Marisa Tomei Spent ‘a Couple of Nights’ on a Tugboat to Play a Captain in ‘She Came to Me’
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Film Marisa Tomei Spent ‘a Couple of Nights’ on a Tugboat to Play a Captain in ‘She Came to Me’

Marisa Tomei Spent ‘a Couple of Nights’ on a Tugboat to Play a Captain in ‘She Came to Me’



Marisa Tomei Spent ‘a Couple of Nights’ on a Tugboat to Play a Captain in ‘She Came to Me’

Marisa Tomei plays a lovelorn — and love-addicted! — tugboat captain in writer-director Rebecca Miller‘s “She Came to Me.” That may sound twee in theory, but Miller and Tomei anchor the character, an unpretentious and brazen-foot-forward woman named Katrina, in an emotional reality for this screwball indie comedy.

No one character gets top billing in “She Came to Me,” whether Katrina, or the writer’s-blocked opera composer Steven (Peter Dinklage) she seduces before becoming his muse, or Steven’s wife Patricia (Anne Hathaway), an uber-organized psychiatrist who thinks she’s breezy but most certainly isn’t.

The film shot on location in Brooklyn, whose harbor Katrina operates out of. In the film, Steven, faced with losing a major commission, takes a long, lonely walk that lands him in the arms and bed of Katrina, who ultimately becomes the subject of his next hugely successful opera.

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In order to prepare for the role, Oscar winner Tomei actually spent “a couple of nights” on a tugboat to get a sense of the cramped quarters (with Miller and cinematographer Sam Levy opting to shoot that space in a boxy ratio).

“I do that kind of thing,” she told IndieWire. “We were going to film on that actual boat, so I wanted to be familiar with the space. I had to have really felt that I could live there and have some sense of what it would be like to be living there and have that in my bones. I was with the crew, and we ate together, and we just kind of shot the shit and talked a lot.”

Tomei and Miller spoke to actual tugboat operators in New York, much like how Anne Hathaway watched a great deal of “nun cinema” to prepare to play an OCD-addled woman looking to live a convent life.

“I liked the camaraderie and hearing everybody’s stories about how everybody got onto the tugboat, why they chose this life, why this life chose them. (I was) letting it seep in in mysterious ways,” Tomei said.

“The tugboat community is a very tolerant one of people’s pasts. People have had some crazy pasts. It reminds me a little of film sets,” said Miller.

“It’s nonconformist,” Tomei said of the tug-operating lifestyle. “It’s very clear Rebecca wrote, ‘I’m an owner/operator.’ I’m not part of that world. It’s almost a lost art, these smaller boats. There are giant corporations. It was hard to find one or two to sleep on, be on, to find, to shoot on. They are giant boats now, and they all talked about the old days, the Wild West, riding out at sea. They’re cowboys. They love freedom, and they’re just not about conforming to society’s rules.”

“(The tugboat) felt like it was a very easy metaphor for independent film,” said Miller, whose past indies include Sundance winner “Personal Velocity” and Greta Gerwig-starrer “Maggie’s Plan.” “Because essentially that’s what you’re doing — you’re going out there against the huge, next big corporations and somehow pushing the big barges up the river. I mean, it’s a very similar situation.”

“Female captain!” Tomei said, pointing to her director.

“She Came to Me” opens in theaters from Vertical Entertainment on October 6.

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