Joey Lauren Adams

[ACTRESS/SCREENWRITER/DIRECTOR]

“THE WAY WE WERE TAUGHT, WRITING SEEMED TO ME LIKE SOMETHING THAT DEAD PEOPLE DID.”
Things you won't find in Joey Lauren Adams’s film Come Early Morning:
Aluminum siding
Shitty furniture

You know Joey Lauren Adams from Dazed and Confused (1993) and Chasing Amy (1997). In 1999, despairing of being offered another good, complex character to play, she decided to write one for herself, in a story largely about her own family, her own fears, and Arkansas, where she grew up. In 2006, after a number of discouraging false starts, she made the script, Come Early Morning, as writer and director. Adams gave the plum lead role of Lucy to Ashley Judd, who, as a result, has received her best reviews since Ruby in Paradise (1993). As the casting indicates, Adams became less interested in acting during the long process of moving her script from the page to the screen. She recently moved from Los Angeles (though she hasn’t given up her house there) to Oxford, Mississippi, where she continues to write. We had planned to conduct this interview on the balcony of Square Books, the town bookstore, but it was too cold to sit outside. Adams gave me a ride to her house in her pickup truck. She moved some heavy furniture (a big wooden table and a leather chair) just to make sure I was perfectly comfortable and had a nice place to sit.

—Jack Pendarvis

*

THE BELIEVER: You almost gave up several times—both on the script and on the hope of raising the money to make it. What kept you going?

JOEY LAUREN ADAMS: My motivation was, I was out one night and met these two horticulturists who had somehow managed to get into this very trendy bar. We were wasted, me and all my friends, and it was probably Tuesday night. The bar was closing and we were going on to my friend’s house and I invited these two young kids. And they said, “But it’s two.” And I said, “It’s too what?” And they said, “It’s two in the morning, what’s the special occasion?” And I don’t know, it just broke my heart. I had no reason to be clearheaded tomorrow. Almost like, I want to have a reason to sleep in. Let me wake up out of my head so I can sleep till noon and half my day’s gone. This was an awful way to live. It was the key thing that told me, “You’ve got to write, you’ve got to write.” I knew I wanted to come back to the South, and again, that’s another reason I wanted to start writing and directing, because I can do that from anywhere.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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Jack Pendarvis has written two books of short stories, The Mysterious Secret of the Valuable Treasure and Your Body Is Changing, the latter of which will come out later this year.

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