By: debbie lynn elias
When I last spoke with Moon Bloodgood during the press tour for The Sessions, she was “so preggers” but since then, she not only has a critically acclaimed and decorated film under her belt, but a new baby girl. At 9 weeks old, Moon is quite literally “over the moon” for her bundle of joy and in all honesty, “kinda just wants to be with the baby.” But while she’s embracing motherhood, THE POWER OF FEW, a film shot in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans pre-pregnancy in which she plays a pregnant woman, Mala, has hit theatres.
Written and directed by Leone Marucci and clearly inspired in style by Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, THE POWER OF FEW came to life through fan interaction with fans voting on various aspects of the film – casting, character names, locations, etc. Set in New Orleans, we meet five sets of characters, each with its own intersecting storyline. As we follow one story and point of view, characters from another story pop up and transition us into the same story but through their eyes. While the narrative easily shifts focus and characters move in and out of the foreground, ever watching is a young Black girl named Few who crosses everyone’s path and perhaps, alters destiny with her words, “Cause no more pain.” Putting the wheels in motion with a religious conspiracy involving the disappearance or theft of the Shroud of Turin, Marucci blends in aspects of poverty and urban crime with over-riding existential about choices and the ripple effect of life. Bloodgood’s Mala is an expectant mother, owner of the local market/pharmacy/internet cafe, and is just one of the five storylines.
Long an actress on my radar, Moon is refreshingly open, honest and candid about everything in life, something which led us to joking about swag and folks from Philadelphia and the “call it like it is” reality of life during our recent exclusive interview. And of course, we got down to brass tacks with not only THE POWER OF FEW, but New Orleans, strong women, Destiny and Fate.
Looking very pregnant in The Power of Few, am I correct in presuming it was shot while you were pregnant?
I wasn’t pregnant! Can you believe it? That’s the prosthetic. Isn’t that crazy? I wish I looked that skinny when I was pregnant. I was so fat.
Oh, you were not!
[laughing] I came in at the 25th hour for the movie. There was an actress who couldn’t do the film because her visa wasn’t going through. So, I came in. I flew in the next day and had to start shooting. It was crazy. I had to play a pregnant woman. At that time I was a smoker, I was having a cigarette standing there playing I was pregnant. I had no idea that I was going to have a baby in the following year.
The prosthetic was similar to how you actually did look. Although I think you were carrying a little bit lower in real life.
Did I? I just watched the film and I look and go, “God. I don’t feel like I really looked like that when I was pregnant. So, thank you! Lower and I was definitely heavier. I’m Asian so the round face got all chubby. My mom was joking with me. I got really plump. But you know what? I loved it. I never once got insecure about how I looked. I was just, “This is so great. It’s just baby fat, so it’s fun.” Now it’s not fun to actually have to take care of a newborn and your body is betraying you. I don’t even recognize myself. But it’s actually great motivation to get healthy, which I am. I’ doing an eating plan and I’m doing well.
But, let’s get down to business here with The Power of Few. This is one of the most unique methods of filmmaking I’ve heard of. From what I understand, the fans helped cast, the fans helped choose locations, the fans helped picked names of characters and were apparently also involved with editing choices at the end.
I didn’t know they were involved with the editing. That’s interesting. It’s a brilliant idea, isn’t it?
I think it’s phenomenal. Apparently there were also some fans on set while you were filming.
I don’t even know if I met anyone. I was only there for less than a week. I came in towards the end of shooting in New Orleans. I knew about the concept and what they were doing. I don’t if they picked my character’s name [Mala] because everything was pretty pre-set before I came in. I was such a last minute [addition]. I would have loved to have been casted by the fans! That’s way better.
What is about the character of Mala and this script as a whole that made you sit up and say “yes”? I’m fascinated with the script as a whole. The same story but from each character’s perspective and then played out thanks to “the power of Few.”
For me there’s always been a curiosity about destiny and fate and the ripple effect of just making choices and not knowing how one choice can affect the next 12 choices you make and how your life would turn out. And is your life pre-destined or is it a matter of choice? If you choose to be a good person, does your life have a better ripple effect? I love existential questions and that’s why I do a lot of science fiction. When I read the script – I had a day to decide to do if I’m going to do this film – and you see a cast like Christian Slater and Christopher Walken, you know you’re working with quality actors, and I loved the script. Leone Marucci [director] and I hit it off right away. I think concepts like this never die because people want to know what is the rippled effect in my life and how do things play out? What’s people’s destiny? I love the perspective of Few and how she’s that voice of hope. She literally changes the whole sequences. I like that you see both sequences. Sliding Doors is a movie I’m very fond of and I love that you get to see her life play out one way and then you get to see her life played out in a second way based on choice. That’s always been something that I’m very drawn to.
And with THE POWER OF FEW, to see how each individual point of view intersects in a ripple effect but from everyone’s different perspective based on their choices…..
Yes, based on their choices. What I like is that film characters are sympathetic to some character that you’re not. It just depends on the view you’re looking at. Some people don’t maybe deserve to have that choice that they get to live; maybe the Anthony Anderson character. But the thing is they’re making a different choice. What’s great is that no matter what, no matter how bad you are or how good you are, that one choice can change everything. And there’s always the road to redemption which you see Few changing when she’s giving them [Anthony Anderson and Juvenile aka Terius Gray] that speech [“Cause no more pain.”]
I don’t know if Marucci left it open ended on purpose or if everything was tied up in a neat little bow and then he chose to edit and change the ending, but when “the package” disappears at the end and goes off in the futuristic car, I became more interested in knowing what’s the next leg of the journey.
That’s the science fiction part of it. Where is the Shroud going? It does feel like it’s going somewhere into the future and maybe there’s a time travel. I don’t actually know the answer to that question or what Leone had planned for that, but I think he wanted to leave it kind of ambiguous so that we could all have a question mark and kind of fill in the blanks.It’s so ambiguous and so interesting, when it ended and my curiosity was piqued even further, I now want to see a sequel or even a series and follow the journey of this “package.”
Oh my God! That’s great! Leone would love to hear that! And that “package” moves from one place to the next and changes all of our lives and yet none of us even know. What’s so great about the Shroud is that none of us even knows that it’s at play. I think, in my own life, how many times am I in a situation that things are at play that I don’t even know about. How many times did I miss a catastrophe or if I’m at the airport…you never know. There are so many variables happening all around you.
When you do realize that something has happened and you missed it by a few minutes or by changing a flight, you go, ‘Whoa!’
I think everybody has a story like that. Everybody has a moment. For me, it was a car accident that happened in front of me and behind me and I just missed it just because a girlfriend said I should slow down. Everybody has those kind of stories, some kind of choice they made. I remember I was about to cross the street, I was in New York, and I walked out and a friend grabbed me back and a car went right past me. Right then my life changed. It could be different or I could be dead or maybe I would never have the baby I have now. Those things happen and you think, ‘Are they random or do they have a point? Is coincidence a coincidence or is there a meaning?’ I think with Leone, he wanted it to be deeper and he wanted it to be about something like the Shroud, something that’s ancient and maybe holy and something spiritual.
He’s got me hooked! What was it like shooting down in the Ninth Ward in New Orleans?
It was AMAZING! I love New Orleans! If it was a little safer , I would live there and move there and raise my kids. There’s no place like New Orleans. The people, the soulfulness from all cultures, the food, the music, the voodoo. There’s a little bit of debauchery and yet everyone is so colorful. I just fell in love with it. I need to go back. My husband’s never been and I really want to do another trip back to it and really get to see it because there’s nothing like it in the United States.
And how was it being in the Ninth Ward specifically given that still, to this day since Katrina, there are so many naysayers calling it “a toilet” and “a mess” and “a disaster.” ?
It is, and that’s probably why I would never live there. It’s still not what it was. And I’ve been there before and obviously since. You talk to people and everyone has a story about where they were [immediately post-Katrina] but that it’s so much better than it was. But I didn’t get a chance to go around much. It was very limited what I got to see, but it didn’t look as bad as what some people were saying. When I went to New Orleans before, I thought it was very similar. New Orleans is not polished. It’s a dirty city. . . Not to be elitist, but some cities are better than other cities and New Orleans is a special place. Just the whole French connection, just the vibe of it, and to see that happen is so sad because there’s such a beauty there, such a mystique about New Orleans.
Even in the midst of disaster there is still that very ethereal mystery to it.
It is. The voodoo and it’s sexy and kinda dangerous. There’s something about it. I want to spend more time there. Everything is so old and you just don’t feel like you’re in the United States.
For Leone to pick the Ninth Ward and New Orleans to film this movie just adds another dimension. And, of course, Louisiana has some incredible tax credit available for filming.
I wonder if that was an intentional choice to shoot there. I don’t know the answer to that. I imagine it was but you never know. And a lot of things are shooting down there. I wish to gosh that I could book something to go back to New Orleans. Instead, I keep going to Canada which, I love. But it’s night and day. I love the Canadians and I have a good time when I go up there but I love being American and I want to bring business here. But at the same time, it also makes easier to leave LA because nothing is shooting here anymore. So you can kind of live where you want. That’s kind of freeing.
What do you have coming up next? Any plans on the table or just baby time?
I’m just taking care of the baby. I’m on the tv show Falling Skies and that might go back again in August to Vancouver where we’ll be in our fourth season. I had to leave shooting in the middle of shooting to come home and get ready to have the baby. So, I’ve got that. And The Sessions came out. I’m super content. I feel like things are really good for me. I have a baby. I don’t have any need financially or creatively to go do my next job but if something comes up and it’s a good project and it makes sense I’ll do it. I’m just a working girl and I always get to do interesting projects.
You do. You always pick interesting projects.
I truly feel like they pick me. I am a lazy person. I do not seek out. I am not one of those actors who hustles and seeks out projects. They kind of come my way and I’m instinctual and I’m also not desperate so I’m never, “I have to do this” or “I have to keep working or I won’t be relevant.” It’s because I actually don’t think I’m a very good actor and because I’m that way, it’s the weirdest thing, The Sessions just came my way. I got hired at lunch with the director. I didn’t even audition. THE POWER OF FEW, someone falls out. I did a movie called Beautiful Boy which I loved. Things just kind of come my way and debbie, I have no idea why. I don’t feel like I’ve earned them. It doesn’t make me feel guilty but I think it’s because I’m not desperate about it.
But the roles that you have are perfectly suited to you. Beautiful Boy is a phenomenal film.
Did you see that?
I see everything that Maria Bello’s in.
I love her. She is a bad ass actress. I love her. She’s so tough but she’s so warm. When I worked with her, I just loved her immediately. There was no bullshit. She was so to the point. She said what was on her mind. I just love her! I always joked that I wanted to be her friend but I don’t think she ever wanted to be mine. When we see each other we still hug each other. There’s nothing but love.
To see you in films like Beautiful Boy and then as Vera in The Sessions, you’re dynamite in that role, is always a treat. You always bring something new to the table.
Thank you. And I swear to you, debbie, I did so little. [The Sessions] was a gift given to me. It was like John Hawkes was giving me gifts, Ben [Lewin] the director…and I did so little! I never realized doing so little could give you so much. I’m just shocked by that movie still. It will always be one of my favorites. I’m so glad the press loved it and you guys were so great that day when we were doing press. It was compliment after compliment.
The story [The Sessions] is fantastic but the performances… Helen [Hunt] got her nominations [and Spirit Award win, as did John Hawkes]. She’s another. She’s just like Maria. They can beat some ass. I like strong women. I love masculine strong women so I loved Helen immediately and she really liked me. I just loved it and watching her work and watching John [Hawkes] was amazing. I get to work with Christopher Walken. I get to work with Maria Bello. I don’t know how it happened. I never wanted to be an actor but it just keeps happening to me so I’ve got to think there’s something in the universe. I’ve got to thank God or whatever you want to call it. I feel really grateful.
I just want to keep see beautiful things falling in your lap. I truly appreciate all of your performances, the work that you do and the choices you make. You have a gift. You elicit emotion in people and you transform on the screen. From one performance to another you are emotionally chameleonic and bring something different to each project. We see different layers with each performance and for me, it’s wonderful to watch what you bring to the screen.
Thank you, debbie. Thank you!!! I always think I’m so bad. So I’m gonna take that and let that resonate. It’s so hard for me to accept but I will let this sink in all day. An actor can never hear that enough because we’re just insecure beings, so I appreciate that. . . Sometimes you want to hear the truth and sometimes you’re so scared, and then sometimes you already know it sucks and you don’t want to hear it. But, yea, the truth can sort of set you free.