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Interview: Reed Birney Chats About Crafting His Character in ‘Mass’

It would be so easy to discount what Reed Birney does in Mass. The quietest character, Birney has to portray WASP-y stoicism. Of course, considering the subject matter that Fran Kranz‘s film is trafficking in, his performance could easily be lost in the shuffle. Especially considering how amazing Ann Dowd is next to him (not to mention Jason Isaacs and Martha Plimpton, and their interviews are coming this weekend), forgetting how good Birney is could certainly happen. That would be a disservice to him, since this is perhaps the hardest role in the film. Luckily, Birney was not only happy to talk about it all, but a really jovial guy. Excuse some of the sound quality, but the content more than makes up for it. I spoke to Dowd here and Kranz here, but today, it’s Birney’s turn to talk Mass. You can hear that next, and folks…it’s another good one.

Below, you can hear my chat with Birney. Not only was it touching to know that he’s aware of my support for the movie, he had some really fascinating things to say about it. Mass is the type of flick that urges a discussion, so continuing that discussion with the cast has been a pleasure. Plus, getting to tell him that story about seeing him in the same Trailer all the time was genuinely amusing and satisfying, in equal measure.

Once again, in case you didn’t read my rave review out of the Sundance Film Festival, here is a bit of my thoughts on the movie:

The four principle characters in Mass are individuals you hope you never have to personally identify with. They’re each going through incredible grief and pain, having suffered unimaginable loss. The cost and toll on themselves has been terrible. There isn’t even necessarily a light at the end of the tunnel. And yet, they go on, because they must. The emotions of that feeling are brilliantly captured in this film, easily the best movie I’ve seen this year at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. What writer/director Fran Kranz, along with his cast, achieves here is nothing short of staggering. It may prove to be difficult to convince audiences to seek this one out, but if handled correctly, it’s an awards player down the line.

These are four of the best performances you’ll see in 2021. Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, and Martha Plimpton never once hit a wrong note. Dowd, Isaacs, and Plimpton especially have some strong showcases in the second half. Birney stays more composed than the other three, doing some heavy lifting in his own way, but it’s no less of a remarkable turn. At the same time, this is arguably the best work from everyone in the cast. Dowd is maternal and kind, belying the boy she raised. Isaacs is all passion, needing to find answers and confessions. Then, there’s Plimpton, who enters unsure if she can forgive these people. Watching her face as she takes everything in will break your heart. Isaacs’ fury will stick with you, but so too will some of Plimpton’s final moments. Each of them leaves a mark, to be sure.

Bleecker Street

Here now is my interview with Mass star Reed Birney. Enjoy:

Mass is now in theaters!

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Written by Joey Magidson

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