We’ve seen the movie, and for us, Townhouse Confidential is a romantic comedy as well as a choral reflection about life in New York, about the eco-system, and above all, deep down, about time. I wanted to ask you: Is this a modern or classic comedy? How do you feel in the eco-system of Townhouse Confidential, and how did you both tackle the movie and the screenplay?
Samantha: Great question! I feel like the movie is a lovely combination of the two time periods, modern and classic. I would say the modern elements include: the locations (Magnolia, Joe’s Coffee, John’s pizza), and the characters you meet (Mary, Billie, Lydia, and Johnathan) are all people you would meet in the contemporary world of the West Village. The classic energy comes from Liz and George. In today’s day and age, a woman needing her prince charming and getting her happy ending feels very classic to me. She also falls in love with George in a very similar fashion to how Elizabeth falls in love in Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” I feel like Lizzy flows between the two eco-systems (modern and classic) very well. We get to see the hard-working, Townhouse loving firecracker. But we also get to see the damsel in distress who wants a prince to save her. It was fun bouncing between the two types of energies! In terms of tackling the screenplay- I did a lot of outside character work. What makes Liz tick, what are her likes and dislikes, and what do other people think about her so that in any interaction or situation, we can relate to what Liz is going through.
Lee: Thanks for your close watching of the film! It feels very classic to me. We all got the green light to go extra-theatrical with our work, which ended up making it feel like an old-Hollywood farce at times. There are modern trappings, of course, especially with the text-message graphics. But even references to the Internet feel more ‘90s than current (“blogosphere”). The only real hint you get that we shot in summer ‘21 are the outdoor-seating structures. This timelessness led me to lean hard in the direction of stage acting.
Townhouse Confidential is, above all, a movie about human relationships, and the question is inevitable. How was your relationship as principal actors and the interaction with the rest of the cast and team?
Samantha: Lee is the best! He always made me feel safe, comfortable, cared for, and heard. Prior to shooting, we only had the table read, and we met up once for coffee because we lived in the same neighborhood. So maybe 4 hours together, tops? Our first day together was the fireplace scene, which was one of my favorites to film and watch. The trust we both had in each other, I think, really shines through. Lee is a great scene partner and now a great friend and colleague!
The rest of the cast and team were also a joy to work with. My on-screen sisters are now some of my closest friends. Brittany (Lydia) and I send voice memo texts to each other because we are old ladies. The crew always made me feel so taken care of! I have some dietary restrictions and was always consulted on the menu and ingredients to make sure I could eat. I also have some health complications (I am immunocompromised due to my rheumatoid arthritis), but the entire crew made me feel incredibly safe despite filming during a pandemic. We all shared a lot of laughs in between takes!
Lee: Sam is a true professional. She was so prepared. I had nothing to worry about going into our scenes together. However, I was super nervous about that fireplace scene because it was the very first thing I shot on my first day (Sam had worked a couple of days already). But we ended up having a lot of fun with that one. Also, just being at a fireplace in New York at all is a rare occurrence.
I was always in awe of our electrics department because they worked faster than any crew I’ve known. Shots were often designed on the fly, so there was extra pressure on our lighting team to keep things on schedule. And they always delivered! Shout out to David Anthony, our gaffer, for his speedy techniques.
Townhouse Confidential is a movie directed by Patrick Perez Vidauri. What was your relationship with the director, and in what measure did the actors contribute to the final result? What is it like to work with Patrick? Any anecdote you would like to share with the readers?
Samantha: Fun fact, Patrick and I are both Columbia Alumni! We bonded over that very quickly. I love Patrick and his directing style. It is very collaborative, but he also has a clear vision and communicates well with the entire team. We all had to be on our A-game because of the limited time we had to shoot, but Pat made sure we all felt in control of our characters in this heightened world that he created.
In terms of contributing to the final result, there were definitely scenes in which we did some improvisation or contributed to what was seen on camera. The rooftop scene was one where we had to pivot because our location changed, so we had to adjust lines that day!
My favorite story is actually in between takes. We were filming at Ros’s townhouse, and a woman started screaming “Help!” outside, so our DP and the key grip went outside to see what was going on. A man had stolen a woman’s phone, and she was trying to get it back. Pat went outside to help, and between the three of them, they got the woman’s phone back and managed to chase him away! We then shot the rest of that day with the adrenaline from our team, saving the day.
Lee: Nothing like a little theft prevention to keep things interesting! That was a memorable day, to say the least. Patrick set a prime example for all of us to follow in terms of high spirits and no drama. We got to play in what often felt like another dimension, but the vibe on set was down-to-earth and genuinely supportive. I credit Patrick with maintaining that positive energy for an entire month, no matter what logistical challenges presented themselves.
Watching the movie, we can see several takes on different things: It is a classic romantic comedy, a movie about New York in the Annie Hall sense, and also a movie about our times, a modern vision with a classic spirit. This is what we perceive. How do you feel about this as part of the film? What would you tell us we are going to find in Townhouse Confidential that we will not find in other movies, and what brought you to form part of this New York environment?
Samantha: I loved that the movie showcased so many different takes, from the classic rom-com moments to the iconic filming locations and the modern approach to a classic story. I would say in Townhouse Confidential; you find real people that you would come across in New York City every day. You have Liz, who on the outside looks like she has it all, a great job that she enjoys, a beautiful townhouse in the west village, and some great friends. On the surface, that is all true, but Liz is doing her best to hold everything together; she struggles to pay off her mortgage, her house has its issues, and she has relationship struggles. Mary is another fun character who seems to have all the insight into NY but hates leaving her house to do it. These are real people going through real things in a heightened world. That is my favorite part of the story!
Lee: I think what you can find in Townhouse that you can’t find elsewhere is our particular brand of cartoonishness mixed with this particular set of New York environments. Diners and brownstones often showcase dramas or more-realistic comedies. We took a bucket of pastels to that world.
To finish and this time, separately: What projects do you have now? Are any new movies under wraps? When will we be seeing Lee Tyler and Samantha Simone in another project?
Samantha: Thank you! At the moment, just auditioning, but I keep my website up to date. Check it out anytime to see what is next for me: samanthanicolesimone.com and on Instagram @samisims21
Lee: I’m in two short films playing at festivals right now: “While He Talks” and “Female Narrative.” They both involve immersive dreams and me playing an oblivious jerk. My website is leetyler.info, and I’m on Instagram @leetylersee
Thanks to both of you, it has been our pleasure to interview you in this sort of experiment with parallel questioning, which we hope, will please everyone. Thank you, and we wish you the greatest success with this project, which is now in its final stage. Lots of luck.