Sundance Film Festival veterans Elijah Wood and Melanie Lynskey star together for the first time ever in the dark comedy “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore,” and it led to strong reviews out of the fest and the movie receiving this year’s grand jury prize. Now you can see it on Netflix beginning Friday.
The movie follows a depressed woman named Ruth (Lynskey) who calls on the assistance of her weird neighbor Tony (Wood) after her house is burglarized and decides to find the thief herself as the police are no help. Writer-director Macon Blair (the lead in the 2013 indie hit “Blue Ruin“) delivers a terrific twisted comedy in the vein of the Coen brothers but with more gore.
Business Insider sat down with Wood and Lynskey to talk about why they seek out unique stories, how Netflix has changed the movie business, and if we’ll ever see Wood play Iggy Pop.
Jason Guerrasio: Did you guys know each other before shooting began?
Elijah Wood: We did, we met through Peter Jackson.
Melanie Lynskey: Yeah.
Guerrasio: How far back was this?
Wood: Probably seven or eight years ago.
Lynskey: Didn’t I meet you at the opening for the King Kong ride?
Wood: I feel like we met there.
Guerrasio: That’s a great first meet memory.
Lynskey: [Laughs] Yeah, it was before it opened and they invited us to come with friends and ride on it.
Guerrasio: Going into this movie was there a need to get together and break the ice?
Wood: We worked a little bit before on a Cartoon Network mini series called “Over the Garden Wall,” and we had a day of work together. It was fun because we were in each other’s world but never got to hang out.
Guerrasio: But you didn’t connect before shooting started?
Lynskey: He showed up for shooting early, I’m terrible. I’m like, “Can I come up in the morning before we start filming?” I like being at home. But once I get there and I like everyone I’m like, “I don’t want to leave.” Filming this was very easy, very comfortable.
Wood: I just felt like I knew you already.
Lynskey: We got together for dinner a few times and hung out. It wasn’t like we felt like we needed to connect.
Guerrasio: What was it about Macon’s script that you dug?
Wood: Everything about it. I loved the characters. I’ve been a huge fan of his work from “Blue Ruin” to “Green Room,” which I starred in with him. And the script he wrote was incredible, with really beautiful, well drawn characters that you could relate to. But it also delved into genre cinema as well. It was all these things in one. It was my favorite thing I’ve read in a long time.
Lynskey: It’s just so original and it felt very honest, there were a lot of specific details that made me feel very sure of the story he wanted to tell and the world he wanted to create. I like it when somebody has a voice but it’s not a voice where all the characters sound the same. He’s able to create different and interesting characters.
Guerrasio: Are you guys surprised by the growth Netflix has made in building out its original content?
Wood: It’s actually not that surprising, anymore. I think there was a time in the ’90s that this would have been a title that would have gone direct-to-video, which would have been some certain kind of death. But that’s not the case anymore. If anything, it’s created this equal opportunity for filmmakers. There are so many ways to distribute a movie now and for a film like this in particular if it got a theatrical release it might have only played in the coastal cities.
Guerrasio: I was thinking after seeing the movie, if Netflix or Amazon wasn’t around this movie would be in play with the Focus Features, Magnolia Pictures, IFC Films of the world.
Wood: Yeah, it’s great that there’s a company that, yes, has a lot of money but also is a really creative film department that are making great choices.
Lynskey: And TV.
Wood: Yeah, I love their TV. But they are making choices based on the filmmakers and material without really wanting to get in the way. They did not come to set. They saw our dailies and we were getting thumbs up. That’s a really remarkable thing for a first time director to have that kind of faith. I’m all for it. If you can get your movie made the way you want to get it made, no matter what the end result is going to be, if people are going to see it that’s awesome.
Lynskey: There is a wonderful peace of mind knowing that it’s going to have an audience. But you still want it to have the best sendoff, so showing it here I was worried how the reviews would be, because Netflix doesn’t usually let stuff go to festivals. So there was a discussion about that.
Guerrasio: Well, it sounds like it’s been received very positively.
Lynskey: Very. It’s been amazing.
Guerrasio: You guys have been working in this industry for almost your whole lives, what keeps you motivated to continue working?
Wood: Every experience is a new experience. I feel like I’m constantly learning. Constantly trying to grow. This is a good example, I had never played a character like this before. I never had an opportunity like this before. That’s what keeps you going. It’s also the filmmakers, going to festivals or just seeing movies on your own, there are just so many incredible people with so many amazing ideas. That inspires you. And I never feel safe. Safety and comfort comes with complacency and that’s never a good place to be working from.
Lynskey: I feel very fortunate to have a job where I’m allowed to keep growing. And a lot of it is about exploring yourself and exploring other people and getting to understand humans. It’s something that you get addicted to. I also don’t know how to do anything else. Honestly, sometimes I think, “Gosh, I wish I had some backup plan.” I think I would be a therapist at this point.
Wood: You would be good at that.
Guerrasio: Well, being an actor is kind of like therapy in a weird way.
Lynskey: It’s true. It’s the closest thing to it, I think.
Guerrasio: Elijah, will the Iggy Pop biopic every happen?
Wood: I think it’s dead. I’m actually kind of grateful because I was terrified of it at the time.
Lynskey: What’s this?
Wood: There was this biopic that had been written about Iggy Pop that tracked him from high school to starting The Stooges and inevitably ending The Stooges to go make his first solo album.
Guerrasio: How many years were you attached to it?
Wood: It was probably like two or three years. [Current head of Amazon Studios] Ted Hope was involved in producing it and Nick Gomez was the director. It was an interesting thing and I was so flattered to be asked to play that role but it terrified me. At the time I thought I was too young and there’s one thing about playing someone who has passed away, which I also would feel equally anxious about, but someone who is alive and very vital still as a musician and an artist, I don’t know.
Guerrasio: Iggy didn’t want to be a part of it but he gave his blessing of you playing him.
Wood: He did.
Lynskey: That’s awesome!
Wood: The older I’ve gotten the more I’ve gotten a little precious about music-related films as it comes to biopics. I kind of don’t want to see it, I’d rather see a documentary. And this is just coming from me. I love music documentaries, I kind of don’t want to see people embodying those people.
Guerrasio: Melanie, give me a sense of the movie business today as an actress from your eyes. Are you starting to see scripts come to you with characters for you to play that are more outside the box from typical female roles?
Lynskey: I really do. I think this is so sh—y for the world and I’m terrified [about the election of Donald Trump] but I do think there’s something so positive and that people are really rising up and using their voices and feeling empowered and feeling like I have to do it. There’s more urgency and I think we are going to see a lot more diversity in storytelling and filmmaking. I’m kind of excited about what’s ahead.
Wood: The next four years are exciting because the opposition of Trump is so strong and so united and that will yield great results.