Friday, September 21, 2012

A Little Banter with Josh Radnor…

Ok ladies, for something a little different, a little special…  I’m temporarily halting the beauty products talk (for the most part) to give you my interview with Josh Radnor, star of the hit show “How I Met Your Mother” and most importantly the star, writer, and director of “Liberal Arts,” opening across the country this weekend.   I know I have a bias, but seriously, both my husband and I made spectacles of ourselves laughing in the theater, and I couldn’t stop quoting Allison Janney’s character. (Go see the movie and you’ll understand why I love her so.)  

Josh and I have known each other since we were curly-headed little kids playing in our parents’ friends’ pool on summer Sundays.  Josh is one of those lifelong friends (so is Jesse Hara, who you will read about below) who no matter how much time passes and how famous one of us becomes (the success of Beauty Binge is no doubt very intimidating to Josh) we have the same comfortable banter.


Beauty Binge: Everyone knows you from “How I Met Your Mother” but you’re releasing your second critically-acclaimed movie, “Liberal Arts” this week, which you wrote, directed, produced and starred in.  Tell us what it’s like to see your vision on screen?

Well, it’s incredibly exciting. I get a lot of credit for these movies but really, making movies is a team sport. I’ve surrounded myself with so many great, talented people who make the movie better than I ever could on my own. There is a real thrill to imagining a world when you’re typing by yourself and then having all these people come together to bring that world to life. I love the community aspect of making movies.
Beauty Binge: It’s so weird to have you use “sport” in a sentence.  I love that one of your “teammates” is our livelong friend Jesse Hara.  Did you name your title character in “Liberal Arts” after our Jesse? What’s it like working so closely with such a good friend?
It’s pretty much the best thing ever. Jesse is my closest collaborator, he’s the first person I show first drafts to, I trust his taste more than anyone else’s (including sometimes my own), and he keeps things from me that I don’t need to know. To take the sports thing further, I’ve described Jesse as my offensive line – he’s there to make sure I don’t get sacked. Plus, I just love being around him and this gives us a great excuse to hang out. We’ve had a few heated moments on each film and they always result in a good laugh. I can’t imagine having made these two films without Jesse.
Beauty Binge: I’m lucky enough to have already seen this movie, in fact I’m still quoting Allison Janney’s fierce character.  Tell my readers a little bit about the movie.
Josh: Jesse Fisher is a sad, uninspired admissions officer at a second-rate NYC college, his head perpetually buried in a book. He’s the type of guy who’s idealized his college experience out of all proportion and worries his best days may be behind him. Then he gets invited back to his alma mater in Ohio to speak at his favorite professor’s retirement dinner. While there, he meets and develops an attraction to a 19 year-old sophomore (played by Elizabeth Olsen) which throws him into a bit of a tailspin. The romance between Jesse and Zibby (Olsen’s character) is the focus of the movie, but it deals with a lot of other themes: aging, nostalgia, regret, time, growing up (or not growing up, as the case may be).
Beauty Binge: Now as someone who covers red carpet beauty, I can tell you your co-star Elizabeth Olsen is always a top contender for “best look”  at every event she attends.  Go ahead and make us all feel like shit about ourselves and tell us how stunning she is in person…
Josh: Ha! Well, I don’t want to make anyone feel bad about themselves… She is beautiful, there’s no doubt. But her beauty isn’t icy or forbidding, it’s incredibly welcoming (and so is she). Her face is also beautifully malleable on camera, depending on the emotion of the light. She can be Michelle Pfeiffer gorgeous and also kind of goofy-adorable – often in a single scene.
Beauty Binge: Whatever, Josh. Like who can’t go from Michelle Pfeiffer gorgeous to goofy-adorable in a single scene? Fine, I’m a brunette but whatever. Thanks for making me feel like shit about myself.
Josh: Calm down, Janna.
Beauty Binge: Now for the question all my lovely readers want me to ask — what is your definition of a beautiful woman?
Josh: Someone who doesn’t look to others to define or affirm her. Someone who can laugh at themselves. Someone who is physically graceful, intellectually agile, and emotionally intelligent.
Beauty Binge: You are so sweet, but you know I’m married right??  Wait, you said physically graceful. Not me.
Josh: But (and I may be misremembering this) weren’t you on the field hockey team in high school? Or was that just because you thought the uniforms were cute?
Beauty Binge: Yes, I was on the field hockey team and yes I played field hockey because I loved the short little plaid skirts.
Beauty Binge: Okay, and here’s the other question I know they want me to ask — is there a certain beautiful woman in your life right now?
Josh: Yes. (Glad there’s no follow-up!)
Beauty Binge: So…. I’m assuming your one-word answer means, “Yes, but and I’m not talking about her.” Fine, fine.  You live in LA where you’re surrounded by Botox, injected faces and plastic surgery — are you desensitized to all the artificial enhancements and accept them as standard or do you try and steer clear?
Josh: Hmm. I always think that stuff makes people look older, which is odd, as it’s the opposite of the point, right?
Beauty Binge: Oh yes!  It makes them look old and often alien-like.  The scariest thing is when you see a restaurant full of women that look exactly alike yet aren’t related.
Josh: It’s weird – and maybe I’m just not hanging out in the right places – but I see a lot less of that out here than you’d think.
Beauty Binge: What is the biggest beauty mistake you think women make? Too much eye shadow, lipstick, blown out hair, etc?
Josh: Probably thinking that people will notice. Guys at any rate. I know maybe that’s dispiriting, but I think it’s true that women are dressing up for other women more than they are for men. I really feel for women given that our society is so physically focused. Nothing’s more attractive than confidence. And spending too much time focusing on the external can be corrosive to one’s spirit. We all go through versions of this. I just think when the external overshadows the internal we can get in some trouble. I try to remember that people are responding much more to the quality of your presence than they are to the details of your appearance.
Beauty Binge: Right, so Josh…. You know this site is all about skincare and makeup right?  So you basically just told my entire audience to stop reading Beauty Binge. That’s cool. I get it. Seriously, I totally agree that nothing is more attractive than confidence but I have to say I feel a bit more confident fluttering my Bambi lashes and puckering my lip-stained lips. 
Josh: Well, it’s kind of chicken-egg, right? Do we feel good because we look good? Or do we look good because we feel good? I’ll let you and your readers hash that one out.
Beauty Binge: Last question… I have to ask — you have great frizz-free curls. You have to share with us what you’re using (keeping in mind I’ll kill you if you say ‘nothing’ since my hair looks like I stuck my finger in a socket if I don’t slather on product).
Josh: I find these types of questions to be totally embarrassing but since I’ve known you since we were kids I’ll answer (and I had to check because I didn’t know off the top of my head) It’s a product they gave me on the show that helps keep things from gettin’ crazy: Sebastian Craft Clay. 
Beauty Binge:  Thank you for indulging me!!  I have to see if it’ll work on my unruly curls.  Beauty products aside, I love you and I am beyond in love with your new movie “Liberal Arts.”  I intend to be reborn as Allison Janney’s character!
My lovelies, put down the clay mask and walk away from the blackhead remover!  You ladies are going out and seeing “Liberal Arts,” this weekend! And newsflash, it’s not a romantic comedy that your husband will hate.  My football-loving husband was laughing out loud when he saw it so bring the fellas!


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