BlackBook Interview: Lola Kirke Deconstructs Neo-Noir and the Fame Machine in ‘Gemini’
If you haven’t heard of Lola Kirke, you’re likely familiar with at least someone in her family. Her father, Simon was the drummer for rock greats Free and Bad Company. Her mother Lorraine owned the beloved West Village boutique Geminola. Her sister Domino is a singer, and her other sister, Jemima, is an actress – best known for her role as the spunky free spirit Jessa in Girls.
But the youngest of the Kirke clan has been steadily carving out a path of her own. In recent years, she’s appeared in such films as Gone Girl, American Made, and Mistress America. Currently, she stars in the Amazon phenomenon, Mozart in the Jungle while pursuing her own musical interests with a new solo album.
In her latest film, Lola explores the neo-noir genre while dissecting the cultural obsession with fame. Indeed, in Aaron Katz’s visually-striking Gemini, she plays Jill, the devoted personal assistant and best friend to Heather (Zoë Kravitz), a highly sought after young starlet. But when Heather becomes the victim of a heinous crime, Jill must wade into the dark depths of the actress’s life in order to clear her own name.
We recently spoke with Lola about her leading turn and her burgeoning musical career. As endearing as she is talented, she finds familiarity in the themes of Gemini – and also seems to be genuinely enjoying where her career is taking her.
What was it like bringing this LA neo noir mystery in Gemini to life with Aaron Katz and Zoë Kravitz?
It was really wonderful. I think I read something, but I’m not sure I’m right, that noir was created by accident, this lighting scheme that’s typical with noir. It’s something to do with not having light to not cast a shadow, and they rolled with it ended up embodying the shadow itself. And that’s really something that’s quite at the forefront of noir, the things you don’t see but that are always with. And it was really fun to update that genre and do it now and replace the weary male personas we do see in that world with myself, a woman.
It sounds like you’ve done your research. Did you watch any specific films of that genre for inspiration?
Yeah, definitely. Aaron really wanted me to watch – I always wanna say Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo, but it’s American Gigolo, a very different movie. And there was really informative, with a little-known Sharon Stone movie called Sliver. And then there was a film called Body Heat with Kathleen Turner and William Hurt. I watched a slew of these films that were all set in that genre, and it was really fun. I’ve always been a movie enthusiast, and it was great to explore things deeper.
As an actress and a musician, what was your perspective on what the film says about fame and celebrity?
I think in a lot of ways, you see a celebrity who is inundated by her own celebrity. I think that anonymity is a form of freedom, and it’s very interesting that we live in a world where people are constantly seeking to sacrifice their anonymity for the freedom that they perceive fame brings. It’s really exciting to get to evaluate those values in this film.
There’s definitely an uncomfortable scene with a fangirl in a restaurant. Have you had any of those negative experiences, where you had to define that line for you and your fans?
You know, rarely, I think when I play a show. As a musician, I’ve led this kind of double life where I’m like a successful actress and more of a struggling musician. I’m very excited when people come to my shows. And through Instagram, I’m like broadcasting my precise whereabouts at precise times. It’s great when people like me because they like my acting work show up to see me in this other context, but it also can be a little bizarre to be giving away my exact location. I love it, because it means that my music gets to reach more people, but at the same time, not everyone should know where you are and be able to find you. I’ve had instances, but nothing too scary.
I’ve become such a fan of your music.
Thank you so much.
I really loved “Monster.” What was it like recording that and shooting the video in Tokyo?
I recorded it with the rest of my record, live in Los Angeles. It was really fun, and I got to work with my boyfriend as my producer again, who I love working with, and a band filled with musicians I love and respect who are really close friends. So that was such a treat. But we shot the video when we were on location, shooting Mozart in the Jungle, and I’m so glad we did. Because it really raises the production value to shoot in Tokyo.
As an actress who’s also a musician, is that a particularly enjoyable role in Mozart in the Jungle?
Yeah, I mean my character on the show is like a far superior musician to the one in real life.
Well, I love your real-life music.
Aw, thank you. Well, it’s a very different kind of skill that she has.
Of course. So, who have some of your musical influences been?
Some of my musical influences are Neil Young, Graham Parsons, Gene Clark, a lot of people who I would say fit into the kind of cosmic American, Americana genre. I don’t really have other deep loves, musically.
Do you plan to do more music or is your focus mainly on acting these days?
Well I’m releasing my record in June, and I really love making music. So, it’s kind of just whenever I have time and opportunity, I will do one or the other.
And you come from a really artistic family. Growing up in that environment, have you always known you wanted to act and make music?
I always kind of wanted to act. Making music was something that felt a little less possible for me, something that I always kind of thought only men did, frankly. And I’m so glad that I was able to see beyond that, because I love making music.
Lola Kirke’s “Monster” is now available on iTunes, and Gemini is now in select theaters. Watch the trailer below.