Interview: Greta Gerwig on 'Lola Versus'

In "Lola Versus," indie star Greta Gerwig plays a woman on the cusp of 30 who's suddenly dumped by her fiancé Luke (Joel Kinnaman). Lola's left to navigate the herky-jerky waters of dating in NYC alongside her friends Henry (Hamish Linklater) and Alice (Zoe Lister-Jones). Naturally, she makes more than a few mistakes before realizing she can do just fine on her own, thank you very much.

That's not all that's in store for Gerwig, though. She recently starred in Whit Stillman's long-awaited return to film, "Damsels in Distress," and she's in the new Woody Allen movie "To Rome with Love." Here she dishes on having love scenes with RoboCop, the secret nerdiness of Alec Baldwin and why going to a women's college rocks.

How much of this is based on Zoe Lister-Jones herself, who cowrote the film? I know that "Breaking Upwards" [which she also cowrote with "Lola" director Daryl Wein] was very personal.

A lot of it was based on her, even the way Lola eats -- she eats a lot but it's all health food. That's totally Zoe. She's a complete health nut, but she'll binge on a bunch of coconut water or something. I'm not that way. A lot of it was based on Zoe and experiences she went through and the panic of being single in your twenties in New York. That was really nice in a lot of ways, that she was there, because Zoe's a lot neater and a lot more type A than I am, and I think that that need to control everything is very present in the character. It's true of Zoe, but she does it in a very lovable way, and I think having someone there who felt very close to the character was helpful for me.

Also Check Out: 5 Questions With "Lola Versus" Star and Writer Zoe Lister-Jones

Getting dumped by RoboCop [Joel Kinnaman, who will star in the remake of the 1987 film] must suck.

Joel Kinnaman, he's the most handsome in the world. His body is ridiculous. It's ridiculous. It was really crazy. I felt embarrassed around him all the time because I work out, but I don't look like he does! [laughs] I was always like, I feel not so great about my body right now because your body is Adonis. It's like a god body. But that's okay.

"To Rome with Love" looks amazing. You and Jesse Eisenberg and Ellen Page are such an awesome trio, especially for a Woody Allen movie because you guys are super brainiacs. And then Alec Baldwin is there!

I know, I love all three of those people so much. We had so much fun doing it. Alec and Jesse and Ellen are all so different and funny and awesome and interesting, but I did feel that, especially with me and Ellen and Jesse, we were all kind of like, "Is this really happening? Are we really here doing this?" And then Alec would say, "Yes, you are. It's great," and kind of move it along. It was really exciting and fun. And also Alec is a major brainiac. He really is. He's such a nerd. You'd never really guess it because he's so suave, but he's always carrying around, like, seven different magazines and newspapers and he knows everything and he's totally up on all political [and] social issues [and] totally invested in it. I would not be surprised if he becomes Mayor of New York City … It would make New York even cooler than it already is.

You went to Barnard ... My alma mater is 60/40, so it feels like a girls' school but there's still dudes. I'm curious what that dynamic was like at Barnard.

Barnard doesn't feel like a girls' school either in that the spread is also 60/40 because of Columbia and the School of Engineering, so it doesn't feel like an all-girls school the way I think it feels like an all-girls school to go to Smith or Mount Holyoke.

This feels like you're at a school that has a lot of girls, but I think that what's important about it is that there's within the administration and the support system, it is a college designed for women even though men are in your classes. So the student health services are really good, and they're really looking out for women's health issues, which is something that I think on campuses sometimes gets lost. It's just a different atmosphere as far as women speaking out about things, and I think sometimes sexual assaults [are] underreported on campuses because they feel like there's not support in the administration for it, and this is a place where I think women feel that they deserve all the rights that they have, and they're willing to fight for them in a way that maybe co-ed campuses aren't as good at facilitating.

Do you think an education like that helped you find your voice to write and jump into the projects that you're doing?

Totally. Totally. 100 percent. In high school, no one ever asked me if I wanted to write or was interested in writing or could write. I felt like I was empowered when I was at school, and I also just had smart, interesting people tell me for the first time I was good at acting and writing and maybe I should do this. They provided a platform for me to explore myself both artistically and intellectually, and that's, I think, the benefit of a liberal arts education, is that you don't just get one thing. You don't come out saying, "Oh, I'm a trained actor but I didn't actually get to read anything" or something like that, and I think that that was very important for me.

Did you take a lot of weird classes?

I took an ethno-musicology class about Caribbean music, which was pretty amazing actually, and a lot of the assignments were [to] go listen to music in Queens or Harlem and go into these clubs, and it was really fun. Ethno-musicology is kind of amazing. I learned so much more about the history of Puerto Rico and Cuba and the Dominican Republic through this class because the history of the music has so much to do with the history of those countries. My favorite way to learn history is through the lens of either literature, music, or art. It really does trace intellectual and cultural and political developments, and that's really cool.