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Kate Micucci On Making A 14th-Century Nun Relatable For ‘The Little Hours’


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The Big Bang Theory to the Netflix series Easy. Her big screen roles include Mike Birbiglia’s Don’t Think Twice and, currently, writer/director Jeff Baena’s The Little Hours, a heavily improvised comedy based Bocaccio’s The Decameron. Micucci plays Sister Genevra, a frustrated nun who’s struggling to figure out who she is. We got the chance to talk to Micucci about finding her character, as well as working with co-star and first-time producer Aubrey Plaza.

What was it that brought you to The Little Hours?

Basically, I didn’t know Jeff [Baena] well, but I knew him a little bit through Aubrey and a bit of what he does [and] what he makes, and I set up my meeting and when we met about the movie [when] a crazy thing happened. It was a terrible rainstorm in Los Angeles, which is super rare, and we were eating at a coffee shop and right outside, where we were, we felt this jolt and a giant flash and a transformer on the wires just blew up in front of us.

Yikes!

And because of the rain, the wires were sparking and flying into the streets. So we called 911, and there was a girl jogging and the waiter at the restaurant ran and grabbed her. So we were all stuck in this little coffee shop. So it was a very, kind of, serendipitous, struck-by-lightning moment. I’m really glad that Jeff felt the same way that I did, where I was like “I really want to do this movie,” and it all worked out.

This is all very cinematic.

I didn’t know that I had the part until later, but it was one of those unforgettable meetings. Mainly because of nature.

How did you take to the improvised format?

I was completely stoked. I really enjoy working that way. I think it’s just, it’s just such a fun free way to work. I love not having to go home and memorize your lines at night, which is a fun perk. It’s kind of freeing because it really just puts you in the moment, and you just have to speak your truth as the character. So it’s just a really fun way to be. It was really everything I hoped it would be and I have to say, working with Jeff, he’s got such a specific clear vision. So, it was really fun to just go “Okay, I know what he wants. I’m going to just head towards that direction.” Really, it was great.

Did everyone jump right into the modern American dialect, or was that decided later?

I think Jeff’s vision from the start was that we were talking like normal, how we would talk right now, you know? He didn’t want us to try to have an Italian accent and he didn’t want us to try to talk in an old-timey way from the 14th century. I’m really glad because that would have taken a lot of training. But it was just more freeing that way too. We were able to just worry about the character and not have to worry about accents or anything like that.

How was the camaraderie on the set? Even with everyone in character, it seemed like it was a pretty good time. Like the scene where you, Alessandra (Alison Brie), Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza), and Marta (Jemima Kirke) were drinking wine and singing together.

Oh my God. That is such a favorite scene for all of us. We’ve definitely bonded. We were learning the songs from the 14th century and singing it with harmonies. It felt like a silly slumber party. It felt like we were little kids at a sleepover in that moment and it worked really well because, essentially, we’re nuns in the 14th century who have been living in a convent, so we’re very sheltered We might as well have been 14-year-olds as far as the characters are concerned.

But yeah, we definitely bonded. We bonded over that scene especially, but also we were shooting in Italy, so being in Tuscany together and having fun days at work, then going out and having amazing Italian meals after. There was a lot of togetherness and we were really having a good time.

Was it hard to keep a straight face being around a cast like this? It seems like a lot of takes might have been ruined by people laughing.

You know, I always get worried because I don’t want to mess up a take. So, I have this trick I’ve been using forever, where I just pinch my fingers together really hard. If I think I’m going to laugh, I just focus on my pinched fingers. That’s my weird little trick, but I will say there were times where pinching my fingers really did not help and you can’t help it when you have all of these super funny people. I especially [had] trouble when Fred Armisen comes to town and is, I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s kind of a crazy look that he does and it was very, very hard to keep a Straight Face through that.

Had you spent any time researching what life was like in that time period, or the stories in The Decameron?

You know, I didn’t really do much research regarding the time period. I really dove into just thinking about what it would be like to be a nun and I did a lot more of imagining and writing things in my character. For me, I like to put myself in that situation and I didn’t really do much research about the time period itself. But thankfully, Jeff Baena has a wealth of knowledge about that time. So, he really was helpful in all of that, but yeah, I just was writing journal entries of my character and really diving into who she was as this frustrated person, really.

There’s definitely a lot to identify with, especially regarding your character not knowing who she was, or Alessandra’s increasing nihilistic dread. It’s very relatable, probably now more than ever.

Oh man. Truly. Really there as so many strong women in this movie and you get to see us all having a really fun, almost like freeing experience and you kind of follow that journey of all of the different women in the movie. So, yeah, I agree that it’s an important movie in that regard.



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Kate Micucci On Making A 14th-Century Nun Relatable For ‘The Little Hours’

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