Julia Garner On Grandma: "You're Going To Have The Abortion."

Photo: Jim Smeal/BEImages.
Julia Garner’s movie Grandma makes the young actress marvel at the power of women. “Every time I watch the film I learn, like, wow, women are really amazing,” she says in an interview earlier this week. “They’re so different and unique and strong. A strong woman is so powerful.”

Indeed we are. Grandma is so honest about the female experience that you may find yourself surprised that it was written and directed by a man, Paul Weitz (About A Boy).

The up-and-coming Garner (whom you might recognize from FX's The Americans) plays Sage, a teenager who seeks out her lesbian poet grandmother Elle (Lily Tomlin), to help her scrape together the money to pay for an abortion. Sage has an appointment scheduled for later in the day, but Elle happens to have cut up all her credit cards and paid off her debts, and can't float her granddaughter a loan. The two try to contact a friend of Elle’s (Laverne Cox), who owes her money; attempt to sell Elle’s copies of texts like The Feminine Mystique; and visit an old male flame of Elle’s (Sam Elliott). They also encounter the girlfriend Elle just broke up with. She's played by Judy Greer, who finally gets her cinematic due after a rough summer on the big screen. Spoiler alert: Sage ends up getting the abortion. Her decision is carefully considered, and the movie passes no judgment on her. The film, which premiered at Sundance, has drawn comparisons to last year’s Obvious Child, which also featured a woman going through with an abortion.

“They usually just have the kid in the movie,” Garner says. “It’s like, realistically, you’re not going to have the kid. You’re going to have an abortion. I just really liked how Paul did it. He was very realistic about it.”

Realistic isn’t a word that comes to mind when we meet Garner. Her normally platinum blonde curls were dyed a dark, maroon color for her role in the upcoming drama Tomato Red, which she had just wrapped. But of her Grandma character, Garner says, “Any girl can relate to Sage. She’s going through something that every girl can go through.” Also, Sage doesn't let the abortion define her. “The movie, at the end of the day, is not about abortion,” Garner says. "It’s about generations of women learning about one another and finding their shared history."

Garner spends much of the movie next to the legendary Tomlin in the passenger seat of a luxurious car. In the context of the film, the 1995 Dodge Royal belonged to Elle’s deceased partner Violet, although the car, in real life, belongs to Tomlin. Did Garner, a New York City native, get behind the wheel herself? Nope. This city girl doesn’t drive.

“I need to learn how to drive,” she says, sheepishly. “A lot of the movies that I’m in, I’m always in a car. I’m like, this is a sign.”

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