At this moment, Sasha Grey is easily one of the most interesting actresses in the world, hands down. For those who aren’t already familiar, Grey started her career in the pornographic film industry before segueing into the more, um, traditional film industry. But that’s not what makes her one of the more unique on and off-screen personalities; she’s a novelist (albeit of erotic fiction) and DJ, is extremely well-versed on political issues, and is sweet—but not too sweet to be pushed over.
This month, Grey stars in the new Nacho Vigalondo film Open Windows opposite Elijah Wood as actress Jill Goddard. The film, available On Demand today, the dark side of technology and fame and pushes the current privacy debate to the edge.
So, clearly, you understand the one-way nature of the lens, and how erotic it can be to watch someone. Do you think there is something inherently sexy about web cams?
Web cams have always sort of irked me the wrong way. There’s something a little bit more seedy and perverted about web cams. And actually, when we were shooting the film, most of our scenes as actors were shot alone, and so, if you’re Skyping with somebody or you’re on FaceTime, or whatever medium you use to chat with somebody, you’re not usually looking directly in the lens. Your eyes are sort of all over the place, and you’re distracted doing something else as well. And that was a little bit unnatural at first, but of course its a film so, to look natural, we had to look into the camera, which feels unnatural, but it looked great.
Do you remember the first time you used a webcam?
I do not. I never had the external one that plugged into your computer, so it probably wasn’t until, like 7 years ago, when I got my first laptop. And even then, that was just with friends. And even with Skype, I kind of tried to stay away from that for a long time, and I mean, I still do. I don’t really like it as a format, personally. It feels too impersonal, but yeah, probably not until 7 years ago, probably.
The film kind delves into the kind of dark side to fame and how sometimes fans can cross the line into this horribly dangerous form of obsession. What’s the craziest thing a fan has ever done to you, and did you think that it was scary or sweet?
One that comes to the top of my head is that somebody mailed me a machete. And I thought that was really strange and scary but at the same time, I thought, like, I don’t think this person is capable of doing something, but at the same time, he sent somebody a machete. So that was pretty bizarre, and it was like they would mail me something once or twice a week for a short period of time, and that was very strange and off-putting. And I never had any encounters with that person; it was in another state. So yeah, that was definitely strange.
This film seems to particularly timely, given the recent photo hacking scandal where celebrities and their private lives violated. Do you think that celebrity necessarily means a certain loss of privacy, or is there something more sinister going on with that idea that the paparazzi and media are invading celeb personal space?
I don’t think it’s just a target for celebrities. I think it’s easier to create a scandal on something like this, and it is a scandal—it’s a violation of everybody’s privacy. But this is something that happens to regular people as well. And my hope in all of this is that some sort new law will be implemented because the internet really is like a Wild West. The upside of all of this is that celebrities have more reach, access, and power to create change, and hopefully this will bring more awareness and new laws will be implemented to protect everybody, should something like this happen because it’s impossible to prevent.
Do you think that the media feels like it can kind of “help itself” to the bodies and private live of famous women?
Yeah, I think that there’s a certain type of person that believes in this sort of ownership. There’s this idea and justification that because you are a celebrity or because you are in the public eye, we therefore have the right to know everything about you because that’s the job you chose. And I’ve heard that time and time again; I’ve read that time and time again. And I don’t think that’s right. I think everybody’s entitled to their privacy. But how will that change, and how will that develop through time? I don’t know, because the sad stories—the negative stories—are always the stories that sell. And so we’re sort of a society that feeds on that negativity, so we can see the people we put on pedestals sort of crumble and fall in a weird, warped way, and make ourselves feel better.
Has this movie changed the way that you think about celebrity reporting?
Not necessarily. I think I’ve always sort of felt the same way. It was a little frightening to shoot sometimes, because it was so real, and it was so scary. But the funny thing is that, when you’re introduced to [Elijah Wood’s character] Nick Chambers—the young man who’s obsessed with [my character] Jill Goddard, he does seem a little strange and a little off-putting, but in the end you realize, yeah he might spend a little too much time caring about this one individual or this one person, but at the same time, he’s not out to hurt anybody or disrespect anybody.
And what was it that drew you to the role in the first place?
I actually was a fan, and am a fan, of Nacho’s films and I heard he was working on the new movie, and so I asked my manager at the time; I was like, “Hey, well, if he’s working on this script, can I get a copy of it, can I read it?” And he sent me a copy and I read it, I loved it. I thought it was a very relevant film, I thought it was very real, and I also thought the techology that was being used was very cool, and fun, and different. And I got to work with Nacho, so that was the upside.
At the end of film, Jill and Nick are left in an underground bunker. Where would you imagine them going?
I just sort of felt Jill would stay there until she decided what she wanted to do next. And it was very clear that she wanted to escape and use this fake death as a means to start a new life and start fresh. But I don’t think she really knew at that time what that was. She’s able to now do what she had been wanting to do for sometime, and that is take control of her life and be self-empowered. And for Nick, he had a little bit more anonymity, so it’s a bit easier for him to pack up and go. But definitely, not together. Not somewhere together. And I think that’s something that we all really loved and admired in the script is that it didn’t end on a boy-saves-girl moment and they live happily ever after. And I think that was a really strong point in the script that they both have a newfound sense of empowerment and go on and live their lives as individuals.