Just Making Out: Pamela Adlon on Conception, Say Anything and More

I met Pamela Adlon at the American Film Market when I moderated a panel with the cast of Conception. She was worried that we had an entire hour to talk in front of the audience, but I introduced a groundbreaking idea. Let’s throw it to the audience! That kept them talking the full 60 minutes. The film, now available, intercuts between several different couples on the night they conceive a child. Adlon plays the partner to Moon Bloodgood, going through artificial insemination. We hung out at the bar with Adlon to talk a little more about Conception, and her roles in memorable films Say Anything, Gate II and The Adventures of Ford Fairlane. Check out our Conception interviews with writer/director Josh Stolberg and actor Jonathan Silverman as well.

CraveOnline: So you do all of your scenes in one day and it ends up with what seems like a more substantial credit than movies where you probably work a lot longer.

Pamela Adlon: Oh God, yes. Yeah, like I said on the panel, everybody wants to work. Nobody’s extending themselves. Like, what am I doing Tuesday in March or whatever, and it’s really fun. You’re right. The lure of being able to finish one thing in one day and not have to see it pan out over months and then hurricanes happening and craziness and going back and not being able to finish something. It’s a perfect kind of storm to make a great short film. Not a short film, but I mean something that’s easy and quick.

Did it feel like a complete piece on the day you did it?

Oh yeah. Yeah, it felt like our story. We talked about our story and our history and how long we’ve been together, what we were trying to do to conceive and then Moon and I getting to know each other and that being fun. Just being playful and intimate. Seeing each other for the first time and saying, “I’m not gonna…” I’m like, “I’m totally not gonna…” and then we’re like just making out and I don’t even remember it. It’s funny because Josh was like, “What was it like?” And I’m like, “Did we do that? Because it didn’t feel like anything physical or sexual.”

I remember it as one of the more tender segments. It’s not like the sex tape story or the ass injection story. Was it important to you to portray a lesbian couple and have it just be an equal part in this sprawling ensemble romantic comedy?

Oh, to me it’s like air or whatever. It’s just normal. But yes, when you put it like that, of course it’s important to me. It’s huge to me. Anybody having an issue with that in this day and age, ever, still, is absurd and makes me sick to my stomach. I always say that my family, I’m raising three daughters and I’m pretty sure we all love men but I say we’re the gayest straight family you could ever meet. Yeah, it’s hugely important and if I could be a part of that, I’m thrilled.

What was your experience on Say Anything and when did you know it was becoming a perennial?

That’s so funny because I was thinking about Say Anything in our panel, because I always say it’s the best movie that I’ve ever been in, but I’m barely in it. Nobody knows I’m in it. There’s more stories about making that movie which I can’t say now, but I just think every Cameron Crowe movie is the greatest movie. I love all of his movies. To me he hasn’t made one movie that hasn’t resonated with me. Almost Famous I think is a perfect movie and Jerry Maguire and Say Anything and Vanilla Sky. I love them. He’s such a good filmmaker.

And We Bought a Zoo.

Obsessed. My daughters and I saw it last Christmas. It’s fabulous. It’s so good. So I was just excited to be working on the film. Everybody was there and we were all young. There was a lot of stuff going on with everybody. I think I knew Eric Stoltz before then but he was a P.A. on that movie. He also played the guy who never could graduate who was the key master of the parties. I worked with Eric again, he directed me in “Boston Legal” and he came and did a few episodes of “Californication” and he’s so good, amazing and I always admired and worshiped him as an actor. Just doing that movie, it was sweet. I have feelings about that movie because it went deep for me emotionally in a lot of different ways. Then when it came out, it was just this fabulous kind of painting of American youth and I just saw Ione Skye. That’s so funny, like two weeks ago I was at Color Me Mine with my daughters and she was there. She was leaving and she was looking at me, and I never think anybody knows who I am or would remember me. She looked at me and she was like, “Hi, I didn’t know if you’d remember me.” I’m like, “Oh my God, you’re Ione.” So yeah, I’m so proud to be in that movie. I love that movie, love that movie. I was thinking about that movie when I was saying I’m so proud to be in Conception because I don’t really know any other movies that I’m in that are that good.

I do have some favorites that I hope you’ll appreciate. Gate II was big for me because The Gate was one of the first horror movies I was brave enough to see and I was so excited there was a sequel. Did you have a good experience making it?

Yeah, I was excited to make it. It was hard. It was a lot of special effects. It was forced perspective. It was crazy. The undercranked sh*t, that was nuts. We would record our scenes and they would undercrank it. We’d have to mouth it really slowly while the little ballerina lady in a minion suit was on the floor in a cage so they could overcrank it and make her look like she was going crazy. Louis Tripp and I would be up 50 feet above with a cutout on the desk where that cage would be but the cage was down [below], so we’re looking at nothing. And acting with my giant boyfriend who turned into a purple monster. I got hurt on that movie when his hand comes through and pulls me through the roof. You can see it in the movie, I look like a doll or a dummy, but it’s actually me and I was knocked unconscious. It was crazy. We were in frigging Kitchener, Toronto in the middle of the winter and the kid Simon who played the cohort, he would have to roll around in the snow in his purple skin because we were shooting 20 hour days. It was nuts.

Just to cool off?

Yeah. It was totally fascinating. Craig Reardon did all the makeup and everything. That was dope. That movie was crazy. I have a video of one of the guys who turns into the devil in his dressing room and I’m playing “Sympathy for the Devil” on my boom box and he’s performing it in his makeup. I have to dig that out sometime for people like you who would love it.

What was your experience on Ford Fairlane?

It was really fun. He was so lovely.


Yeah. Renny Harlin was so great. We were all excited. They took an interest in me and Dice just thought I was the sh*t. We made this band and they made these outfits for us, these leather outfits with studs and whatever to work with David Patrick Kelly who played our stalker, who was in The Warriors. Like totally obsessed, obsessed. That was so fun and I loved Dice. In my life I’ve worked with a lot of comedians. I’ve worked with Redd Foxx and Dice and Louie, all of these people who just have this beautiful other life and then come in and out. It’s been an amazing experience for me.

What’s coming up on “Californication?”

It’s my most favorite season since season two. We had a lot of fun with great outside people but we were able to have a good storyline with the core cast. It’s a lot of music and rock n’ roll. We have Tim Minchin and Manson and Steve Jones. We shot at the Greek. It was really fun.

Did it surprise you that Louis C.K. was taking an extra year to do the next season of “Louie?”

No, but it’s great. It’s really good. Important and he does two shows a night every night now until February. It’s too much. He’d be back having to have everything done so it’s smart. Everybody hates you when you’re the best and everybody hates you when you’re the worst.

Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.