Elisabeth Moss has played her fair share of women on the edge, but she’s taking it to a whole other level in “Shirley”, portraying writer Shirley Jackson.
Jackson, best known for the short story The Lottery and the horror novel The Haunting of Hill House, struggled with mental illness throughout her life, an aspect that “Shirley” leans into.
This marks the first time that Moss has played an actual historical figure, and in an interview with IndieWire she explained why she was adamant to get all the details right.
“The challenge for me for this one was [that] I’ve never played a real person who everybody knew,” she said in an interview with IndieWire. “The hair, the makeup, the costumes, the padding under the costumes, looking a little bit older. Usually I can just make it up and say, ‘That’s the character and everyone has to believe me. This one was interesting because I had to adhere more to facts, and to who she was.”
In the film, Moss’ Jackson engages in some pretty extreme behaviour, ranging from pushing raw eggs, one after another, off a table to she methodically emptying an entire bottle of red wine onto someone’s sofa.
“I don’t know where I came up with this s**t,” Moss said. “There was stuff that was factual, there was stuff that we discussed… and then there was just stuff that I made up. It just came out, and I felt like it was right. I followed that instinct with her physicality. There are photos, but there’s nothing really that says anything about her physicality.”
“Shirley” is available on VOD platforms on Friday, June 5.