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“The producers were like, ‘We need to get an American,'” she recalls. Nevertheless, Shelton “just really had a gut instinct that she would be great” and her instinct turned out to be correct, as Shelton remembers Knightley “came ready to work,” with a perfect American accent to boot.
In the film Knightley plays a woman in her late 20’s who still hasn’t quite settled on what she wants to be – or whom she wants to be with (Sam Rockwell stars as a scene-stealing potential love interest). It’s a familiar theme in much of Shelton’s work, from her first big break-out Humpday (starring a relatively unknown Mark Duplass) to Your Sister’s Sister and Touchy Feely. She explains her fascination with what she calls “the juxtaposition of your expectations for yourself” against “some moment in life that causes you to take stock.”
Though she didn’t direct her first feature until she was almost 40 years old, Shelton recalls already “creatively exploding” at thirteen – that is, until “something about adolescence kind of ground that out of me.” Eventually, she says, she just started experimenting with performers (“I had no idea if it was going to work!”) until she found within herself what is now one of the most highly regarded voices in independent film.
Shelton also tells Off the Cuff about her “life-changing experience” directing an episode of Mad Men, but explains why she still prefers filmmaking to television (“I feel like I’m an Alice Munro as opposed to a Thomas Pynchon,” she jokes.)
“It’s totally fine to take your time to where you’re going,” she insists, adding with a laugh: “It worked out for me.”
Listen to Shelton’s full interview in this episode of Off the Cuff and be sure to subscribe to #pretapodcasts on iTunes for all the latest episodes.
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