Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 52, hasn't been in a movie since 1997, but meeting writer-director Nicole Holofcener convinced her to take the plunge with ''Enough Said,'' also starring James Gandolfini, out Sept. 20
Between Veep, Seinfeld, and The New Adventures of Old Christine, you’ve earned 14 Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy nominations — breaking Lucille Ball’s record. But Enough Said is your first real starring film role. Why haven’t you made more movies?
When I was younger and more films were available to me, I opted not to because I was working on Seinfeld for nine years and I was raising two kids. The idea of working on a network series for nine months a year and then going off on location to make a film was just untenable to me. So I did a few, but not too many. I think I’ve been able to find my way in TV much easier. Frankly, there are a lot more roles for women in television.
In the movie you play Eva, a divorced masseuse who falls for Albert [James Gandolfini], not knowing he’s the ex-husband of a new friend [Catherine Keener]. What drew you to this part?
I loved the script — [writer-director Nicole Holofcener’s] voice really speaks to me. It’s a very intimate story, very raw and very real, yet the emotions are very big. I met Nicole for breakfast and we completely hit it off. It was like a blind date gone good.
Eva is a lovable but complicated character who makes a lot of self-sabotaging mistakes. Were you able to relate to her?
Oh, yes. That fear of separation. The idea of being left is terrifying to her. She avoids it at all costs. But she’s a well-intentioned person. We joked about that — when the movie didn’t have a title, we pitched She Means Well. [Laughs]
You are in just about every scene in this movie.
I am. I really did work every hour, every second on this film. But Nicole is very, very relaxed, and that’s the tone on set. One day, for instance, she was wearing this green T-shirt and I said it was a nice shirt. She said, ”You should wear it in this scene!” And I said okay, and then went into the bathroom and switched shirts. She doesn’t like a lot of hair and makeup, which was an adjustment for me. [Laughs] She wants it to look like you’re really seeing people as opposed to movie stars.
Your love interest, Albert — a fellow divorcé with a college-bound kid — is played by the late James Gandolfini in a totally different kind of role than we’re used to.
Isn’t he just dreamy?
He’s great. But it makes it that much harder when you realize that he’s gone.
The whole thing is incredibly bittersweet. He was such a dear, sweet man, and that’s really who he is. I think he’s much closer to being Albert than Tony Soprano, you know? Even while we were filming, I was looking into his face, doing these scenes, and I kept thinking, he’s like Marlon Brando. He brings this authenticity to the performance that is just unsurpassed. I can’t believe I was lucky enough to be in this film with him.