Zoe Lister-Jones (My Life in Pieces) can’t believe it herself. The 34-year-old multi-hyphenate who wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the new indie Band Aid didn’t script the role of the off-center neighbor, Dave, with Fred Armisen in mind. The strangely sexual sidekick needed to be as good at deadpan comedy as at playing the drums to fit into the make-shift band her character, Anna, puts together with her husband, Ben (Happy Ending’s Adam Pally), as a way to channel their endless squabbling into something productive.
“In retrospect it’s baffling to me that I didn’t write the character with Fred in mind since it’s impossible to picture anyone else playing him,” says Lister-Jones. “I was just so elated that he agreed to do the movie. He’s not only an amazing comedic force but he’s also a legit drummer.” (Check out one of Armisen’s initial moment with Lister-Jones and Pally above._
Band Aid opened in limited release last weekend and will expand Friday to additional markets and video-on-demand services. For Lister-Jones, the film, her directorial debut, is a culmination of years of acting and writing on a slew of projects — including the Greta Gerwig-starrer Lola Versus that her husband, Daryl Wein, directed.
For Lister-Jones directing was actually an easier endeavor then she expected it to be.
“I had seen so many indie films go wrong that I was very prepared for the worst,” she says of the film, which includes original songs along with a complicated, emotional verbal fight scene spread across seven minutes. “Being an actress you see how tough the role of director is and how thankless it can be. It was helpful coming in with that knowledge. I was anticipating some of the challenges so I was better equipped to navigate them.”
It also helped that she had Pally by her side, a comedic actor she hired to play her Jewish, guitar-playing husband without knowing anything about his musical — or Judaic — skills.
“He was an indie Jewish guy from New York so I knew he definitely knew how to play a couple Dave Matthews songs. He actually surprised me how good he is on the guitar,” she says.
Lister-Jones was also shocked to see Pally’s Hebrew name as a permanent fixture on his body. “The characters in the film are Jewish, which to me adds a lot of specificity to them, but I didn’t expect the actor I cast [as my husband] to have Hebrew letters tattooed on his chest,” she says with a laugh. “Adam really came with the goods.”