Showing Up | Official Trailer HD | A24

AVC: You recently talked about how arduous the filming process was for Meek’s Cutoff, and how you were working with an even bigger crew. I just remember being amazed that Michelle was like, “I would just follow her anywhere, even out to the middle of nowhere.”


KR: She didn’t exactly know what she was saying when she said, “I’ll follow you anywhere.” That was extreme.

MW: That was extreme.

KR: Extreme in beauty but also extreme in hardness.

MW: When we showed up there I was like, “Oh, this is spooking me out.” I’d never been in an environment like that.


KR: It was strange. But all of us went through processing how we would live there. I could still tear up thinking about it, I had a really hard time transitioning back out of it. Going back to Portland, I was amazed at the downsizing of everything and how much simpler that made life in a lot of ways. It’s crazy beautiful out there and the smell of sage is insane and everything is prickly and hard and might have a rattlesnake under it.

AVC: When you started to write Showing Up, did you imagine this role for Michelle?


KR: Who will be in a role is different from talking about people you know in town or people from school or people that you grew up with because it’s really fluid—who this character is going to be. Jon [Raymond] and I take endless walks and have endless coffees and endless phone conversations. There’s a good clay metaphor coming up here, but you’re altering who that is and it’s a different stage going into who will play the part.

Early on I said, “Well, gee, I’d really like to do this Michelle, but I’m not physically seeing how Michelle will fit into this role.” Then [a producer] sent me a picture of Lee Bontecou and I was like, “Wow, all right, that is how.” That was a really great moment because then you get to have your cake and eat it. Lee Bontecou was kind of a pivotal moment for me.


AVC: You’ve talked about Michelle’s work ethic on Meek’s and how into that process she was. For this film, did you do any classes in preparation for working with clay?

MW: I got set up with Cynthia Lahti and we would Zoom. They sent me a 10-pound bag of clay and some instruments and I started whittling away at it. I didn’t discover a latent talent unfortunately.


KR: But you did get those arms on in one take, which had to happen.

MW: I spent a lot of time at her studio watching her work, talking to her about her work, asking her what it felt like when she worked. She’s applied herself to this her entire life so I can’t pretend but I can try to get the spirit of the thing that she has achieved. Because I’ll never be able to get the mastery because it’s a life’s work. Something I found really moving about watching her work is you know she has the ability to make sculptures that are very precise and flawless but she’s so interested right now in how little she can do and still achieve what she wants. The movements are really spare and swift, but a lifetime went into that gesture.


KR: One could look at them and think they’re full of flaws because they’re not neat pieces. They have a roughness to them that’s a part of it.

Showing Up premieres in theaters on April 7.