Actor Olivia Wilde on Devon's Search for Identity ? and Her "Deep Love" for Richie
What makes Devon decide to return home to Greenwich after her three days away?
It's a combination of feeling a responsibility toward her children and a deep love for Richie, which is the thing I find most compelling about their relationship. It's incredibly volatile, but it's undeniably passionate. They find it nearly impossible to coexist, yet they can't live without one another. Also, Devon hasn't quite been pushed to her limits yet, though she is by episode's end. She also feels a deep sense of guilt about her children. I think she's unclear about whether or not she's allowed to start an independent life, so she's stuck between a rock and a hard place in that way. Her identity as a mother is something she replaced her old self with. She was a very different woman before her children. She has to figure out who she is as a mother and an independent artist back in the city. She's only ever been one or the other.
That question of identity is something plenty of women are still struggling with today.
Absolutely. That's what I find so interesting about playing her. Without women like Devon and her generation, we wouldn't be where we are today. They struggled through the cultural and sexual revolutions so we can feel the kind of confidence we do now as working mothers. It's easy to watch a story like Devon's and say, "Well come on, she should just get out of [the situation]. What is she doing?" Because that's how we approach things as modern women. But for a woman whose entire identity is based on one relationship, and her role as a mother, it's almost impossible for her to consider that she could exist as an independent woman at the same time.
What do you make of the tense conversation between Devon and Ingrid's boyfriend, Paul?
Well, the history of Devon and Ingrid is really interesting. We've seen from Episode 2 that Devon betrayed Ingrid in a way, by hooking up with Richie, when Richie was already quite involved with Ingrid. I think we can assume because of the times that there was a certain amount of forgiveness there, but I do think it adds to their complicated history. It's also been suggested that they had a relationship themselves. That's part of what Ingrid is dealing with -- a deep love for Devon that goes beyond merely the platonic.
Devon has, at times, used Ingrid. It's an uneven friendship. Paul is privy to that history, and although Devon has evolved to a much less selfish place, she's still leaning on Ingrid in a way that is more reminiscent of an earlier time in their friendship. Devon really loves Ingrid, and the reintroduction of Ingrid into her life has given her the confidence to rediscover herself. When she reconnects with Ingrid, she's in a really desperate, vulnerable place, and it's going to have to swing into the other direction for their friendship to last. Devon's going to have to give just as much as she takes.
You get the sense that Ingrid is a maternal creature who's used by more people than just Devon. She's very strong and glamorous, yet there's something about her that makes you wonder if she gives too much of herself and is left depleted.
What was it like to film that devastating scene in Coney Island?
It was incredible to play a scene that goes from one place to something completely different. That switch is one of the most terrifying things about life -- how you can go from a very happy, carefree moment to a completely shocking and ultimately devastating one. That's what's so painful about this scene. You sense that the immediate shock of that accident doesn't ever quite wear off -- it's affected these characters for the rest of their lives.
Certainly for Devon and Richie, it explains why Devon has been so angry with him for falling off the wagon. She loses the baby that night, so when you reflect on how flippant Richie has been about using again, you understand why it's driving Devon insane. He seems to have forgotten that they went through this devastating experience. But since he's having these hallucinations of Ernst, we know he hasn't really recovered. In a way, it explains why Richie finds himself in such a difficult situation at this point in his life. He has a tendency to act without awareness of consequence. He can be impulsive and hotheaded and it gets him into these very difficult situations.
Why does Devon agree to the double date with Hannibal, after so recently visiting a divorce lawyer?
It's one of those examples of Devon really loving Richie. She's willing to support him when she knows he really needs her. There's another side to it too -- they don't go out all that often anymore. They used to be very social, cosmopolitan, bohemian people, and she's going through this period of really missing that part of their lives. So the idea of going out with Hannibal, who is a huge star, is kind of exciting. It's like they're back in the game. It's 50 percent selfish and 50 percent liking that Richie's asking for her help. It's flattering to know he needs her to close this deal. She has a way with people. She's incredibly charming, and I think she enjoys being valued as that person again.
She also likes that Richie is looking at her in a different way; suddenly he's lusting after her. You get the sense that the fire has left their relationship and we were introduced to them as an extremely passionate, physical couple. Though Devon misunderstands that look; Richie sees her actions with Hannibal has a betrayal, whereas she sees it as a seduction of Richie. That misunderstanding between them is so painful for me, because Devon really feels that this is a return to passion for them. When she slaps him, he completely deserves it, but I don't think she's ever slapped him in anger before. This is her best friend, and it's now reached this place where they're screaming at each other in the street.
It's interesting that despite all of Richie's faults, infidelity isn't one of them.
I think it's interesting too. They really are stuck with each other because no one else can compare. I love how Allen Coulter directed Episode 2, the scene where you see Richie and Devon together in the bathroom for the first time. It's a very slow approach; like they know they're two forces of nature that once they collide, it can't be undone. They may have found themselves at low points in their relationship before, but it's never gotten to the disrespect of infidelity. Going forward, we'll see that they have to explore what they really want. Ultimately, I think they do end up as happier people, but it's going to be a very painful process.
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