Writer director Lynn Shelton received an Official Selection at this year’s Sundance for her indie, “Touchy Feely.” The film is about Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt), a massage therapist who becomes phobic about touching skin—which is rather awkward considering her profession. What’s really going on for her emotionally is a kind of OCD panic attack around fear of commitment after her boyfriend (Scoot McNairy) asks her to take the next step in their relationship and move in together.
During this time Abby’s brother Paul (Josh Pais), a wound-too-tight dentist with an empty waiting room, suddenly is in great demand. The irony is that the previously happy and stable Abby cannot touch her clients, while Paul now has the magic touch.
Ellen Page is great as always, playing Paul’s emotionally crippled and codependent daughter, Jenny. The award-winning and versatile Allison Janney plays Bronwyn, the healer who loosens Paul up. DeWitt’s real-life hubby Ron Livingston plays the character named Adrian. Newcomer Tomo Nakayama of the indie rock band Grand Hallway, has a small yet memorable part as Jenny’s friend.
Examiner Dorri Olds sat down with Lynn Shelton and Josh Pais at Manhattan’s Magnolia Pictures office for an interview. Check out this list (click on photo above) and see what these stars had to say.
“Touchy Feely” is available On Demand and on iTunes and opens in select theaters in New York City this Friday, September 6, 2013. Rated R. 90 minutes.
Paul (Josh Pais) and Bronwyn (Allison Janney) in ‘Touchy Feely’
When asked her reaction to finding out ‘Touchy Feely’ made it into Sundance, Lynn Shelton said, “I screamed and skipped around the house. Sundance was where I was praying it would be accepted, and then it happened! I’d been at Sundance before, but you just never know. They get so many submissions. I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high. When I found out, it was just as exciting as the first time I got in. I was able to stay for the entire festival, the whole 10 days, and it was a very strong festival this year.”
Indie filmmaker Lynne Shelton was thrilled when her film ‘Touchy Feely’ received Official Selection at Sundance
When asked if she knew anyone who suffered with her lead character’s aversion to skin she said, “No, it just occurred to me after having received so many massages over the years. I started thinking about how odd it must be to touch a string of naked strangers. That’s so freaky and weird. That idea bounced around in my head for awhile and led me to a more universal question: If your occupation informs your sense of identity and self-worth, then what kind of hole does that put you in when it’s taken away, and how do you dig your way out?”
Jenny (Ellen Page) and Jesse (Scoot McNairy) in ‘Touchy Feely’
Lynn Shelton commented on improvisation, “My quest is to create characters who feel like real flesh and blood on screen. Sometimes that works if you’ve got the right dialog and actors that can make it sound as if it’s coming out of their mouths. But it’s nice to play off of the script too, like if an actor says, “That line doesn’t feel at home in my mouth. I want to say it differently.” Or if they want to change the trajectory and loosen things up and say the lines out of order, all of that really helps to keep the film dynamic, fresh and naturalistic.”
When asked what it was like working with the cast of ‘Touchy Feely’ Josh Pais said, “Outstanding. Everyone feels a sense of ownership in creating a Lynn Shelton movie. Lynn chooses amazing people — including the crew. Every person there is committed to making the film the best it can be. Ellen and Rosemarie and Scoot [McNairy] and Allison — everybody was just delicious.”
Paul (Josh Pais) and Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt) in Touchy Feely
Josh Pais was asked how he crafted his emotionally flawed character Paul in the indie film. He said, “I played with creating somebody that was shut down and inside of himself, thinking that if he holds on tightly that will give him some kind of comfort but instead it creates nothing but discomfort.”
Funny face Josh Pais made when talking about Time Warner Cable dropping ‘Showtime’
Olds asked Pais if there was a sad mood among the cast of ‘Ray Donovan’ when Time Warner Cable dropped ‘Showtime.’ Here’s the adorable face he made after saying, “I know I’m switching to Verizon. They still have CBS and Showtime.” Then Pais said, “We were like, ‘WHAT?!’ Throughout the country ‘Ray Donovan’ is a big hit and people are loving the show but now, because of Time Warner, not everyone gets it on cable. Society is at a crossroads with media and the Internet. It will be interesting to see how this gets resolved.”
Character actor Josh Pais was very expressive during our interview in New York City
When asked to speak about his character Stu Feldman in ‘Ray Donovan’ Josh Pais said, “Stu is the polar opposite of Paul. Stu runs Paramount Pictures and he’s a guy who has all the toys, all the money, all the power, but none of it has ever built up his self-esteem. He’s childish and manipulative and feels more alive when he’s dominating everyone around him. He’s yearning for acknowledgment but he is empty inside.”