While White Noise is set in the 1980s, its story of a society that doesn’t know how to deal with an impending ecological disaster that threatens their lives is a dark reflection of our own times, and that, says star Greta Gerwig, is exactly what drew her to the film.
“It was hilarious, it’s dark, it’s crazy. It feels like it understands how we can’t cope with anything,” she said during a panel for the Netflix movie at Deadline’s Contenders Film: Los Angeles awards-season event.
“And I felt like, obviously it’s Don DeLillo’s genius, but it was something that both of us [her and writer-director Noah Baumbach] felt connected to and to the kind of writing that Noah does.”
Film composer Danny Elfman echoed a similar sentiment when he spoke about how Baumbach convinced him to create the film’s score.
“Noah described it as hilarious, dark and crazy and it’s like, ‘OK, that’s getting into the realm of what I love.’ And then he said ‘It’s really for you Danny. It’s about death and the fear of death. That’s right up your alley.’ And I said ‘I’m in!’ ”
Adapted from DeLillo’s 1985 novel, the film also represents Gerwig’s first live acting role since 2016, and she spoke about what attracted her to playing the film’s troubled matriarch, Babette.
“She’s that wonderful ’80s mom who’s slightly dizzy but you feel comfortable every time she’s around. And then in this book, it’s like, what’s going on with that mom? And you’re like, oh, no, she’s sleeping with a scary man for pills to help her fear of death … and I think that kind of layer of like the trope of what you know, and then who this person actually is, is what was so exciting to me about it.”
White Noise is the fourth collaboration between life partners Gerwig and Baumbach, and while they’ve previously been known for making smaller-scale dramatic films, Gerwig says they both enjoyed the significantly larger budget and scale of the disaster film.
“I remember the day that I was like ‘Oh, I can see why this is wonderful’ is when we were at the barracks for this evacuation for the Boy Scout camp and I looked over and there was an entire wedding party … as if they had evacuated a bride and all her bridesmaids and groomsmen and I was like, ‘This is what giant movies like this can do,’ ” she said. “And this gives you this access to this world and it was something and it was exciting to see Noah execute.”
Check back Monday for the panel video.