I caught up with actress Jess Weixler for a chat on the craft, film, influences, the current climate in Hollywood post-Harvey Weinstein and her 2007 breakout hit about vagina dentata and sexual violence Teeth (see "the toothed vagina versus Weinstein" below), the essence of cool as embodied in the likes of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, and her newest, a quirky love story that actually makes audiences think, called Entanglement, in theaters February 9.

While searching for the meaning of his existence, Ben Layten (Thomas Middleditch) uncovers a family secret that leads him to a woman named Hanna (Jess Weixler)... But when he and Hanna inadvertently fall in love, his life becomes increasingly and strangely complicated. Ben starts to realize that everything is amazingly and incredibly connected - and that the world might just be more inexplicable than he ever imagined.

Directed by Jason James, Entanglement is a most unusual love story that does quite a bit to subvert rom-com genre tropes and oddly keep the audience thinking on a lot of things throughout. I recommend it for the audience who prefers well-thought-out intelligent fare that doesn't fail to entertain – two marks, in my view, of a great film.

Indeed, as Jess says, Entanglement is a "less charming", more realistic version of love.

Hello Jess and welcome to The 405! I was wanting to start, if I may, by inquiring a bit about your history. What got you into acting?

I think I probably always wanted to do it. I can't say being an only child wasn't part of it [Laughs]

[Laughs]

I'm an only child and I probably had a lot of time on my hands to play make-believe. And I think playing make-believe constantly really set me up for loving to do it. Now it's much better playing make-believe with other people…

[Laughs]

[Laughs] and not just by myself…

[Laughs] This is true…

[Laughs] yeah… and then I just fell in love with plays. In the beginning, I was a crazy Shakespeare lover… in high school.

There you go. Absolutely. Another question I like to ask the thespians I interview – what films, plays, performances have really stuck with you over the years? By that I mean, who and which would you consider as most influential on you as an artist?

Interesting. I'm just going to say the first that pop into my head. I saw Richard II when I was in high school and it blew my mind Richard II. I saw it at Stratford in Canada, the play festival and then, as far as films are concerned – probably just because of the timing of it – I remember watching Marvin's Room and watching Meryl Streep in Marvin's Room and Diane Keaton.

The two of them: so incredible. I had like an epiphany – just a moment there – thinking, "those are the kind of actresses that I look up to," the Diane Keatons and the Meryl Streeps – they're not the kind of young girlfriend types in movies – but really heavy-hitting, shape shifting actresses.  But I also just love that movie at that time and as it's gone on Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett – just strong women – I'm so attracted to these strong women in films.

(L-R) Thomas Middleditch as Ben and Jess Weixler as Hanna in the alternative romantic comedy "ENTANGLEMENT" a Dark Star Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Dark Star Pictures.

Absolutely. I'm going to have to check out Marvin's Room – can't say I've heard of it.

Oh yeah. It's with Leonardo DiCaprio too. He was amazing in it.

What makes a great film? Or a great performance?

I think it might sort of be true it is really something that sweeps you up and takes you away. Where you stop thinking "oh it's just a movie" – something where you get lost in how true it feels – when you feel like someone is being incredibly honest with their performance or being incredibly honest with the story they're telling.

Yeah, I think it's the truth in things that makes a great film. You can tell when its very true to somebody – even true to the actor where they're showing a real part of themselves and not just playing the part.  

That's a fantastic answer – one I whole-heartedly agree with. Getting into Entanglement, I'm curious, what attracted you to the part of Hanna? She acts as quite the foil to the neurotic-throughout Ben Layten.

I liked that she starts, she's an idealized version – without giving too much away in the interview to anybody who might be reading it – I think she changes throughout the movie from being an idealized version of everything he's missing – someone fun, someone exciting, kind of the romantic comedy icon of like the quirky, funny brave girl who makes your life more fun, more exciting – and then it tips into being more and more real as it goes on as we discover – can I say? Should I say? No.

Yeah…

We discover part of him is missing.

I actually had an issue with that same… plot point… as I was writing these questions. How do we address that without giving away the pay-off?

Yeah.

I thought it was structured very well in the story arc. Took me by surprise anyway.

Good, good.

(L-R) Jess Weixler as Hanna and Thomas Middleditch as Ben in the alternative romantic comedy "ENTANGLEMENT" a Dark Star Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Dark Star Pictures.

I'm curious what it was like to get into the head-space of Hanna, especially considering the twist and the payoff we keep alluding to?

I needed to be what he needed, to the very… until I become kind of more of … I have a mind of my own – eventually. Still… again, I’m trying to figure out how to talk about this without giving it away…

Apologies, I suppose I'm not making that part easy.

To get into the head-space – maybe not the head-space but to get into the character, I did start watching some Marilyn Monroe and James Dean and things like that to see what makes those people so idealistic, such icons. Other people becomes obsessed with them – what's so attractive about Marilyn Monroe and James Dean? They play these care-free… they're care-free and they laugh easily and they're flippant and James Dean always has a cigarette and all the things that… just that person seems so free.

So, yeah I was really trying to key into why those people seem so charming and later how it drifts into being a more whole person.

Absolutely. I think you nailed that x factor with the character too – that essence of cool about people like James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. What do you hope audiences will take with them from Entanglement? The film says quite a lot but is entertaining throughout.

I hope that they take away the thing that kind of flips the romantic-comedy thing on its head. It's saying,"oh this person – like in the movie Serendipity – is a bit of a character." It's almost too ideal. We all have a tendency to see people the way we want to see them – as opposed to the way they really are.

He (Ben Layten) has to eventually see that there is someone who will love him for who he is – with all his sadness – and its not as ideal looking. It doesn't look as… cute… for lack of a better word [Laughs]

[Laughs]

It's a less charming version of love.

That's a great way of looking at it. It does subvert the genre pretty well. Second to last question: I would be remiss if I didn't ask about Teeth…

Sure.

 while I have you. I'm curious whether you've noticed new interest in the film (over 10 years old now!) post-Harvey Weinstein and #MeToo as it does have quite a bit to say on sexual violence.  

Yeah. I'm pretty thrilled about it… at some of the Women's Marches, lots of people had these 'Pussy Bites Back' posters with the vagina and teeth.

I was so proud and amazed that its become this kind of… that it helps stand for "oh we will fight back for ourselves"… Teeth is an enormous metaphor. [Laughs]

[Laughs]

Yeah, I'm quite happy it's having a bit of a resurgence and some of the cartoons of the toothed vagina versus Weinstein… I think it's pretty cool.

I'm going to have to check those out. I haven't seen any of the cartoons about it.

Yeah, I've been sent some cool art. Some people sent me some cool art with it that they found on Instagram.

The metaphor of vagina dentata at the Women's March 2018 - A theme brought to the masses in America with Jess's role in TEETH.

Nice.

It's neat. I'm pretty proud of it. [Laughs]

[Laughs] That's great.

The last question I had: what is next for you?

Right now I'm shooting a TV show for AMC called The Son. It's a western – we're shooting our second season right now. Hopefully, before long, it's streaming in a place where people can see it other than the night it airs on AMC.

(L-R) Jess Weixler as Hanna and Thomas Middleditch as Ben in the alternative romantic comedy "ENTANGLEMENT" a Dark Star Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Dark Star Pictures.