‘Rules Don’t Apply’ in roundtable interview

Photo courtesy of Francois Duhamel

“Rules Don’t Apply” explores an age where the protestant revolution strongly shaped how people dealt with sex. The film follows the life of Marla (Lily Collins, “The Blind Side”), a young Baptist woman and rising starlet who moves to Hollywood to work with the infamous Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty, “Bonnie and Clyde”). Arriving at the airport, she meets her driver, Frank (Alden Ehrenreich, “Beautiful Creatures”), a young man with a dream to create his own future.

This movie may be the most realistic representation of feelings ever produced. There is character growth, exploration and understanding. Harsh realities are dealt with, and the viewer is swept into the reality of the film.

In true Warren Beatty style, he spent years creating this masterpiece. He directed, wrote and starred in the movie and used it as an outlet to explore the sexual repression of Protestantism
and the intense guilt associated with sex.

The movie is an incredible nod to women as Marla is told “the rules don’t apply to you.” Young women are being challenged daily to break the standard “rules” of beauty, intelligence, success and career paths. Tech women choose to be the exception, and like Marla, inspire others to be as well.

Technique was invited to the advanced screening and Q&A session with actor/director/producer Warren Beatty, nominated 14 times for an Academy Award and  for 18 Golden Globe Awards, and with actors Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich. The screening was followed by a more intimate interview session with the three actors where Technique was able to gain insight into the movie and the actors’ personal lives.      

Technique: [To Collins] I know that you played a mom in “Love, Rosie,” how do you act like a mom when you’ve never had any children?

Collins: My mom and I are best friends, but I always thought she was a super cool young mom even though she was in her 30s, and now young moms are like 16, so technically she wasn’t that young. I have little brothers, so I think about how I act with them. I have a lot of friends who have younger siblings, and I love playing around with kids. You just can’t prepare for something you’ve never been prepared for. It’s very difficult. But it’s been fun playing a mom, and I’ve gotten lucky with the children that I have played moms to. They’re really smart. The kid who played my son in this, Evan O’Toole, was just walking around set. He asked the most intelligent questions, so he just made it very easy.

Technique: You and Warren talked about feminism and technology underlying in the movie. Do you feel your character portrayed a pre-modern feminist?

Collins: I do. I think that wasn’t something I intentionally went out to teach in the movie, but I think she was on that brink of stepping out and speaking out as a young woman about what she was and was not willing to do. Like in the screen test, they brought out the bathing suit, but she didn’t do it. … Even the way she speaks to Howard is ballsier than the other females that were in the school with her. I think she does represent this new age of women coming up into the 60s.

In the end [Beatty] was very adamant that I come back wearing a pantsuit and hair pulled back, not somehow matured in some glamorous outfit.

Technique: One of the biggest lessons in the movie is that the “rules don’t apply,” and as a female engineer, I have faced a lot of people saying that I shouldn’t be doing this. What do both of you want to portray to the college demographic through this role and through your professional lives?

Ehrenreich: I feel that as you get more involved in any industry or career, you are being told more and more frequently the way things are done traditionally. … It becomes your responsibility to be diligent about continuing to hear your own voice in your head instead of the voices of other people. When you don’t have a lot of experience and you are around people with a lot of experience, it is easy to get swept away in the conventions they are presenting to you. If you want to do anything in any field that is great, or that has purpose and is an expression of who you are, you have to be really dogged about making sure: A) that you can hear yourself and you know what you actually want, and you can hear your own voice, which isn’t always easy, and B) to stand up for that voice once you can hear it.

Collins: I just wrote a book about exactly that, which comes out in March. It’s all about being unfiltered. It’s called “Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me.” It’s all about finding your voice and not letting other people’s preconceived ideas about you affect how you live your life. Specifically speaking to young women, it’s all about talking about those taboo things that we don’t like to talk about, but in the end, we can all relate to. …

As long as you’re solid within yourself, and you are confident and comfortable with the conversations that you are having within yourself about decisions you are making, no one else can judge your experience. As long as you are kind, direct and honest with your words, no one can fault you. As long as you are doing what you are passionate about, you are doing it for the right reason. I think it is really important to acknowledge and to be in conversation with that voice within your head — to take that voice and use it among other people.

Technique: You chose Alden and Lily for this movie a long time ago. What drew you to them?

Beatty: I like to talk about a blink where the unconscious tells you right away, and then the conscious mind goes into work. You think it through seriously, you study it, and you get dumber and dumber and dumber.

I had a blink on both Alden and Lily. What I saw immediately in them, was a level of integrity, discipline, intelligence, good-looking, humor, and I thought, “Oh, okay,” right away. … Then I went into my stupid phase of studying and studying and knew less and less but came around to what I had faith in, which was my first instinct.

Technique:  Why explore the subject of religion in your movie?

Beatty: Growing up in Virginia as a Southern Baptist … and seeing the hypocrisies involved and the main one: the necessity of guilt about making love. Oh, there are a lot of other words for it which I always contend have a lot of comical consequences, and a lot of sad consequences, which has made us the laughing stock of Europe and other countries.

And trying to study whether that [hypocrisy] comes from Jamestown, Virginia or the Massachusetts Bay Colony … and what are the assets of it and the liabilities, and I’m afraid I see more liabilities…But I think this liberation of the female, which I think is the most important thing happening on the planet, did help lead to what we call the sexual revolution of the 50s.

So some hot new movie star that goes in at that age in 1958 where they are very interested in merchandising sexuality, trying to come to grips with it, studying it, and trying to be entertained by it — I think that is the underlying thematic tension and conflict in this movie. I love it when Matthew Broderick says to Alden, “You know why Baptists think fucking is bad? Because they think it will lead to dancing.” I grew up in that sort of atmosphere, and then I went to Hollywood.