Kate Moennig, best known for her work on the series Ray Donovan and The L Word, co-stars with Heather Graham in the romantic comedy My Dead Boyfriend. Directed by ER vet Anthony Edwards, the story centers on Mary (Graham), a temp worker who walks into her NYC apartment only to find her slacker boyfriend (John Corbett) dead on the couch. Moennig has a scene stealing part as Zoe, Mary’s best friend who, while stuck in a dead-end cubicle job, still has a rocker’s spirit. During our phone convo with Moennig, she talked about the film, Ray Donovan, and her work as a DJ.
FYS: Was the setting of New York in 1999 a draw for you, as My Dead Boyfriend has that same spirit of the romantic comedies set around that era.
KATE MOENNIG: Yeah that is exactly what I was saying to someone two minutes ago. Part of the charm was not only that it’s set in the East Village but it’s set in the East Village at that time. When things were far more carefree. I just watched the movie on Sunday, and I was really happy with the way it turned out. It reminded me of those old indie films that we really don’t see anymore that take place in New York. And I love those films so to be a part of one that has a similar feeling made me really happy.
FYS: There’s a sequence in the film where there’s a ton of overlapping dialogue that was really well executed (note – the scene features most of the ensemble trying to figure out what the heck is going on). Was that complex to do?
KATE MOENNIG: I know what you’re talking about. I remember that took a full day to shoot. There were so many people in that scene and we were outside in a public place because they weren’t going to lock the entire park down for us. That was just a day of coverage pretty much – just to get everybody’s reactions to information and to one another and to the reactions of who is saying what to whom. It turned out really well. I agree with you.
FYS: I just saw a video of Anthony Edwards discussing how he had the rights to the novel since 2001.
KATE MOENNIG: Wow..
FYS: What was your experience working with Edwards?
KATE MOENNIG: Yeah it was refreshing because Tony – he knows the kind of position we’re in (with being) in front of the camera. There was a freedom that he allowed us but also he had a really good eye for detail. He has so much experience. He knows what to look for and he knows what will work in an edit and what won’t work. The direction he gave, it was direction I never questioned. I was under the impression he could be possibly editing the film in his brain which I really appreciate.
His direction was always honing certain things because he knew what tone he wanted to set. Again, there was a lot of freedom. There wasn’t like ‘Oh you have to stick to the dialogue.’ We were really able to explore these dynamics with each other really openly which was so freeing and fun to do.
FYS: What has made Ray Donovan such a creative success?
KATE MOENNIG: Yeah, I think the woman who created the show, Ann Biderman, she had a really good eye for casting. I agree with you, I think everybody in that show fits who they’re supposed to play perfectly and then some. You can’t deny a really talented group of actors on a show. And I’m sure that’s some of the appeal. There are people like Eddie Marsan, Dash Mihok, and Paula Malcomson – there’s a host of brilliance sitting there, looking at you. You can’t ignore that.
FYS: Has your priorities as an actor changed over the years?
KATE MOENNIG: Hmm . . . that’s a good question. I think, if anything, I’m not readily open to saying “yes” to everything that comes my way. I think I’ve gotten a little more choosy with what I want to invest my time in. Only because I really want to like what I’m doing. My Dead Boyfriend is a perfect example of something that I was genuine excited about going off to do. When I was doing it, I felt revived. When it was over, I felt like I completed something. And I love that feeling. If anything, I’m always on the quest for that.
FYS: This movie had its share of twists and turns, and it’s not your average romantic comedy.
KATE MOENNIG: Yeah. I liked it for that reason. It’s a dark comedy and if this film took itself seriously, you couldn’t have all those twists and turns; no one would believe it. But it is mocking itself in a way. I thought the further it went and the more outlandish it got, it was all for the better. That made me really happy. I remember when I first read it, my first impression was I didn’t know if I was going to like this. And I finished it, and I really did enjoy it.
FYS: This movie is also refreshing as a narrative, as people completely communicated with each other in a much different manner pre-social media explosion. One probably couldn’t get away with as much as Primo did with My Dead Boyfriend.
KATE MOENNIG: No you couldn’t, because everybody’s motives would get busted through Instagram or Twitter or Facebook. I like that it took place before the social media phenomenon. I kind of miss those days of simplicity where you’d have an answering machine or a landline. Cell phones were this prized possession that few people had. That’s part of the reason I think why (Heather Graham’s character) goes on the journey to figure out what she’s looking for because you don’t have that instant gratification (of social media).
FYS: My final question is your passion as a DJ – when did that originate?
KATE MOENNIG: I’ve always liked music. I grew up on music like A Tribe Called Quest and Gang Starr. I used to do a bit of it when I lived in New York back in the ‘90s, and I lost track of it when I started working. And then, as luck would have it, it just kind of fell back in my lap again a couple of years ago and I really have been able to sit there and figure it out. There really is an art form to it when you strip away all the technology and you’re just manually beat matching two different sounds together. There’s an art to it, and I think it’s overlooked and that’s what I’m most fascinated by.
FYS: Thanks so much for your time and talk to you soon.
KATE MOENNIG: Thank you very much and have a great day.
- My Dead Boyfriend is now playing in select theaters and is available on VOD and Digital HD.