KORVA COLEMAN, HOST:
Carol Beasley is at the center of a new movie "Outside In." She's a middle-aged high school teacher trapped in her mundane job and marriage in Washington state. And that all changes when her former student, Chris, who is played by Jay Duplass, returns to their small town after serving 20 years in prison.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "OUTSIDE IN")
BEN SCHWARTZ: (As Ted) You are a free man in America. Look at this, his first beer in 20 years.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: (As character) OK, everybody. Chris's high school teacher's here. If it wasn't for you, Chris would still be in jail.
EDIE FALCO: (As Carol) Holy moly.
JAY DUPLASS: (As Chris, laughter).
FALCO: (As Carol) You're real.
COLEMAN: While Carol is thrilled to welcome him home, Chris has no idea how to transition back into society. Carol doesn't know how to help him, either. Their relationship begins to seep into different facets of her life, causing a rift between Carol and her family. Carol is played by actress Edie Falco, who joins me now. Welcome, Edie.
FALCO: Thank you. Happy to be here.
COLEMAN: You know, Edie, I had a very visceral reaction when I was watching the film, particularly when I was watching Carol. She doesn't seem to have a voice or an answer to anything. She certainly feels very passionately about things, but she can't seem to say what she wants. Why is that?
FALCO: I don't know. My - you know, I'm not great at verbalizing these things, sometimes. But my imagination - as I stand back a little bit, I am thinking she's a woman who probably never - was never asked. You know what I mean? Like, she just does what's - what the next expected thing is, you know?
You get - you know, you get married. You have a kid or kids, and you get a job. And that's the way it goes. And the idea that she may actually want something - I don't know. I think that's a talent unto itself, learning how to recognize that. And I don't think it's something she's ever worked on.
COLEMAN: Her failure to speak for herself leads to some situations in the film that I actually found really uncomfortable to watch. I'm a middle-aged...
FALCO: That's nice (laughter).
COLEMAN: It was really tough. It was...
FALCO: Then I've done my job.
COLEMAN: No, indeed you have. I'm a middle-aged woman. I'm watching the story of a middle-aged woman. And it felt like parts of it were a train wreck. I felt like there was a bad situation coming, and there was no way to warn Carol. Why could she not see it?
FALCO: I don't know. I think if you do start to recognize that you have feelings about things and that you do have desires and - you know, and it gets a hold of you, I don't think you learn how to moderate. You know what I mean? I think the feelings may be so overwhelming. And which ones to act on? Should this be something she sort of ignores and moves through? So anyway, once she's in it, I feel like she's no longer in the driver's seat as far as how far she wants to take these things or what actually she's doing.
COLEMAN: I have to say your portrayal of this character was remarkable. Your restraint in playing her was remarkable. How do you portray that? It was like I literally wanted to reach through and say, Carol, please stop.
FALCO: I don't know, you know? I don't know. I - certainly, I got on the set. I loved the way reading it made me feel. So I decided to do it. I had already met Jay Duplass and couldn't wait to work with him. And once we got there on the set in that town, in that home, you know, it just - it starts to have a life of its own. And I just kind of follow it.
COLEMAN: Edie, what type of research did you do to prepare for this role? Did you read about ex-convicts transitioning back into society or talk with people who assisted them?
FALCO: I no longer am as embarrassed as I used to be to say that I did no research at all. I don't know what - I don't know how to do research. I don't - I mean, if I do it, I do it on some subliminal level, you know...
COLEMAN: How do you find the depths of this character? Your portrayal of this woman was so arresting.
FALCO: At our cores, all of us people are really very similar, I'm finding after all is said and done - and especially with the state of the country and the world right now. When you move all that dust aside, you find out we're - we have so much of the same stuff going on at our centers, you know? And that's - what I think the work of an actor is is to sort of - once you've tapped into that, the rest of it is just sort of window dressing, you know?
COLEMAN: Actress Edie Falco, star of the film "Outside In." Thank you so much for joining us.
FALCO: It was an absolute pleasure. Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF ANDREW BIRD'S "DANCE OF DEATH")
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