Back In January, V Caught Up With All Of The Stars Of This Year’s Sundance Film Festival For Our Fashion & Film Issue. Here, Indie Darling Sarah Gadon Talks About Her Upcoming Film Indignation
It’s hard to believe that this year’s Sundance Film Festival marked the first for Toronto-born Sarah Gadon. The 29-year-old indie darling has developed somewhat of a cult following among film buffs, thanks to her roles in not one, but three David Cronenberg features (A Dangerous Method, Cosmopolis, and Maps to the Stars). Gadon’s newest endeavor comes with the same kind of built-in following: Indignation, the adaption of Philip Roth’s 2008 novel, has landed her a spot at the top of just about every must-watch list to come out of the festival.
Gadon had yet to read Roth’s novel when she auditioned for the part. Still, the actor had little difficulty bringing the troubled character of Olivia Hutton to life, thanks to the academic tutelage of director James Schamus. “James is also a university professor, so making this movie with him was a lot like taking a course. He gave us reading material, references, and a lot of homework,” gushes Gadon, whose enthusiasm on the subject demonstrates a genuine dedication and love for the craft. “He believes that Philip Roth had women like Sylvia Plath in the front of his mind when crafting Olivia as a character, so I revisited a lot of Plath’s work and read her journals. I think getting into her head space really helped me identify with Olivia and lift her off the page.”
Set in 1950s America, in the midst of the Korean War, Indignation follows Marcus Messner (played by Logan Lerman) as he recounts his experiences at Winesburg College in Ohio, where he’d met Olivia, a suicide attempt survivor whose dark, quirky persona quickly became the object of his desire. The attraction between the two characters culminates when they drive to a cemetery after their first date, and she performs oral sex on him—a scene that Gadon recalls with a mix of pride and mortification. “Logan and I had spent so much time with the script that I felt totally at ease and completely comfortable when we were shooting the scenes. Then, when I watched them at Sundance, I was completely embarrassed! I couldn’t believe that I had done that.”
While it is a period piece, Gadon believes (and rightfully so) that younger audiences will have much to connect with in the story: “Philip Roth writes about young people at a time when they were bumping up against the power structures of America. He paints a very dismal picture about what it meant to be on the outside. That’s something you can identify with today.”
Incidentally, Gadon is coming off the heels of another adaption of a period novel, 11.22.63, the eight-part Hulu series costarring James Franco, based on the book by Stephen King. “It was great because I did mid-’50s right into early ’60s, so I was just following the chronology of American politics. I feel like one of the best and most exciting things I get to do as an actor is to just lose myself in someone, and I really get the opportunity to do that when it’s someone from another time.”