The 2022 SFFILM Festival ended its second day with a special conversation with actress Jenny Slate ahead of screening her upcoming feature film, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, inside the Castro Theater. The heartfelt comedy/”documentary” film is directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp.
Jenny Slate explains her love for work
In this open conversation with SFFILM’s Director of Programming, Jessie Fairbanks, Slate did not hold back. Those familiar with Slate know she has a wide variety of roles many know and love her for. As for what attracts her to each creative project, Slate says, “I really just want to work. My career is varied because a lot of times, I was taking what was there. Sometimes I’m really lucky, like, my friend Joe Mande who wrote on Parks and Rec, wrote me [Mona-Lisa Saperstein]. It ended up being something people really liked but mostly forever. I just wanna be an actress who is employed.”
She continues, “I honestly still just feel like I have so much that I’d like to do, and a lot of times, I just feel like I haven’t been given a chance yet to fully go. I actually really don’t. I guess you’re not supposed to say that ’cause it seems like you’re not confident in yourself, but it actually comes from like… I wish people would understand I’m like a puma. Let me go, let me go faster. I just want more.”
The past and future roles of Jenny Slate
Slate recognizes she’s been fortunate with her former roles but has since decided she wants to work with people that she thinks are good, even if it’s a small part. “Be around people that you really think aren’t fakers, and you think are good people by your own standards. That’s why I’m in Everything Everywhere All At Once; it’s not a big part, but it’s a good one.”
Yes! For those who don’t know, Slate stars in a more minor role in the very much talked about Everything Everywhere All at Once, starring Michelle Yeoh. Slate confidently echos, “I think because they made this movie, there’s a chance for a lot of things to change.” No spoilers are here other than you need to watch it.
Looking back at Slate’s pomeranian fighting character (IYKYK) to her long list of previous roles, is there a dream role she would want? “I guess this is the time where I’m like, ‘Let me be on Severance.'” (Severance is a major hit show exclusively on Apple TV+ that launched in February 2022.) She laughs and adds that she’d love to be in scary movies. She no longer wants to section herself and is ready to jump into genre stuff… But there’s also some filmmakers where she’s like, “Hi!” *Waves*
And of course, here we are at Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
It was revealed that Marcel the Shell with Shoes On was seven years in the making. As Slate explains the process, it’s clearly no wonder why this fan-favorite movie took a bit of time.
In “short,” a treatment was written, and the team improvised the treatment. Nothing is scripted, simply improvised from this one treatment. Director Dean Fleischer-Camp and screenplay writer Nick Paley go through hours on hours of audio to make new studio decisions off that. The story is shaped into what it is today and then moves on to animation. Talk about teamwork.
As to how Slate gets into their headspace of Marcel each time, she shares, “Marcel is how I can be if I really do become uncluttered if my own mind. Just go for the simple answer that you know is true, and that’s how I’d be Marcel. It’s not that hard. It’s hard for me to go in my daily life to be like Marcel. He is aspirational for me and sort of a north star in terms of behavior and existence to me.”
And just before the lights dim… Jenny Slate has one last thing to share
Marcel is absolutely a north star for so many Marcel the Shell with Shoes On fans. Minutes before wrapping up the discussion, Slate is asked what thought or emotion she can share to set the scene: “We made this movie for ourselves to repurpose emotions that were lodged, like corrosive and interesting in Dean and myself. We made it with hopeful sentiments and tried really, really hard to keep Marcel as the person he was when we met him a decade ago. Believe it if you want, and I think you should [know] that we genuinely made it for you, whoever you are. And I include myself in you… with your consent.”
A24’s Marcel the Shell with Shoes On releases in theaters on June 24, 2022.
Photos courtesy of SFFILM. Photo by Tommy Lau.