In the comedy-drama “Mistress America,” Lola Kirke plays Tracy, a college freshman in New York City who’s searching for her place in the world.
College is a letdown for Tracy. She’s bored at school and has little social life. But then Tracy meets Brooke, her future sister-in-law. Brooke is looking for her place in the world, too, and doing so with infectious enthusiasm.
Greta Gerwig co-stars as Brooke. Gerwig also co-wrote “Mistress America” with her real-life boyfriend, Noah Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale,” “Greenberg”). The pair previously collaborated on another New York story about a young woman reaching for bigger things, “Frances Ha.”
Kirke, 25, the daughter of rock drummer Simon Kirke, spent her early childhood in London before moving to New York. Her “Mistress America” character, however, is a novice New Yorker.
“It was a pleasure to play someone who comes to New York with fresh eyes, who isn’t jaded by the city in a way that I have been at times,” she said.
Kirke’s highest-profile film performance before “Mistress America” is a pivotal supporting role in the David Fincher-directed hit, “Gone Girl.” She plays a thief who beats and robs Rosamund Pike’s character.
Kirke will appear with Tom Cruise in “Mena,” the upcoming biopic about notorious Baton Rouge drug dealer Barry Seal. She’s also been shooting the second season of the Amazon series “Mozart in the Jungle.”
Kirke auditioned 10 times for the role of Tracy in “Mistress America.”
“Noah and Greta run a tight ship,” she said. “They gave me pages from the script 10 minutes before the first audition. That happened at the next nine auditions.”
Once Kirke got the part, she finally got the complete script.
“I read it with Noah and Greta in their apartment while they played all the roles except for mine,” she said.
Before Kirke appeared in a Baumbach film, she was a fan of his films, especially “The Squid and the Whale” and “Margot at the Wedding.”
“Noah’s sense of morality and immorality got me,” she said. “He writes for characters who are incredibly intelligent, yet somewhat unlikeable, in a very specific voice.”
Kirke didn’t see Baumbach and Gerwig’s previous film collaboration, “Frances Ha,” until “Mistress America” wrapped.
“Greta adds slapstick to Noah’s humor,” she said. “There’s something special about what they create together.”
The actress sees heart and humor in Baumbach and Gerwig’s latest collaboration, “Mistress America.”
“It defies any kind of box,” she said. “They’ve had a hard time summarizing the film in a punchy three-sentence pitch. It’s a story of female friendship, but it’s not a chick flick. It’s about writing and the ethics of creativity. It’s about trying to change your position in the world. It’s expansive. At the same time, it’s an 87-minute-long comedy.”
The actress sees much realism in Gerwig’s reaching-for-the-stars Brooke.
“I’ve known many Brookes,” she said. “They may be their own worst enemies, but they were at times braver than I. They instructed me in being brave myself.”