Parker Posey and Eric Mabius at a screening of Price Check. Photo by George Pimentel/Getty Images.
Those who came to see the world premiere of Price Check on Wednesday night at the Eccles Theater were treated to something like a double feature.
First came the film, an entertaining and poignant office saga about an over-educated 36-year-old supermarket executive (played by Eric Mabius) who gets swept up in the crazy charisma of his new boss (Parker Posey), and risks his marriage and well-being for the rush of attraction, affirmation, and sudden purpose.
Then came an extended, hilariously bizarre Q&A that touched on horrible bosses, adultery, air castles and donkeys. Responsible were director Michael Walker along with cast members Posey, Mabius, Josh Pais, Victor Cruz and Cheyenne Jackson.
I just want to know where the inspiration came for the story.
Michael Walker: Mostly from my friends who were going through things, turning 40 and struggling between work and family, and having to give up the dreams of what they wanted to do in their 20s. And Susan was a character that I had wanted to write for a while.
I really enjoyed the film. I wanted to ask Parker Posey: how much did you have to ad-lib? And what did you bring to the role?
Parker Posey: Absolutely nothing. (Laughter) It was a great script. Mike and I talked about how what Susan wants, Susan gets. She’s so self-entitled, she thinks she deserves everything she wants. She’s just one of those monstrous crazy people. And I had a good time playing her. It was all on the page, really. I thought it was interesting, a woman’s ambition around having a baby. I never thought Susan would be a great mother. But she wants a baby. And she wants it now. There’s something really disturbing and I think darkly funny about that. It’s something that I’ve seen. Why are you laughing? (to Josh Pais)
Josh Pais: You’re funny to me. (Laughter)
Eric, can you share with us what it was like for you to make this movie?
Eric Mabius: It was probably the tightest schedule I’ve ever had on a project. And I don’t think that translates on film: looking at it is seems like there was a lot more time. There was no time for rehearsal, so what Michael put into motion was on the page. Fortunately Parker was quite willing to play, as we all saw.
Parker Posey: Josh, do you want to talk about it?
Josh Pais: We had a lot of fun. That was the experience. 16 days, the whole thing. It was fast.
Parker Posey: Talk about how cheap it was.
Josh Pais: How cheap it was?
Parker Posey: I brought my own bed to set. I have a wheely cot, and I brought that to sleep. It was not glamorous. “Oh, you did a little indie.” Yeah, it was a really indie movie. Suffering and painful. It was hard. I know you’re laughing. But it’s really hard what I do. (Laughter)
Parker Posey, you were phenomenal. We had a question about the budget. How much did it cost?
Michael Walker: It’s not really that interesting, how much it costs. I’ve seen films that cost less that look better, and I’ve seen films that cost a lot more that aren’t as good. You can look it up online if you really want to know.
Were you going for any specific message about ambition, sacrifice or happiness in the ending?
Michael Walker: I was going for something where you would make up your own mind. Some people who read the script didn’t understand what the problem was—he was with his wife in the end and had a nice job and what’s the problem? There’s something to be said for that. I have different thoughts on it depending on the day you ask me.
Victor Cruz: It’s one of those situations where people make choices, and the truth is you can’t judge if you’re not in that position. So I say here’s a guy with a $5000 suit, a $300 haircut, and now his boss wants to sleep with him. I’m not saying that was the right thing. I’m just saying don’t judge. (Laughter)
Eric Mabius: It’s a lot like in life, when you adjust to whatever the new normal is because you don’t have a lot of choices, or better choices.
Parker Posey: What was the question? I was thinking about something else while you guys were talking.
Josh Pais: The question is what do you think of my work?
Parker Posey: I think that Josh Pais is the most highly underrated actor in New York City. Oh the question was about ambition? I’m like Victor, I don’t want to judge. For me it’s kind of a portrait of a really dark lady. She’s ambitious and she’s shallow. I don’t know, I’m talking about myself. Cheyenne, what do you think about the entire movie?
Cheyenne Jackson: I think it’s about happiness. What is your happiness? That’s deep.
Parker Posey: Everyone is different. You cannot measure someone’s experience on the other side. It can change day to day. That’s why judging people is useless. Because we’re all evolving.
Michael Walker: If my 20 year old self would definitely have a different opinion than my 40 year old self.
From Party Girl to Price Check, Parker, how many Sundance films have you been in, and how do you choose such good films?
Parker Posey: I’ve been in 500 Sundance movies. Since 1915 I’ve been coming to the Festival. I remember the prairie lands, the cows and the horses and donkeys. The chickens. And there’s a castle that I live in, it’s made of air. It’s a beautiful place. I have a Roman chair, there, in the air castle where I live with my donkey. You know. Is that what you wanted? (Laughter)