mitchell: It is always great to work with someone who is completely passionate, and if it is your first film there is a lot of passion. It was great to work with a woman telling a story from the female perspective about women. That was cool. Not to get too gender specific, but there is something kind of interesting when you are telling a story about women to have women behind the telling of the story. She was so passionate and she made this thing happen. She had a super-low budget and she made it work. Everyone took a gamble on that initially because you don’t really know what you are in for when you work with a first-time director, but she exceeded everybody’s expectations. She put a really great cast together and did a really great job.
Hibbs: You’re right, it is unusual to see a comedy about women, directed by a woman.
Mitchell: It’s true! It’s not that usual, and when it happens it is like, “Oh, this is something very special.” I signed onto it before there was a cast and I knew of Michelle through a friend of mine so we tracked her down and I think she responded to that aspect of the script as well – the female buddy part of the movie.
Hibbs: At the height of your character’s crisis in the film, she finds solace in caring for her dog. What did that relationship represent in the movie?
Mitchell: Lizzie wanted to nurture something – she had her vegetable garden, her dog. The dog was actually the director’s dog. That dog had never acted before and it was in so many scenes. It stole so many scenes as well. It’s such a cool-looking dog and super sweet and good company for sure.
Hibbs: Your character plays the ukulele and sings throughout the movie. Did you know how to play prior to the film?
Mitchell: I learned the ukulele! That was really the challenge of the script; I had to learn to play the ukulele. I was invited to sing on the soundtrack, which was super exciting, but afterwards they were like, “We’re going to need a professional.” But it was super exciting going into the recording studio.
“Expecting” opens in selected theaters on December 6. Click here to check times and buy tickets through Fandango.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.