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The Not-So-Happy Hooker

Concussion‘s Robin Weigert discusses double lives and the hazards of the American dream achieved

In director Stacie Passon’s Concussion, a wearied, frustrated woman—Robin Weigert’s Abby—finds excitement in escaping her suburban life for afternoons as a Manhattan call girl. Weigert herself, in her real life as an actress, acknowledges the pleasure of trying on different personas: “Most of us don’t get to live out quite so many lives as actors do,” she says. DuJour spoke to Weigert about playing Abby, working day jobs and how boredom gets the best of everyone.

What drew you to Concussion? It’s a pretty complicated role you took on.
I was drawn to the script. I thought it was well written, and it really appealed to me how porous it was, how available it was to interpretation. I appreciated the humor in it. So I decided to plunge in.

It’s easy to relate to Abby’s ennui; we’ve all wondered what else is out there for us.
I think this is one of the hazards of the American dream achieved, which is to say: now what? After all the hard-won battles of your twenties and thirties to have your place in the world, you’ve got the prize, but where are you? That’s a very recognizable situation to people from all walks of life.

Well, the decision she makes to spice up her life with a gig as a prostitute is a big one.
It’s funny because in order for something to have dramatic impact, you have to see a character acting out impulses other people would not. I think where it strikes a universal note is that in any marriage, there comes a point in which at least your fantasy life has gone haywire. We are all creative creatures by nature and we invent scenarios in our minds. This doesn’t mean we all act them out as this character does.

A friend of mine saw the movie and said, “We all become afternoon hookers after a while.” Where does the frustrated imagination go? This movie takes you on that journey.

Have you taken the opportunity in your own life to try out new selves?
As an actor that’s the nature of the beast and it has an upside and a downside. Really what you’re doing with every character is in some way exploring potentialities.

You’ve been quoted as saying you were the world’s worst waitress.
You have to do what you have to do to make your way before you get work as an actor. People have to put in their time. I don’t know that I look back on any of those experiences having been hugely beneficial to me on any level beyond the time put in. I don’t look at my time in various service professions as having taught me that much that was useful sadly. I wish I thought of it as more productive.

Your character gets pretty involved with some of her clients, probably too much so.
She is on a bit of a rollercoaster, but there is also a journey being taken. Each step requires the step before. It’s an improbably journey she takes, which is why each step has to seem somewhat organic. She can’t leap from her steady life into this other life in one big jump. Each client is a different reflection of some aspect of herself.

You open up this package that looks like it’s going to be a racy sex flick and then it’s dealing with fairly deep questions.

Abby really does seem to have two sides of herself. What’s your own evil twin-type behavior?
One of the luxuries of being an actor is you get to do this again and again without consequence. For most people to try on so many hats, there would be some fallout. But we get to do it within the safety of character, to explore our light and our darkness. The self is not the static thing we tell ourselves it is. We’re not that solid.

Concussion opens in theaters October 4. Watch the trailer below: