Melissa Leo on “Unlovable” and what everyone gets wrong about her acting process


On "Salon Talks," Academy Award-winning actress Melissa Leo peeled back the layers of her acting process and how she approached films like "The Fighter," "The Equalizer" films and "Flight" opposite Denzel Washington, and her newest film, "Unlovable," directed by Suzi Yoonessi and starring John Hawkes and the film's screenwriter Charlene deGuzman.

"The character that I'm playing is going to inform what my experience is a lot because I do go pretty deeply into who that character is," Leo told SalonTV's D. Watkins. "I will often find myself talking with a filmmaker and saying, 'You know, I can have this nice, calm conversation with you right now, but when we're shooting this scene, I'm not gonna be able to talk to you in this way. I'm gonna be far more demanding or more reticent,' or whatever it is the character that's been given to me to play."

Leo also opened up about working with different types of actors and directors and how the key players inform her experiences on set. She opens up creatively with directors like Antoine Fuqua, with whom she worked on "The Equalizer" films, who allow actors to infuse their own spin on characters. Plus, she adds: "Every actor should be so lucky as to work opposite Denzel Washington. He just gives you the truth right away."

In Leo's latest role playing a recovering sex and love addict in "Unlovable," she admits she didn't get to go as deep as she wanted in her character study of Maddie. Maddie meets the lead character Joy, a much younger woman in the first stages of love and sex addiction recovery, at a 12-step program and becomes her reluctant sponsor.

According to Leo, the "light, girlish" aesthetic of "Unlovable" helps to debunk myths about sex addicts and challenge misperceptions about recovery. "Much of the film is this arduous, slow march toward recovery and the propensity that we all have to sort of backslide on our own selves and do things that aren't making us happy, aren't keeping us healthy," Leo said.

Watch the video above to hear why Leo thinks "Unlovable" is the perfect combination of lighthearted and heavy, and her take on what everyone gets wrong about method acting. "Unlovable" is available on digital now.


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