Friday, March 5, 2010
Interview: JoBeth Williams Is "Uncorked"
As an actress with an already-busy schedule, what made JoBeth want to play the role of winery matriarch Sophia Browning? “It was really refreshing to read a script that I thought was really sweet, without being saccharin sweet. I loved the character. I loved the idea of this woman, as a sort of born-again hippie. She and her husband had been hippies in the old days, and they owned this vineyard. And I love Elliott (who plays her husband Paul) — Elliott happens to be a friend of mine — so the idea of us being a couple was fun.”
JoBeth was also reunited with Julie Benz, who plays Johnny. JoBeth tells me: “I’ve worked with Julie a couple of times. The first time was when I did a series with John Larroquette called ‘Payne’ some years ago for CBS, and Julie played our maid. And then I did four episodes of ‘Dexter,’ and I played her mom. So it was fun reuniting again. I adore her; she is a dear, terrific girl.”
While many things drew JoBeth to this film, the scenery was a big factor: “We filmed in the Santa Ynez in the Solvang area, which is a gorgeous area north of L.A., and shot in this wonderful vineyard. Everything seemed right about it, and it made me want to do it.”
Working with Elliott Gould was a big draw as well. “Elliott is just wonderful. He is very funny and has a very dry sense of humor. He just really has a great heart. He has a wonderful outlook on life; he’s very laid-back. He has a lot of wisdom. I love being around him and talking with him and spending time with him.”
JoBeth could see a bit of herself in Sophia, telling me: “I could certainly relate to wanting the best for my child and to see him be happy. I’ve seen my own kids go through their own ups and downs, and as a mother, you want to make it better. For Sophia, I think that was her driving force, to help her son get over the loss of his wife.
“And I think I have a certain amount of the old hippie in me. I went to college in the late ’60s/early ’70s. We were against the war, and were of the ‘make love, not war’ school of thought. I like that this woman made the choice to live not in a big urban situation. She just felt very earthy to me. That’s a part of me that I hope I have. I was raised in cities, but I was raised in Texas, so there’s a certain amount of connection to the earth. I really liked her Earth Mother quality.”
While a big message of the movie is finding a balance between your work life and your personal life, JoBeth hopes audiences take away this message: “I hope people take away a really positive feeling that family can ground you. I think a lot of the time, we don’t give our family connections the kind of credit they deserve, like how important they are to us and how much they mean to us. I think family makes all the difference.”