Brit Marling had two films premiere at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, both of which she stars in and co-wrote: “Another Earth” and “Sound of My Voice.” “Sound of my Voice” is easily the better of the two, telling the story of Peter (Christopher Denham) and Lorna (Nicole Vicius), a couple who infiltrate a cult that meets in a remote Valley basement. Marling plays Maggie, the enigmatic leader of the cult who claims to be from the year 2054. “Sound of my Voice” opens in Austin today.
“Sound of My Voice” screened at last year’s South By Southwest Film Festival, and The Daily Texan sat down with Marling after the film showing.
Daily Texan: Where did you come up for the idea for this film?
Brit Marling: [Director] Zal [Batmanglij] and I were writing another film at the time. He came into one of our writing sessions and was like, ‘Oh my God, I had this dream last night! In this dream, I was blindfolded and my hands were bound and I was in a hospital gown and I was being led down these basement stairs.’ That image that he created was so intense and riveting that I was inspired, and I was like, ‘Yes! And they come into this basement and there are people in white, and they’re meditating in these pools of light, and this woman comes out and she’s a young girl but she has oxygen tubes and she’s breathing from this thing and she’s covered in a white shroud.’ We just kept jumping back and forth. We kept telling each other this story, and for some reason it came out pretty organically.
DT: Did you do any research into cults before you started writing?
Marling: We didn’t really. I did a lot of research in going to play the part of Maggie. I watched a lot of cult documentaries. But mostly, we asked ourselves, if we ran into somebody on the street who said, ‘There is somebody you have got to meet,’ and we went through this experience where we showed up at this house and are blindfolded, and if someone actually claimed to be a time traveler, what would they have to do or say to make us believe? What would that experience be like? So a lot of it just came out of that imagination.
DT: Was Maggie written with you in mind?
Marling: Yeah. It’s funny, when we first wrote the script and we would go try to raise money to try to get it made, people always thought I would be playing Lorna, but we never thought of it that way. We always thought I would play Maggie, and I’m not sure why, but that was a character that really intrigued me. I wanted to get to the bottom of her fragility and her strength.
DT: I really enjoyed the ambiguity of the ending.
Marling: I love that. I think a lot of people have your experience, and I think I’m that sort of way too. I’m kind of skeptical about the world, but I want to believe, and that’s sort of Peter’s experience. He’s a man of reason and logic, and then he has this experience at the end that he cannot rationally explain. I guess the truth is I want to have that experience. We all want to have that experience — we want to believe that something magical or ethereal is happening in all of these mundane settings we’re in. I think the movie is about that, and the truth is there’s no proof either way, which is what faith is, right?
DT: Do you plan to resolve the story at some point?
Marling: This is actually part of a much larger story that we mapped out. There is eventually an answer to the riddle of ‘Who is Maggie?’ If we’re lucky enough to get there, we would love to share that answer with the world.