TORONTO – Irish actress Eve Hewson says she honed a discerning eye for film projects at an early age, by critiquing the songs and set lists of her famous dad Paul Hewson, a.k.a. Bono.
“One of the reasons I think I’m sort of good at picking projects and picking directors and finding the right roles is because I grew up a part of the conversation with my dad’s music and their shows,” Hewson says by phone from New York, casually dropping a reference to her dad’s super group — U2.
“Ever since we were kids he would always ask me and my sister: ‘What do you think? Did you like this song? Do you like that chorus? Did you like that set list?’ We’ve always been encouraged to develop our own opinions and so I’ve been able to, hopefully, bring that into my own career.”
Hewson is on her way to becoming star in her own right.
In addition to her TV breakout in the defunct period saga “The Knick,” she’s notched a variety of film credits, including the Steven Spielberg drama “Bridge of Spies” and the Nicole Holofcener romantic comedy “Enough Said.”
This Friday she stars in the coming-of-age tale “Paper Year,” the feature directorial debut of Canadian writer/director Rebecca Addelman.
Hewson plays 22-year-old Franny, an aspiring TV writer and newlywed, while her new husband is aspiring actor Dan, played by Vancouver’s Avan Jogia. Andie MacDowell co-stars as Franny’s wary mother and Hamish Linklater is a fellow scribe who takes Franny under his wing when she lands her first writing gig.
The Ottawa-born Addelman, who honed her comedic skills in Toronto before moving to Los Angeles, says the story was inspired by her own experience marrying young, although the specific ways the characters act out has been dramatized.
“We were in such a vulnerable spot in life, you know,” says Addelman, who was 25 when she got engaged to her 22-year-old boyfriend.
“We didn’t have money, our careers weren’t going yet, we just had dreams. And we had a lot of hope. And we were clinging to that, which is a perfectly fine thing to cling to, it can give you a lot. But we were obviously so unformed in terms of everything — who we were as people, where we were going in life.”
Franny’s personal turmoil comes as she scores a job as a writer on a reality-TV competition series. Within minutes of her first day she’s objectified by her new male co-workers, and learns that her sexual appeal is a form of office currency.
Addelman says that, too, was drawn from her own work experience in Hollywood, which has included various stints writing and producing TV comedies including Adult Swim’s “China, IL,” Fox’s “New Girl,” and the Judd Apatow-created Netflix series “Love.”
She’s been the sole woman on staff several times, and recalls the advice a female colleague once gave her: “Make sure someone here always wants to (have sex with) you.”
“It was like, if someone here finds you sexy, you’re going to have an easier time being listened to. And she wasn’t wrong,” says Addelman, who recently joined the writing staff of the upcoming Netflix series “Dead To Me.”
“It’s changing. I started a new job and I currently work in a writers’ room that’s basically six women, one gay man, one straight man and the woman who is running the show, and the creator is a wonderful gay woman herself. That’s not a job where anyone needs to be sexy. It’s just not. It’s very different in how we all interact.”
Hewson, too, sees an opportunity to be part of that change, noting she’s passed on many scripts because of the way they portrayed women. She’d like to move into the producer’s chair one day, and bringing more women into the industry would be part of her mission.
“There’s strength in numbers and I definitely would like to work with more female directors, also more female writers, female producers,” says Hewson, who is also set to appear as Maid Marian in the “Robin Hood” reboot later this year.
“Now that people are starting to pay attention to equality in the industry because they have to, over the next few years I think we’ll start to see a lot of really talented female filmmakers rise up the ranks.”
“Paper Year” opens Friday in Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa.