All About Malin Akerman
INTERVIEW BY BEN LYONS
A STRONG WORK ethic and a genuinely humble demeanor have helped Swedish-born Malin Akerman’s star steadily rise over the last few years. Her three studio films in 2009—Watchmen, The Proposal and Couples Retreat— each grossed more than $100 million in the US, solidifying her celebrity. And this year two Sundance indies, Happythankyoumoreplease and The Romantics—both out nationally this month—have made her a hot name on the film-festival scene. There’s no question Akerman’s career is skyrocketing, taking her from beloved girl next door to superstar. I was lucky enough to catch the actress on a rare day in LA, where we sat down at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles to talk about her new roles, life in LA and her stint as lead singer in a band (seriously).
BEN LYONS: You realize that you work a tremendous amount, don’t you?
MALIN AKERMAN: I know, it’s been crazy! After Couples Retreat it’s been all indie films, and I’m having a blast with it. You can fit a lot more in that way. People are like, “Oh my god, you did four movies last year!” Yeah, but I worked about five weeks on each.
BL: I very much enjoyed Happythankyoumoreplease. It won the Audience Award at Sundance; what other festivals have you attended with it?
MA: We had a great time when it played at the Gen Art Film Festival in New York and at the Maui Film Festival in Hawaii. We got lucky because this movie has been really well received everywhere we go, winning audience awards and everything. This has been my first year promoting independent films, and I’ve fallen in love with festivals.
BL: The movie was directed by actor Josh Radnor. Has working with a director/actor inspired you to think about directing at all?
MA: Me? Ha! No, no—not quite there yet. I’ve started writing my own script, but directing will have to wait. I saw how frazzled [Radnor] was. He didn’t just direct it, he also starred in it, wrote it and produced it. That’s kind of crazy! He’s amazing—like an encyclopedia of information. You can ask him anything, and he’s got the answer.
BL: The Romantics has a big ensemble cast and feels like The Big Chill in many ways. Did you get a chance to rehearse before going into production?
MA: No, not at all! That’s the thing with these indie films—you don’t have the luxuries you have on a studio project. Luckily Josh [Duhamel], Katie [Holmes] and the other members of the cast were really cool, and we just jumped right in. It came together fast, and next thing we know we’re at Sundance, so I guess it all worked out.
BL: In all our interviews over the years I’ve never asked you about when you first moved to LA. What was your life here like before all these big movies?
MA: I came to LA from Canada with my best friend, and obviously if I hadn’t had her it would have been a lot more difficult. We had a blast. The first year was a party. The acting didn’t go so well, but it didn’t matter because we were having too much fun. We would audition four times a day during pilot season, and I didn’t book anything that first year. Not a single thing! My plan B was to go back to Toronto to finish my schooling. I had started at York University to become a child psychologist. My dad was very happy about that, and then I told him I wanted to be an actor, and he had a heart attack. But after that first year, I met people in a band and did music for a year and a half. That didn’t work out because I’m a horrific singer. So I gave it one more shot as an actor, and three weeks in I got a callback for The Comeback on HBO and got the part, and that was the start of it.
BL: Where did your band perform in LA?
MA: We played the LA circuit—The Viper Room, House of Blues, The Roxy.
BL: What bands do you go see these days now that you’re not on stage rocking out?
MA: One of my favorite bands is an indie band that has gotten bigger— Fair to Midland. It’s hard rock, but it’s very melodic. There are so many indie bands I’ve seen over the last seven years out here that really capture that cool melody and rock sound I like.
BL: If you could talk to that version of yourself who first came here and was figuring out the Hollywood and indie-rock scenes in LA, what would you say to her?
MA: Focus. There are so many distractions. You have a journey, and you have to follow it. I had my journey. But I don’t think I’d want my advice because I wouldn’t be where I am lucky enough to be today without all the craziness and disappointments.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY HAMA SANDERS
STYLING FOR MALIN BY JOLEEN GARNETT FOR ARTMIX BEAUTY
HAIR FOR MALIN BY DAVY NEWKIRK AT TRACEY MATTINGLY
MAKEUP FOR MALIN BY STEPHANIE DANIEL
ON MALIN: CHRISTIAN COTA DRESS; JEWELRY AVAILABLE AT BROKEN ENGLISH
SHOT ON LOCATION AT THE FOUR SEASONS HOTEL LOS ANGELES