Melanie Lynskey and Justin Long star in "Lady of the Manor." Photo courtesy of Lionsgate
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Melanie Lynskey and Justin Long said Lynskey's character in the movie Lady of the Manor, out Friday, resembles characters played by Bill Murray and Seth Rogen in movies. Lynskey plays a stoner and heavy drinker who meets a ghost at her new job.
"Melanie Lynskey is playing the classic '80s Bill Murray character, the kind of antihero that doesn't have her life together, smokes weed and has sex," Long told UPI in a Zoom interview. "Really, what we wanted to do was a classic odd couple comedy. It just happens to involve a ghost."
Long, 43, co-wrote Lady of the Manor with his younger brother Christian, 40. Justin Long also directed the movie and plays Max, a love interest for Hannah (Lynskey).
Hannah gets a job at Wadsworth Manor, portraying Lady Wadsworth for tourists. Hannah doesn't do her homework, and the ghost of Lady Wadsworth (Judy Greer) appears, indignant at her inaccuracies.
"I also felt like she was somebody who Seth Rogen would play," Lynskey said. "I think it's harder for people to see women relaxing and not doing anything."
The 44-year-old Lynskey recurred on the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men. However, Lynskey said she often turns down comedies she is offered.
"It's hard to make me laugh," she said.
Lynskey said Hannah's stoner, slacker attitude sold her on Lady of the Manor.
The character becomes aware that the owners of Wadsworth Manor stole the estate from Lady Wadsworth, but she's too lazy to solve the mystery.
"She was just so lazy, and that was the funniest thing to me," Lynskey said. "She would always default to complaining and drinking."
Lynskey said the humor of Lady of the Manor pushed her out of her comfort zone. The comedy employs fart jokes, which Lynskey said are not her forte.
"It's not something that I find very funny, but other people find it funny, and I was like, 'All right, I trust you,'" Lynskey said. "This is not my comfort zone, so farting, burping, any of that stuff, I had to have a lot of instruction."
Long said one of the film's fart jokes was inspired by a neighbor he and Christian had growing up. The neighbor came over for dinner and excused herself to go to another room.
The boys realized she had excused herself to fart. So they wrote a scene in which the Lady teaches Hannah to fart in another room. However, Hannah gets caught, anyway.
"Everyone farts," Long said. "It's a reality of the world. Everybody farts, so there is an etiquette around that."
Long also said that Lynskey and Greer asked questions if they felt a scripted scene wasn't working. Justin said he and Christian would write a better joke on the spot, and Lynskey confirmed she was specific about the comedy.
"I'll point something out if it doesn't work or if there's a repetitive word, the word is used twice in the same sentence," Lynskey said. "I'm a little bit of a stickler for that stuff."
Max, a professor, ultimately helps Hannah solve the mystery of Wadsworth Manor by taking on the library research. Justin said he and Christian based Max on their father, Fairfield University emeritus philosophy Professor R. James Long.
"Our dad is an academic," Long said. "He's very pragmatic. He has that kind of mind."
Lynskey said she and Long related to each other, having both grown up as actors. Long's first movie role was in 1999's Galaxy Quest when he was 21.
Lynskey debuted in 1994's Heavenly Creatures when she was 15. Looking back, she said she was worried she would never work again, because it was four years before she played a wicked stepsister in the Cinderella drama Ever After.
"It took a long time for me to build my career and also to build my confidence, and feel like I deserved it. "It was four years, which is enough time to be like, 'Well, that's never going to happen again,'" she said.
Both Lynskey and Long worked steadily. Both said they never had to take gigs like Hannah, performing for tourists.
"I'm fascinated by those places," Long said. "I haven't but I love going to them. I love ghost tours."
Lynskey said she has been an audience member for tours during which the guide performed in character. As a fellow actor, Lynskey said, she gives those performers encouragement.
"It's very hard to commit to a character when people around you are bored or disdainful," Lynskey said. "Half the people were dragged there by a family member."
Lady of the Manor opens in select theaters and on video-on-demand Friday. It will be available on DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday.