One of the more unusual interviews I've had recently was with Imogen Poots, who is the female lead of the new action film "Need For Speed," and who was also seen in this spring's "That Awkward Moment."
It is not often that I sit down across from someone after seeing a film and find myself stymied for what we are supposed to discuss, but that happened when I attended the press day for "Need For Speed." After all, the role she plays in the film might as well just be named "The Girl." The part is so thinly written that the majority of what she has to do in the movie is sit in the passenger's seat and smile at Aaron Paul while he does things.
I decided not to tiptoe around things, and I asked her how she approaches the challenge of taking a non-existent character and turning it into something that keeps her dynamic and engaged and that gives her something worth doing. The truth is that most writing for women in mainstream movies is dire, and for young women, that is doubly true. At least there are more character roles available as people age, but when you're a young and beautiful woman, the range of what you're asked to do can be enormously frustrating.
To her credit, she answered the question with the same bluntness that I asked it, and she seemed to know exactly what I was asking. In the film, her character is car-crazy, and I asked if she has any particular passion for cars herself, another question she asked with the same directness.
But it was the end of the interview where I decided to just plain deal with the elephant in the room, because the truth is that both Poots and I are part of a club. After all, my last name is McWeeny, and while growing up, I moved quite a bit. I've had more first days at a new school than most kids, and my last name turned that into an annual nightmare. You can't truly understand what it's like to have a last name like mine unless you've actually experienced it, and I asked Poots about her own experience. Her answer just plain charmed me silly, and when the camera went off and I stood up to thank her for playing along, she smiled.
"We've got a bond now," she said. "I'll remember this."
As will I, miss. As will I.
"Need For Speed" opens in theaters this Friday.