The subject of love has inspired many feature films, books, shows and short stories. A couple meet, fall in love, go through a honeymoon period, a climactic fall-out and then get back together to live happily ever after. That recipe has been the basis for many romantic comedies and probably will be for some time, but it’s not exactly true, is it? When in real life has anyone had a relationship that is cut and dry or has a moment where everything falls apart once just to magically come back together with all problems now being solved?
In Argyris Papadimitropoulos’ latest film, ‘Monday,’ the Greek director took the normal rom-com formula and made it his own “rom-com gone wrong.” Starring Sebastian Stan and Denise Gough as two thirty-something Americans living in Athens, Mickey (Stan) and Chloe (Gough) meet one night at a friends party. From a drunken one-night-stand, their relationship grows, but with more normal woes that the typical Hollywood tropes. They fight about working from home together. They fight about the dishwasher being broken. They fight over ordering food for a party they throw. They fight like a real couple, and the baggage they both bring to their relationship takes the form of one that is candid.
Gough herself was drawn to the film because of its honest nature, and the Irish actress delved into more on what went into making the unapologetically messy and rambunctious look into love that is ‘Monday.’
What was it about this role or this film that interested you to want to sign on?
I think that we have been conditioned to watch films about love and films about couples in a certain way. There’s a brilliant documentary, I can’t remember the name of it, but it’s on why romantic comedies are problematic. Somebody has gone through all the romantic comedies we’ve grown up on and gone, ‘This is actually a really dangerous way to portray love.’ This film, what I love about it is it’s really messy, and it shows a relationship that starts more so from the endpoint. You start by having really full-on sex with each other and then you try to get back to getting to know each other, so it’s sort of the opposite way round. I was really interested in exploring a film that kind of deals with that.
Also, I love that this woman was older than the romantic lead. She’s a woman who has a complicated past and her relationship choices are a little shady. I think women so often think the answer is in getting the guy, because that’s what we’ve been told in romantic comedies. We’re told, if you get the guy, it’s all going to be amazing or if you get the person, it will all be amazing… [but] having that relationship with yourself is so much more important, it’s just not going to make for an interesting film, is it?
I like the fact that we’re seeing this woman make quite reckless choices with a guy who’s got a good heart. He’s not a bad guy, it’s just… the great thing you do after you break up with somebody, especially when it’s been intense, is you take time out to process this stuff because otherwise you just bring it straight into your next relationship. And so essentially, that’s what she’s doing and that’s what he’s doing. They’re both entering into this partnership together with all of their previous partnerships instead of having done any work. So she falls in love with his potential rather than what he actually is showing up for, and I think we do that a lot.
What are you hoping people take away from Chloe and her whirlwind romantic journey with Mickey specifically?
I hope that they see how she really goes for it, which is great that she does that. It’s hard though because I love Chloe so much, but at the same time, I do want her to take better care of herself and maybe spend some time on her own.
Maybe the message is open to interpretation?
Oh, that’s good. That’s now my new answer, because it is, it absolutely is. It’s actually none of my business what you take away from it, because everyone’s going to take something different. It’s one of those great things where you can have a conversation afterwards where somebody will say, I think they should be together, and somebody else is like, no, they shouldn’t. Both answers could be right.
What did you and Sebastian do to prepare?
We lived in Greece for a few weeks before the job started. Argyris was really intent that we spend a lot of time together, so we went on a road trip within two days of meeting with Argyris and his family and loads of great people met us, and we lived together. What I think Auguries did really cleverly was he just put us together. By the end, we were like I guess brother and sister in a weird way, but it was a partnership properly because we lived like that…We lived together, we ate together, we walked together, we swam together, we danced together.
So it was always sort of being gently held by our director, and I guess he was sort of doing that weird director thing of like manipulating you without knowing it. There are some directors who [do that and] have their own agenda for that and they get actors to do things where I think that’s just not nice. But it never felt like that, Argyris [has] given me a friend and a person that I went through something major with forever. He’s given me a new country that I can live in, he’s given me a language that I’m learning—he’s given me so much by letting me do this film. I think both Sebastian and I felt like, OK, we’re carrying each: I’m carrying Chloe and you’re carrying Mickey and then we’re both going to carry the relationship and we’re going to do it with everything.
So, if this isn’t a Rom-Com, how would you describe ‘Monday’?
I’d say it’s like a study of a real-life relationship because in a way it sort of was. It’s all improvised and all kind of generated from what we did at that time. We really threw ourselves into it. Sebastian and I, and wholeheartedly full of joy and light and aimed for the authenticity as much as we possibly, possibly could. So it’s very real.
‘Monday’ opens in select theaters, on digital platforms and VOD April 16.