[Intro: Scenes from Memento]
Doyle: Hello everyone, this is Doyle joining us today for a new episode of “Thinking Outside the Long Box.” We’re here with Jorja Fox and to talk about some of her upcoming projects and, specifically, an old movie, Memento, which we just watched on our pop culture classics. How are you doing today, Jorja?
Jorja Fox: Hey Doyle, thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Doyle: Oh yeah, definitely, we are super excited to have you. Just going back, obvious as a little familiar with some of your past work, because … You’ve been on, like, every major TV show drama from like 2000 to 2015.
Jorja: Thank you.
Doyle: How did you pick those?
Jorja: I had a nice run, I had a little three-fer.
Doyle: ER, West Wing, CSI. Those are some pretty big titles. Just a quick curiosity, it’s outside of our topic, but how did you come across blockbuster role after blockbuster role?
Jorja: I’d love to take a lot of intellectual credit for that, but it was sort of a happy/lucky accident. All of these women they’d write – first of all they all carry guns, which is kind of weird and consistent. They’re all brainiacs. Really smart, independent women that were, at least with Sara Sidle at the time, the tiniest bit outside the box with what people thought women were doing, occupationally. It was just really exciting to get to show up and try and bring those three people to life.
Doyle: Definitely. Even today we struggle with powerful women in different roles. But definitely those were three very specific casting that kind of pushed that forward, I think.
Jorja: Yeah, and I feel that right now, it’s such an exciting time. There’s so many great roles for women. And even so many great roles for women that, you know, 20 years ago people would say “Hey, you’re a little long in the tooth. Maybe you’re not right for this role.” It’s just breaking out. It’s been a really run, exciting time to be an actress.
Doyle: I’m glad to hear it. As you know, we watched Memento just here recently, for our pop culture classic that we do on every episode. And we reached out and wanted to talk to you about your experience with the role. I know you kind of have a – it’s like a background role in the movie, but it’s also a pivotal driving role in the film too, so it’s very interesting.
Jorja: I just slid into that movie. I snuck in there. Again, I was so honored to get to be a part of it. But it was also just like a fluke. I can’t even believe it happened. And you’re right, I have a lot of people who say to me “You had a big role in that movie!” and I’m like “No, I didn’t.” I did not, but the thing is, Leonard’s talking about his wife for a lot of the movie, so the role feels bigger than it actually was.
Doyle: No, definitely. Your character’s death is the driving force of the movie. Even though you’re only seen in this backwards view of his history, of his past.
Jorja: And it’s very convoluted, what did happen with the assault and stuff. When I got the – I was so excited to get the part. I recognized that the script was brilliant and, quite honestly, I had read it three times and I still wasn’t sure that I had understood it.
Doyle: I’ve watched it three times and I wasn’t sure exactly. But you do kind of–
Jorja: Right? I was, thank god when I knew that you guys were going to talk to me, I was just “Let me go online and see what people think of it lately.” I learned more about what I think happened in the movie by reading online, in the last two days, than I understood by myself. I remember asking Guy Pearce pretty quickly, I had met him and we were kind of going over our scene, and I quietly whispered “Do you understand this movie? Do you know what’s going on?” And he was like, “I think so.” He had three scripts that he was working off of. One was the movie the way we see it, one was the movie completely backwards, and the third one was the movie in chronological order. And between those three scripts, most of the time, he was like “I think I know what’s happening now.” But Chris Nolan always did. I realized for myself, it doesn’t really matter if I understand this, because the part I have to play, what was going on with my character and the plot points that I had to do, actually happened before this traumatic injury that Leonard had. I just kind of stopped worrying about whether I understood it or not.
Doyle: I can definitely see that being a rollercoaster of an experience. Everything I read about it, sounded like the movie shot really quickly. That everybody was in and out. It’s amazing that Christopher Nolan had all that wrapped up in his brain ready to go. We even cracked on the show, that we wondered if they made the movie in chronological order and decided to cut it up and rearrange it later. It’s so masterfully put together at the end.
Jorja: I agree. And the fact that they pitched the story with all of that in mind. Like you could take a movie and recut it and make it super interesting, but the fact that he and his brother, Jonathan, had that vision from the very beginning and actually wrote the script like that, and then pitched like that, and people understood it enough to say “Hey we want to be a part of that.” is kind of unique. It was a rally fast shoot, and I remember after we did the film, I didn’t hear anything for a while. It was almost a year and a half, or two years, and I thought “Ah, it’s too bad, I guess nothing’s going to happen with this movie.” Which happens a lot with independent films. You kind of roll the dice, you have no idea if anybody’s every going to see it or not. And I was like oh well, that’s too bad, because I thought that movie was going to be a good one. Then it just kind of, all the sudden and there it was. It started playing and people responded. It was so excited. Because this is all a project too that, you start to believe, can fans lift the project up? I think we can get a little jaded now, it’s like if you don’t have a PR machine, if you don’t have a good advertising vehicle, it’s going to be impossible to get the word out. Memento was sort of the classic example of a movie that, word of mouth and people just hearing about it actually made tons and tons and tons of people see it. Which is cool. It was a movement. A fan movement.
Doyle: For sure. I definitely had four different friend groups take it to me. I remember the movie started rolling around groups that I hang out with. It became very popular, very quickly, amongst me and most of my friends.
Jorja: That’s awesome. I think, too, we didn’t realize people would see it a second, third, or fourth time. I don’t think they actually – I don’t think Nolan knew how much that would happen, something he had tapped into. I think he originally thought that people would understand the ending of the film a little bit clearer. That it would be less muddled than it ended up being. That was another happy accident.
Doyle: I do know you have some limited time with us, and I did want to talk to you about some of your more recent projects. I just recently got done watching Roll With Me on Netflix.
Jorja: Oh my gosh! Thank you so much! I really appreciate that.
Doyle: It’s very powerful, by the way. When it was first getting going, I was like “I don’t know where this is going exactly.” But that story is very touching, actually. How did you come across that?
Jorja: I couldn’t agree more. I’m so thrilled for them. When you see the movie, you also find out what a miracle it is that there is a movie about it. The movie is doing really well. Gabe Cordell, who would be the protagonist, it’s a documentary about his story, he’s done four more rolls. He just summited Pike’s Peak in Colorado, a couple months ago. It’s just incredible to me that … I was just “You did what?” This summer, he’s going to train for Death Valley.
Doyle: I was just going to say, Pike’s Peak is pretty freaky on foot, by the way. Let alone doing it in a wheelchair.
Jorja: I know! And an unmodified wheelchair. It’s all chest and arms and upper body. And really, sheer, crazed, will on his part. I was so thrilled that he did it. This just happened, he was just in Colorado just a month ago. So thank you for taking the time to see it. It was a really really fun movie. We’re so excited that it is on Netflix. It’s actually going to be in Colorado – the distribution website, which is ARRAY, has screenings that are going to be held across the country over the next four months. I know that we’re coming to movie theaters in Colorado, I think in December and January. Probably only a couple of screenings, but we’re excited to share the movie with people.
Doyle: We’ll prop it up the best we can here in Colorado.
Jorja: Thanks so much!
Doyle: One other thing I wanted to touch base with you on was your new, is it an upcoming movie, 3022 with Omar Epps?
Jorja: We just finished shooting that. It’s Kate Walsh and Omar Epps and a whole bunch of other really fun people. It’s kind of a typical science fiction/horror/love story movie. Who doesn’t love those?
Doyle: Sounds up my alley.
Jorja: I just finished filming it. John Suits is the director. It’s very character driven and very suspenseful and I’m really excited about it. They’re editing it right now. We might all start to hear about it in six or eight months or so.
Doyle: Obviously you’re very busy, but if you have time when that movie comes up, we’d love to hear from you again.
Jorja: Oh thanks. I’d love to come back. You guys are great.
Doyle: Real quick, just to give you the time to touch base, looks like I was finding out you had a lot to do with ADI as well as your production company, Seafox. I just wanted to give you some time to touch base on those, if you wanted to.
Jorja: Thank you so much. Seafox is this little documentary company that I started about seven or eight years ago. The focus so far as been documentaries and most of them have been either environmental or animal welfare docs. Roll With Me is the most recent, and in some ways it seems like it wouldn’t been in the wheelhouse. But, and since you guys saw the movie, Gabe spent so much time outside in the elements, I felt like America’s natural world was another character.
Doyle: For sure.
Jorja: And also a character that everybody seemed to draw some sort of strength from, some sort of inspiration. Also I was just, like how can I be a part of this? Most of the other movies, I’ve worked with ADI for many years, Animal Defenders International. They’re an international organization that, for the most part, takes animals out of circuses and out of zoos and affords them a retirement life sanctuary. Like big cats, elephants, great apes, stuff like that. They’re really amazing and they do a lot of legislation. They have a movie called Lion Ark that we did four or five year ago. Weirdly enough, for Lion Ark, it’s almost impossible to get in the States. Tim and Jan from ADI are originally from England, their world wide distribution deal was had in England. It’s really exciting that the movie got that, and it’s played almost everywhere in the world except the US. That’s still to come, and I think when it does play, I think people will find it – it’s funny, it tells you a lot about wildlife and conservation issues and habitats.
Jorja: Thank you. There’s been a few. Another is Extinction Soup which has a lot to do with shark finning, which is a global thing that’s happening right now and devastating the shark population around the world. The movies that I’ve been able to be a part of kind of take this small group of really motivated people that may not have a lot in common. They might be very different. They come together for something, and something amazing happens. Some of the movies, they touch on some stuff that’s hard to watch, or sad. I think at the end of the day, the movies are all fairly inspiring.
Doyle: You definitely felt that with Roll With Me. When they were first introducing all the characters, the guys involved with helping [Gabe] out, I was all “This is a rag tag group!” You would not expect them taking this across the country on a trip with this guy and an unmodified wheelchair.
Jorja: When you meet the characters, I think you have less confidence in this guy’s going to get anywhere than you do when the movie started.
Doyle: That’s exactly how I felt! I was just “Is this gonna end well?” But then it all turns into a very powerful story. The guy’s amazing.
Jorja: I love that idea, that you don’t have to be a billionaire, you don’t have to be a CEO or a celebrity to do something. That we can all do whatever we want. We can do a lot, no matter who we are, and what if we believe in ourselves and set our minds to it. It’s such a simple message but it gets me every time. I love the idea that people, we should all feel powerful. We are powerful. So those stories are always stories that I’m really honored to be a part of.
Doyle: It looked like a lot of fun, at the end of the day.
Jorja: And have fun, yes! Which is the other target. Thank you so much.
Doyle: I know they said you didn’t have a ton of time, but I wanted to thank you for spending what time you did have with us. It’s awesome.
Jorja: I’d love to hear your podcast, once it’s all together. Can I ask you real quick… How many times have each of you seen Memento?
Doyle: How many times have I seen Memento? Oh it’s at least ten times. I’m not sure about the other guys. I know Juan, he’s only seen it the one time. He was kind of a new to Nolan kind of guy.
Jorja: No kidding?
Doyle: He’s a younger guy, just come to Memento. Gabe I’m sure is up there in the ten or more times as well. Gabe’s the guy who introduced me to the movie, back in the day. Took the movie to my friend Lane and my friend Ben and my friend Bobby. We were all very “What’s going on in this movie?” I remember, we watched that movie for three months straight with different groups. But it’s been at least ten, twelve times.
Jorja: Oh my gosh, thank you. I was going to say, since you just rewatched it, did it hold up?
Doyle: It holds up amazingly. Obviously there’s some … filming has changed a little bit. Movies are shot a little different. Plot wise, it still holds on to you a lot. We all loved the movie after rewatching it again. Well, Juan watching it for the first time. Definitely holds up after – How old is that movie again?
Jorja: It’s almost twenty. Twenty years, really, since we shot it. It came out in like 2000. Well great! Thank you!
Doyle: It’s older than you think. It doesn’t feel like a twenty year old movie, honestly. We’ve watched some other twenty year old movies where we’re like “What’s going on?”
Jorja: Yeah, I could maybe agree with that.
Doyle: This movie definitely holds up. Well, Jorja, thank you so much for spending some time with us.
Jorja: You have a good one!
Doyle: You too.