Some movies are easy to dismiss. For example, psychological thrillers based around a love thriller seems like has been done ad nauseum. There seems to be only so much more than can be explored in the genre. Up On the Glass is a movie from the genre that actually looks at things from a different slant. Going more for deeper storytelling, the movie stands out. AIPT recently interviewed Chelsea Kurtz about her pivotal role in the film.
AIPT: How did you get involved with Up On The Glass?
Chelsea Kurtz: So I had the good luck to have gone to college with the woman who cast the movie for them. And when she was casting it, she reached out and asked if I wanted to come in. I read the script, and I was really, really taken with it. I thought it had a really even hand, and I really connected with Liz. So I auditioned for it. And I think a couple of days later, I was offered the role.
AIPT: How would you describe your character, Liz?
Kurtz: I would describe her is kind of an image that I get of her, which is a house with a strong foundation but that has cracks running all through it. She an artist, she’s an earthy human being, but I think she’s been sort of handed a lot of disappointments in life, I would say, especially in the last decade of her life, and handles it really gracefully, but is being pretty worn down by the life that she’s chosen for herself.
AIPT: The way Liz is introduced is interesting. At first, she’s kind of talked about in hushed tones. And the first time we’re introduced to her is actually over the phone. So before you even make your onscreen appearance, there’s already been this persona built around her. Did you have any pressure to play that?
Kurtz: I thought a bit of that pressure, particularly because I think inherent in what you’re referencing to, is the fact that Liz didn’t even enter the story in person until about halfway through. So to play a character who’s such a lynchpin for so many of their lives, particularly Jack, the protagonist and my husband, Andy, and getting half as much screen time as, say, Jack does. I felt some pressure to give her all the gravity that she required.
AIPT: Up on the Glass is a psychological thriller, but then it deals with class division and self-worth. There is a lot going on here. Where did you draw the inspiration for Liz?
Kurtz: I drew heavily on the energy of a couple of women in my life, including my mother, people I really admire who have held up and are symbols of strength to me in spite of great odds against them. Yeah. I wanted to seek energy that was more grounded than my energy. I have a tendency to be pretty frenetic and neurotic. And, yeah, just the image of that old house kept coming up when I was working on Liz, just that she’s pretty implacable. And I wanted to use women, the energy of women who embody that to me.
AIPT: How would you describe Up On the Glass?
Kurtz: I would say it’s a psychological thriller about what happens when a human being who is really handed the short stick in life, when you put the normal pressures of society on them and surround them with glittering things, how warped that pressure can make a person.
AIPT: How much collaboration was there between you, the cast, and director Kevin del Principe.
Kurtz: That was one of the things that working on this so dreamy, was that there was a ton of collaboration, which is the best part of independent film, particularly. I didn’t get the opportunity to spend much time with any of the other actors except Chase Fein, who plays Jack. But our work together was very collaborative. He is a dream actor to work with because he’s super generous, is definitely a believer, as I am, that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If I’m taking care of you, and you are taking care of me as, actors, then what we’ll create will be something better than if we’re both taking care of ourselves.
But also Kevin and Nikki were, again, what you ideally want as an actor on set. And nothing ever came out is like, “You stand over there and do this, more angry, more sad.” Everything that they did was like, “Well, why don’t you try this?” And everything was always open for a collaborative conversation of like, “Well, I feel really stiff doing it like this. Why don’t I try this?” “Okay. Try that.” So that was, yeah, the best of all possible worlds in terms of a collaborative environment.
AIPT: How did you prepare for the role?
Kurtz: Mostly my preparation for this role was more instinctual. I spent a lot of time studying and trying to embody the women that I thought most captured Liz’s energy. I spent a good amount of time reading and rereading the script, but I didn’t do a whole lot of sort of technical work on it. And I’m glad that I didn’t because so much of it did end up being light on your feet in the moment kind of work because I was blessed with a good director and a good scene partner.
AIPT: That’s actually very interesting because this being such a tightly-focused, character-driven story, it’s very interesting that you were going at it based on instinct. You mentioned theater work, and also you’ve done a lot of television and movies also. Which do you prefer to work in?
Kurtz: My short answer would be, I suppose, theater just because that’s where I got my background. I really, really love live theater. To me, there’s no substitute for the feedback as an actor that you get from having a live audience there. But the long answer is, as an actor, I hope I never have to choose. Getting to do all of them, the excitement that you get doing network television, the collaborative elements in independent film, the electricity of the audience relationship with the live theater, I would personally be really unhappy if I didn’t have access to all of those things in my career. So I hope I never have to choose.
AIPT: What future projects are you working on?
Kurtz: As of right now, most everything is up in the air. I’m doing some Zoom theater projects with some friends. But other than that, everything’s on hold right now, waiting for the world to kind of take a breath in again.