PARK CITY - Ahead of its premiere last Sunday, Zal Batmanglij's second feature "The East" -- which I reviewed earlier this morning -- was one of the most curiously awaited titles of this year's Sundance fest, not least because his first collaboration with writer-producer-star Brit Marling, "Sound of My Voice," made such a splash in Park City two years ago.
With their reputations thus established, the pair could command some bigger names for their follow-up -- among them, "True Blood" star Alexander Skarsgård and Oscar-nominated actress Ellen Page. Both have key roles to play in this topical thriller on the theme of corporate terrorism, in which an intelligence agent (Marling) infiltrates The East, a mysterious group of left-wing anarchists bent on punishing corrupt corporations for their social and environmental misdeeds.
Skarsgård plays Benji, the group's strong but soft-spoken leader, whose relationship with Marling's character gradually takes an intimate turn; Page, meanwhile, plays Izzy, the group's most outspoken and reactionary member, whose motivations for her involvement in The East are slightly different from those of her fellow members.
Both actors relished the chance to be in a film that, as suspenseful and entertaining as it is, carries a relevant political message for a wide-ranging audience. Did their roles in "The East" tap into some of their personal values and convictions?
We also talk about the experience both actors have had in moving between independent productions like "The East" and blockbusters like "Inception" (for Page) and "Battleship" (for Skarsgård) and what they've gained from that balance. Page, meanwhile, is double-dipping at Sundance this year: she also stars in Lynn Shelton's dramedy "Touchy Feely," which premiered last week. She talks about the privilege of representing two very different facets of American independent cinema at the festival.
Check out the full video interview above, and look out for our accompanying chat with Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij, coming soon.