If you’ve ever met a stranger at a nightclub and then woke up the next morning laying with them naked on a beach in Athens, you can relate to what the characters in Monday are experiencing.
Chloe (Denise Gough) and Mickey (Sebastian Stan) are two Americans who meet by chance in Greece, then strike up a whirlwind romance that goes on much longer than either probably expected at first. The new film from director Argyris Papadimitropoulos navigates the way that this relationship between these two develops with a time-jumping narrative that shows them maneuvering through the kind of hot and cold moments that any relationship faces.
Leading lady Denise Gough sat down with me to talk about the process of making this wild adventure of a movie. Gough was an absolute delight, beginning the convo by telling me that if Awards Radar gave out awards for Best Interview then she would be sure to give me an extra special interview with all of the best juicy details that no one else was getting.
Unfortunately, we don’t give out those kinds of awards (although it’s certainly a thought now…), but Gough thankfully still gave me plenty of fun stories about shooting the film with Sebastian Stan, and the ways that the Greek community embraced and added to the project. We also dove into how watching the movie feels different during the time of COVID, and how much we long to get back to a world where you can lick a stranger’s face. It’s a brief conversation, but clearly a lot of fun.
Read below for my interview with actress Denise Gough.
Mitchell Beaupre: The opening of the movie really throws us right into the deep end with this very elaborate party scene, the first of many throughout the film. Is it a little bit odd looking back on those scenes now after the year we’ve been living through?
Denise Gough: It’s kind of poignant, isn’t it? I feel like this is the perfect film to come out now because it reminds us of what we’ve got to look forward to. We will dance again, we will lick each other’s faces again, we will do all sorts of inappropriate shit, and we’ll do it all on Greek islands! I feel like this film being delayed has turned out to be a pretty beautiful thing because it’s a little bit of sugar in a year that has been so exhausting for all of us. It’s funny, there’s a scene in the trailer where Sebastian licks my neck all the way up and then I do the same to him, and when the trailer came out I texted Sebastian and told him that if we did that now we’d be arrested! I think that alone is enough to sell this film. We lick each other’s faces in this film, people!
MB: I was curious about the process of shooting those party scenes. They’re incredibly chaotic, but Agyris needs to make sure that the two of you are always centered still, and the audience knows where you are at any given point.
DG: You’ve got to work with the Greeks to understand this because those parties were real parties. Argyris put posters around the small Greek island where we were shooting and they were just all over town inviting people to come to this amazing party that we’re doing for a film. It was honestly the first time I had seen Instagram used for something good too! I’m a bit freaked out by social media, but Sebastian has loads of fans and so they put on his Instagram that we were making this film and we need lots of people to come and party. Loads of people who love Sebastian showed up and helped us make the film, and that was pretty beautiful because it was also allowing them to give something back to this guy that they love so much. They were all so respectful too. He’s so kind and loving to his fans. I mean, obviously they wanted to kill me because I was kissing him. (laughing)
MB: It’s easy to see how your character Chloe is drawn to Sebastian’s Mickey in the film, as he’s very charismatic, drawing everyone in the room towards him. Did you have a similar experience when you met Sebastian?
DG: We had great chemistry. I got cast off a chemistry read in New York with him. It just felt so easy, we are like a couple of kids. He is very charismatic. I find actors to be that way in general. It’s our job to create these intimacies with people very quickly, which I suppose can get confusing for people too because we’re good at it. Sebastian and I were really a partnership through this film, we spent all of our time together. Just like the movie, you have this initial audition where the chemistry is so strong, and then not long after we’re meeting in some restaurant in Greece for breakfast after sitting in a car together for four hours and we’re just like “ugh now we’re just two people”. It was great because we really had to absolutely be ourselves with each other and meet each other at every corner of vulnerability and fear. I think that’s what they try to do for each other in the film. Chloe shows up for Mickey as much as she can, and Mickey for her. We love to judge relationships and say that some people are great together and some aren’t, but we don’t fucking know. Life is just happening, and we’re all diving in, so the more compassion we can have for the mess we’re all making the better.
MB: The two of you build a very authentic relationship together. Was there a lot of improvisation on the set between you and Sebastian?
DG: Oh it was all improvised! We had a skeleton script, but the words were all us. There are such great writers out there, I love writers and I come from a stage background so I’m used to doing like Tony Kushner and Eugene O’Neill, and then somehow for this film it’s just like Denise Gough and Sebastian Stan are gonna talk to each other (laughing). That’s when authenticity comes into it, though. It might not sound like eloquence, but who’s eloquent all of the time? Nobody. If you are, you’re trying too hard and it doesn’t sound natural. In the film you’ll see sometimes we’re exhausted, sometimes sentences don’t finish, and that’s real life. This film is messy, but it’s full of love, and I don’t mean that just between me and Sebastian. I mean like love where you spread out and it’s a whole family of people. Greece became a second home for me. It was a really deep, loving experience full of community.
Monday opens in select theaters, digital platforms, and VOD on April 16th
[This interview has been edited for length and clarity]