Interview Magazine
Posted by Veronique on December 1st, 2023

Talia Ryder Is Here For the Letterboxd Hate
By Jeremy O. Harris
Photographed by Spyros Rennt
Styled by Billy Lobos

In The Sweet East, a ’90s-inspired coming-of-age flick directed by cinematographer Sean Price Williams, Talia Ryder plays Lillian, a precocious teen whose desire to escape the mundanity of her Southern upbringing catapults her into a bizarro journey across the Eastern Seaboard. Throughout the trip, Lillian explores the last vestiges of American counterculture, LARPing as a slacktivist punk, a trad-wife, and even a movie star. It’s the perfect fit for Ryder, who, at 21 years old, has propelled a childhood spent dancing into starring roles on Broadway, and now, an indie acting come-up. “You’re gearing up to be the princess of ultra-low-budget downtown New York City cinema,” Ryder’s costar and Interview consigliere Jeremy O. Harris tells her over Zoom, as she prepares for the next stop on her press tour. But that’s not enough for Ryder. “Fuck being a princess,” she says. “I’m trying to work my way up to king.”


TALIA RYDER: Hey! How are you?

HARRIS: I’m good. Wait, my hair looks horrible, but I’ll turn on my video if you do.

RYDER: Okay.

HARRIS: Is that official TikTok merch you’re wearing?

RYDER: No, I got it from a Ghent souvenir shop. They had all this bootleg Instagram and Snapchat merch.

HARRIS: The street style is really street styling right now. [Laughs] So tell me where you’ve been so far on The Sweet East world tour.

RYDER: We started in Belgium, and then went to Valladolid in Spain, and then I went to London for a day to shoot this, and then I Eurostar’d here. I’m in Amsterdam right now with Earl [Cave, her costar], and then we go to Leiden tomorrow.

HARRIS: How rude do you think it is that they didn’t bring me and Ayo [Edebiri] with you? On a scale of one to ten.

RYDER: Beyond rude. I don’t know. There’s zero budget. They didn’t even want to bring me low-key, but I was like, “Come on.” Nick [Pinkerton, the screenwriter of The Sweet East] and Sean [Price Williams, the director] can’t represent this movie. But I wish everyone came. Cannes was way more fun, low-key.

HARRIS: Cannes was super fun.

RYDER: We’re having fun though. Earl’s just groupie-ing.

HARRIS: Have you seen Almost Famous before?

RYDER: Yeah.

HARRIS: He’s a Band-Aid.

RYDER: Yeah, basically.

HARRIS: So there’s too many questions to ask you, but I’m trying to do it quick because you’re on a world tour and I’m in the back of an Uber.

RYDER: Where are you going? What are you doing?

HARRIS: I’m going to a reading for my old assistant of her new screenplay. She’s a genius, so I was like, “Let’s gloss it up, get it printed out, do it at CAA.”

RYDER: I did a reading the day of the New York Film Festival thing. Tommy’s producing this play—

HARRIS: Oh, sick. Yes, yes, yes. Tommy Dorfman.

RYDER: Yeah, she’s amazing.

HARRIS: Okay. But you’re gearing up to be the princess of ultra-low-budget downtown New York City cinema. You started out being crowned by Eliza Hittman [who directed Ryder in Never Rarely Sometimes Always], the great star-maker herself. And now you’re working with the Kim’s Video indie sleaze, Dimes Square—

RYDER: No, no, not indie sleaze.

HARRIS: [Laughs] You’re their Chloë Sevigny—

RYDER: Not the buzzword—

HARRIS: Their Isabelle Adjani.

RYDER: Fuck being a princess. I’m trying to work my way up to being king.

HARRIS: I love that. You’re going to slay all the dragons and name yourself king.

RYDER: Yeah. I want to be making indie movies, but I’m working my way up.

HARRIS: So tell me about that. Because you’ve been carrying a camera around everywhere you’ve gone on this tour. You had one with us at Cannes. You had one on-stage at the New York Film Festival. What’s going on? What are you making?

RYDER: Well, it’s our plan to make this extensive Blu-ray with all these features. And Keith [Poulson] shot a lot of BTS while we were filming the movie, but I want to shoot the after-movie, what happens after The Sweet East. Leia [Jospé] and I edited together what I got at Cannes, have you seen it? We played it at KGB one night. I feel like it’s a continuation of The Sweet East in a way. I don’t know what I want it to be yet, but something funny.

HARRIS: What I love about you stepping into that space is that you know your movies, and I think that for someone your age—it’s really wild, the disparate and rich movie love you have. Were you always that girl?

RYDER: Honestly, no. Growing up I didn’t watch a ton of movies. Before I did Eliza’s movie, I hadn’t seen very many. But after making one, I was obviously fascinated and also realized that it was probably my favorite medium of storytelling and that I eventually want to tell my own stories. But dance was my life before then and that was what I spent all my time doing.

HARRIS: Speaking of which, I just saw a show last night by this dance company from France I’m obsessed with. I genuinely think they would make you a principal if you auditioned tomorrow.

RYDER: Wait, who?

HARRIS: They’re called (La)Horde. They are absolute geniuses. We have to collab with them.

RYDER: Oh, wow. They look sick. That’s literally all I want to do. All the stuff that I’m writing and working on in my own time is all very dance-heavy. I’m just trying to continue my dance training so I can be a choreographer. I want to direct and choreograph my own movies.

HARRIS: It makes so much sense that you want to be a director and a choreographer because you have such a stillness when you’re working. I remember me and Ayo just looked at each other after we did our first scene with you and we were like, “Wow. She’s like an actor, actor.” You seem to know the direction that everyone should be taking and the speed and the energy that it should have. That was so amazing to have that in a scene partner. Did you always have that innate sense or do you feel like you learned that along the way?

RYDER: Dance is the only area of performance that I have been trained in and I feel like it’s taught me the importance of stillness and body language and how to hold yourself confidently. I don’t know how to put it into words, but I feel like everything I know about acting, I know through dance. That’s why a lot of times people comment on my stillness or looks or gazes. It’s because I know how to communicate without speaking. That’s what dance is. Actually, we’re going to do a concert type thing after our New York premiere of the film, and I want to see if I can get some of my dancer friends to come and dance. I’m going to perform the song from the film and one of my original songs. And I told Sean that I want to do a dance solo to start showing people how cool dance is again—

HARRIS: I love that. You’re really going to be out here reminding people that dance is that girl.

RYDER: Dance is that girl. Also, Sean wants you to do a reading—

HARRIS: Maybe I’ll do a play, because also theater’s that girl.

RYDER: Exactly.

HARRIS: Okay. So what we know about our movie The Sweet East is that it was really weird to film. It was a really weird script to read, but Sean was our captain and we followed him, and that always made it feel safe and fun. But now it’s giving Europe loves the movie. Europe is like, “This is real cinema.”

RYDER: Europe’s rocking with it, which is crazy to me because I was worried that so much of the humor is so American and so many bits are—

HARRIS: Not just American: weird, over-35-year-old man’s humor. [Laughs]

RYDER: Yeah, it’s really niche. I feel like the New York City parts and the beginning with the high school kids has some younger social media–esque humor in there, but it’s a movie for nerds. So it is cool that people are liking it so much.

HARRIS: I loved it and I was so excited to be a part of it, but I was genuinely like, “Who is this for?” But as you’ve been out there, how have you been describing this very American internet brain to Europeans?

RYDER: I have no idea. But they seem to be getting it. People have different reactions in different cities. They always want to know why Nick and Sean wanted to tell this story from the perspective of a 17-year-old girl, whereas in Spain, they were more curious about Lillian’s character and her motivations. At the very end of the movie, instead of saying, “The End,” the title card says, “Everything Will Happen.” And people have started finally asking about that, which I love so much. But everyone seems to be liking it. We haven’t gotten any hate, except on Letterboxd.

HARRIS: What’s your favorite piece of hate from Letterboxd?

RYDER: Someone said, “I’d rather peel my skin off than watch this movie again.” Honestly, people could be meaner. I was kind of hoping for more hate.

HARRIS: The only reason I brought up Dimes Square before is because I live in it and I don’t think about it as a place. But this very tall, very pretty guy came up to me at the after-party for the movie. And I hope he reads this because I want him to know that he was really hot and he could call me sometime. But anyway, we were walking up the stairs to KGB Bar [in New York City] and the guy was like, “Hey, great job in the movie tonight.” And I said, “Oh, thanks.” And he was like, “I actually went to hate-watch it, but I left kind of liking it.” And I was like, “Kind of ?”

RYDER: I’m dead.

HARRIS: I was like, “Why did you go to hate on it?” And he was like, “You know, it just felt so, part of the scene.” I was like, “What scene is that?” [Laughs] “Do you want to be part of a scene of broke filmmakers?” And he was like, “It just feels like they’re all doing things with each other and it’s a very elite group to be a part of.” And I was like, “Oh my god.” I feel like they were begging people to work on this movie.

RYDER: That’s so funny. But I mean, kind of cool? Also, what scene? Like KGB movie night?

HARRIS: [Laughs]

RYDER: Even the tweet you sent about Dimes Square cinema, I don’t even know what Dimes Square cinema is.

HARRIS: Did you see that movie that the Red Scare girl did?


HARRIS: [Laughs] I think that’s the closest thing. But listen, I have to go up to this reading now, but I think we got everything we need.

RYDER: You’re so good at interviews.


RYDER: I’m choking at these Q&As without you, Jeremy! [Laughs]

HARRIS: You’re all good.

RYDER: Thank you for doing it.

HARRIS: Thank you. I love you.

RYDER: Love you. Bye.


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