Titled after the snarky tune sung by Groucho Marx in the Marx Bros. film Animal Crackers, Hello I Must Be Going is the story of a 30-something woman who becomes re-dependent on her parents after the catastrophe of her divorce. Her emotional slump is changed when she starts a relationship with a young man who happens to be her father's client's son (played by Christopher Abbott, from "Girls"). Equally emotionally honest and sexy, the film directed by Todd Louiso and written by Sarah Koskoff proves that this memorable actress is well-deserving of more lead roles in her colorful filmography's future. Making her debut in 1994 opposite Kate Winslet in Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures, Lynskey has become a familiar face to both the independent and mainstream film world, appearing in movies like Up in the Air, The Informant!, Sweet Home Alabama, Away We Go, and soon The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Lynskey also had an extensive supporting part as Charlie Sheen's on-screen neighbor in the TV show "Two And a Half Men."
Speaking over the phone, I chatted with the lovely Lynskey about her film, including what she liked about the project, and her Marx Brothers movie secret, and the significance of bad timing when it comes to finding someone you love.
Hello I Must Be Going is now playing in select theaters.
What sweetness do you see in Marx Brothers movies, and do you have any personal favorite Marx Brothers moments?
Um ... I have never seen a Marx Brothers movie.
I know, it's terrible. I was so sure that somebody would have asked me that before now, and I have been very lucky, because I can't lie. And I was like, "Oh god, I feel like a terrible actress because I haven't watched a Marx Brothers movie."
Was that a secret on set? Or did it become a point of hazing that you were acting in a movie named after a Groucho Marx song and hadn't even seen the sequence?
I don't know if I actually mentioned it. I don't think I volunteered that information [laughs].
In your recent roles in movies like 'Win Win,' 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower,' and now this, you have this common thread of playing these slightly older women who make strong life choices that influence these younger men. Is that trend something you're interested in exploring as an actress, or is that just more of a coincidence?
That's a coincidence. That's an interesting connection to me; I never have really thought about it. All those characters; they are such different stories, but I've never thought of them having that common thread. I guess that most of those movies are about men, so that could be what it is.
Do you feel that age or experience is the bigger factor in being able to understand relationships?
I think experience. If you're 16 years old, and you go through heartbreak, you're understanding of emotions of feelings that some people may never experience.
How personal was this movie for you, especially as a vehicle for you to be leading? Were these ideas you take in personal capacity?
It definitely was one of those times that I felt connected in a very particular way. There are some things you just kind of regulate, and you know that you have to do it. And this film is one of those. I don't really know what it was. There's that transition that Amy is in where she doesn't know what her life is going to be from now on, and that was very interesting to me. And also, I love playing a real love story. I love movies that are about that.
There were a lot of different things within the script that were very exciting to me. The story was so interesting. I love the idea of going from nothing and feeling horrible and building something concrete and real.
A very common focus in comedy is the idea of the manchild - grown men who exhibit juvenile emotions and behaviors. Is that something you were interested in presenting from a female perspective - a woman functioning like a teenager?
I really like that [about this movie]. I like the fact that it was a woman, because you have seen a lot of stories like that about men. I was curious to see how people would react if there was a woman in that exact situation.
This is not an immediate comparison, but it's an easy one. Was there any hesitation to comparisons between this movie about an older woman and a younger man to that of 'The Graduate'?
I don't know. Todd [Louiso] didn't bring it up to me. I was conscious of the fact that there were a few similarities, but it wasn't anything to be afraid of.
I have a question about the ending of the movie. If you were Amy's friend, what would you have advised her to do? Does timing mean you aren't meant to be with someone?
The thing that I love about the ending is that I really believe not all relationships are meant to be forever. There are some people who come into your life and they're like, a little ferry or something, to take you from one part of your life to another, and the relationship is good for that time, and you can help each other as well and change. Maybe it would have been forcing something. What's [Amy] going to do, meet him at university?
I kind of think, "Aw, that would be nice." But it's also honoring the relationship to let it go, you know. Let him go. Everybody needs that time in their lives when they can be free and single and doing what they want. I liked that about it.
Where does your character go next? Does she have a moment in which she is free and independent and single? Is that the track of life when it comes to relationships?
I guess so. Maybe you should write a sequel.
Yes, I'll write the sequel. "Hello I'm Here, Again."
Yes, please. Get started on that. Make it so. I don't know. That's kind of what I assume. I assume she knows what she deserves, and what she needs from a relationship. At least there's that. She may not get back into another relationship right from there, though.
Could you tell us about your part in the next David Wain ('Wet Hot American Summer') movie, 'They Came Together'? Is it at all comparable to other Wain films?
I am such a fan of his. I said yes to that film without even reading the script. I was just like, "Yep, whatever it is." And then I read it and thankfully it is very funny, and my character is very funny. It's sort of like Wet Hot American Summer, as it has the same people in it, like Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd, and Michael Ian Black. But it's a romantic comedy. But it's a romantic comedy in the way that Wet Hot American Summer is a camp movie. It's really, really funny. A lot of those bizarre things.
Do you have a favorite scene in 'Wet Hot American Summer'?
It's like if I had ten children, and you're asking me to pick my favorite child. I would have to say the one that every time I just love so much is when Paul Rudd has to pick up his cutlery, and doing it so dramatically. And when Michael Showalter is the old comedian and telling the jokes about how old he is, and everyone is crying with laughter.
I think that's Paul Rudd's finest performance.
I agree with you. I told him that the first time I met him. He thought that was a bit funny, but he didn't think he was his best in that movie.
Quick Questions with Melanie Lynkey
What did you have breakfast this morning? Oatmeal that had some bananas on it. Very exciting.
Favorite pop song growing up? I really love Fleetwood Mac. I would always call into the local radio station and request that they play "Dreams."
Favorite fruit? Raspberries, probably?
If you could be someone else for 24 hours? Dave Grohl's wife. Then I would get to be near Dave Grohl for a day. I love Dave Grohl, I went to his New Years Eve party a couple of years ago.
Age of first kiss? 14.