Ginnifer Goodwin on Something Borrowed, Letting Go of Big Love, and TV's Worst Hairstyle
When Ginnifer Goodwin first burst upon the scene, it was as Justin Long's sarcastic yet unfortunately coiffed sidekick Diane on the NBC series Ed. Now, after a string of supporting roles in films like Mona Lisa Smile and Walk the Line -- and having just wrapped up five seasons as Margene on the critically acclaimed HBO series Big Love -- Goodwin returns to the big screen in her largest role to date in the adaptation of Emily Giffin's chick-lit bestseller, Something Borrowed.
Goodwin stars in the film as Rachel, a woman who sleeps with, then falls in love with, her longtime friend Dex (Colin Egglesfield). Which is a problem, because unfortunately Dex is engaged to Rachel's best friend Darcy (Kate Hudson). All the while, Rachel confides her true feelings to her friend Ethan (John Krasinski), who also happens to be in love with Rachel. Movieline spoke to Goodwin about starring in a film in which her character is, shall we say, less than scrupulous; her feelings on the finale of Big Love and, most importantly, what exactly was going on with her hair when she co-starred on Ed.
[Something Borrowed and Big Love finale spoilers follow.]
I wouldn't necessarily call every character in this movie "bad people," but they're all doing bad things...
Yes. They make poor decisions. Yeah, every step of the way.
Is that what drew you to this project? The fact that these characters seem nice but are doing terrible, terrible things?
Yes. And it's precisely the reason I took the role. I was inspired by the challenge of making Rachel sympathetic when, on paper, I judge her harshly. I do believe she makes piss-poor decisions just about every step of the way. And when you step away from it, you can see that she... You know, I understand that she feels that she doesn't have any self worth having growing up in the shadow of her best friend, Darcy. But, having handed over the love of her life on a silver platter to her best friend, she not only commits what is something of a mortal sin -- sleeping with her best friend's fiancé -- but she does it again and again. She lies and she lies and she lies -- she's never forthcoming and she's never honest. She never takes responsibility for her actions and, ultimately, only gets the guy because she gets busted. And I loved the idea that we were going to be rooting for such an antagonist.
But we don't really root for Darcy in any way. Did Darcy have to come off worse than Rachel?
She did. You had to see that friendship as toxic because the story is told in Rachel's voice. And reading the book, you do see that it's all through Rachel's eyes and that it's human nature to villainize our obstacles. So that is actually what she's doing to Darcy. And if we make the sequel, Something Blue -- if Something Borrowed is successful -- then that story will be told in Darcy's voice and Rachel will be characterized in a completely different way.
Is that why Ethan (John Krasinski), who is the most likable character in the film, is left in limbo?
Oh, yes, a second movie would be his and Kate's movie. And you know, Ethan, in the book, doesn't exist in the way that we presented him. Our Ethan is an amalgamation of multiple characters. And we had the blessing of the author in combining him with some others to create our version of Ethan. But, yes, Something Blue would be his and Darcy's story.
There's a scene at a bar where you, as Rachel, complain that another woman is staring at you because that other woman feels that Rachel isn't good looking enough to be sitting with Dex. Do you see how people might not find that realistic? Did you ever consider dressing the character down or, basically, not having Rachel look as good as she does?
We did talk about it. We did talk about really playing her down and mousing her up. Except that the thing about Rachel is that her wallflower-ness is a self-perception. I mean, if you can say that she has any perspective at all. She sees herself so differently from the way others see her. Which is why it's important to show that, as lonely as she is, she actually does have men kind of fawning over her. You know, Marcus throws himself at her and Ethan confesses his love. I think part of what's important, other than to show that her lack of self-worth is self-imposed and she actually puts herself in Darcy's shadow, was to show that she was not choosing Dex by default because that's the love that she can get. Just like she believes that she should be someone's first choice, she believes that she should only be with hers.
There's a dance scene in the middle of the film, set to Salt-n-Pepa's "Push It," in which you have to do the dance from the New Kids on the Block's video for "The Right Stuff." Are you ready to admit that you already knew how to do that dance?
I didn't! No, that was choreographed by a professional. And we rehearsed for a couple of weeks before we began filming so it would be under our belts by the time we got to that scene and wouldn't waste anytime on that day -- because you really did have to dance for about 12 hours. And, no, I was incredibly nervous about that scene and because I'm not a great... I was a ballerina for 14 years, but it ends up that my dancing skills do not translate into something like a Salt-n-Pepa dance or a dance-off in the Hamptons. But I was really nervous about that scene because we're breaking out into a dance, but we're not a musical. It's actually one of my favorite scenes in the movie because I think it's really a perfect example of why these two are good friends.
In your best guess, how does Rachel get Shake Shack through security for an intercontinental flight to London?
Oh my gosh! This was definitely before our new TSA rules. I mean, I don't think you can bring an animal product of any kind. Can you?
To be fair, Shake Shack is delicious. Perhaps that's why they let her carry it on?
And after about four hours, I'm going to assume that there are bacteria growing on that burger. But... I think it was more the gesture then there was the idea that Ethan actually eats it. There is a scene that was cut in which Ethan doesn't show up one day to have lunch with her -- she's sitting at the Shake Shack waiting when she finds out that he's moved to London without saying goodbye. So I think, also, the idea was that she just picked up and moved in that moment to go see him.
Were you happy with the finale of Big Love?
I was. You want to be able to think that characters are living on past the book or the move or the TV show, but I think it's the only way we could prove that this family was going to stay together. And I think it was the only way we could prove they were right in having faith that we would be together in the afterlife. And we proved that by showing the ghost of Bill at the end, watching over them. And so I think it's the only direction in which the show could have gone. For me, the end really justified the means; there were a lot of things that I didn't understand along the way and finally could find closure in our deciding to stop making that show when I was having the time of my life and having trouble letting go of it. I really believe in their freedom of choice there. And apparently this has always been planned since the beginning.
How early or late in the process did you find out?
Well, I knew that the show was going to end. And I knew that we would go out with a bang, but I didn't understand quite what that meant. I found out a coupe of months before we finished shooting that it was going to be our last episode. And then we had this table read for the last episode during the second to last episode -- like we do -- but we stopped 10 pages short of the end. And they pulled Bill [Paxton], Jeanne [Tripplehorn], Chloë [Sevigny] and me into a room and showed us the red pages and we were the only ones actually on the set who ever knew what was going to happen. Even the other actors involved didn't know until they got there. The actor who shot Bill didn't know he was going to kill Bill until he was handed a gun on that final day. Because they wanted to be top secret about everything, which I think it's important that you don't see that coming. So I found out probably two weeks before we shot it, and it gave me a real sense of peace.
That's amazing. Well, I was growing out a short pixie 'do at the time and we really just tried to create the most unattractive thing possible. And my hair is naturally very curly and I straighten it all of the time, so I would roll out of bed and carry my 'fro to work and enhanced it and turned it into the glorious thing that was Diane Snyder.
Why did you leave Ed early?
They were very generous in providing me with an opportunity to stay, but I had started working on some movies and was having great fun exploring other characters, so I actually did part ways with Ed.
And you wanted to grow your hair out.
I just needed to grow my hair out. I was not getting a date like that.