Two Lovers arrives in theaters February 13 with a unique take on relationships for Valentine's Day. Starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Joaquin Phoenix as two-thirds of a love triangle that spins on the performance of actress Vinessa Shaw, Two Lovers explores the realities of relationships in the new millennium as only filmmaker James Gray can craft.
Grey, the genius behind The Yards and We Own the Night, has written and directed Two Lovers specifically for Phoenix. For the two female leads he turned to an Oscar winner in Paltrow and an up-and-coming talent in Shaw.
Shaw starred opposite superstars Russell Crowe and Christian Bale in 3:10 to Yuma and Josh Hartnett in 40 Days and 40 Nights, but her beginnings dates to childhood movies starring with Sarah Jessica Parker in Hocus Pocus and Rodney Dangerfield's Ladybugs.
She commands in every role she tackles. Shaw spoke to SheKnows about the challenges of Two Lovers and how working with Joaquin Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow was beyond a thrill. She confesses the true joy was being a part of a James Gray film.
SheKnows: When you first received James' script for Two Lovers, what aspect of the story most appealed to you?
Vinessa Shaw: I think the fact that it is a true relationship story and it had a lot of meat to it (laughs) as an actor. Purely as an audience member, it is a true story about love and the complications of it. How love and loss and everything in between is not as straight forward as it seems in the movies. I thought James was very honest about the complications of love.
SheKnows: Had you seen We Own the Night before you showed up on James' set?
Vinessa Shaw: No. (Laughs) I saw We Own the Night before we screened at Cannes.
SheKnows: I wondered because sometimes actors want to know what they're in for, others want to show up and be directed without any preconceived notions.
Vinessa Shaw: I did want to see the film. It opened in New York when we were filming. But I never got a chance.
SheKnows: So you were filming a movie with him while his film was out there, that must have been neat.
Vinessa Shaw: Yeah, it was really cool.
SheKnows: What kind of set did you find it with somebody who wrote the story and it truly is his vision on screen?
Vinessa Shaw: It's interesting. I tend to be a perfectionist as an actor. I grew up in the business. I was always taught to hit your mark and say your lines perfectly and don't cause any trouble. Being a teenager, you are just asked to be professional as an actor. But growing up, you're asked to explore and have more freedom in what you want to do with a character. But, I still have that perfectionist quality in me and meeting James allowed me to free myself of that. And here he is, Mr. James Gray...
Gray walks in and says a quick hello to Vinessa, James will be speaking with us in a few moments. Watch for Gray's interview February 13.
Vinessa Shaw (continuing): He says don't say anything bad about him. I have to make fun of him now while he takes a photo of me (laughs). With James I had to get rid any preconceived ideas. I had to run with it and go with what he wanted. That was unnerving for a perfectionist.
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