Film Scouts and Newsweek at Sundance 1999

Heather Matarazzo on "Getting to Know You"

by Andréa C. Basora
Heather Matarazzo has grown up. Gone is the pre-teen awkwardness that made her portrayal of Dawn in "Welcome to the Dollhouse" such a terrifying success. Now 16, she brings impressive sensitivity to her new film, "Getting to Know You," an adaptation of of a series of short stories by Joyce Carol Oates. She plays Judith, the central consciousness of the film, and reflected on this new moment in her career in an interview with Excerpts:

On making "Getting to Know You:" It was a great experience...I'm so happy and proud to be a part of this story because it's one, that to me personally, needs to be told. People have to realize that whether they like it or not, they have a story to tell, and whether they want to share it with the world or not is up to them. I loved the characters, and I especially loved the short stories that Joyce Carol Oates wrote...and what I also loved was working with Bebe. Bebe Neuwirth is amazing. To watch her work and perform is just jaw-dropping. It's awe-inspiring, and makes you want to go to work each morning. Me and Bebe had this connection off-set and on-set that was really cool. And the relationship between Judith and Trix is so genuine. You don't see a relationship between mother and daughter like that...Actually, I've never seen one like this, and the way Lisanne [Skyler, the director and co-writer] and Tristine [Skyler, the co- writer] wrote it, it was so beautifully done.

On her character: There are a lot of similarities between me and Judith. It wasn't that hard to do the scenes. I mean, it was an emotional whirlwind everyday. It was the most intense set - I'm surprised I didn't have a breakdown, that everybody didn't have a breakdown.

On the aftermath of "Welcome to the Dollhouse:" After "Welcome to the Dollhouse," a lot of scripts did come, but that experience was overwhelming. I didn't know it was controversial at all, in regards that I was only eleven and a half when I made it and I really didn't know what Todd [Solendz] was doing - I was just going to work. Over the course of the couple of years since I've done the film, I've matured to an extent and I can now look back on the film and see why it was controversial. I don't think you can compare any film to "Dollhouse" and there's not going to be another film like it. It was hard, you know, because kids can be vicious and they can be cruel. They can be very fickle - nice to you one minute and mean the next. That goes without saying for any teenager in high school or junior high, but especially if you're an actress and you make a film such as that where you get ridiculed onscreen. Kids feed off of that to riducule you offscreen. People would call me 'Wienerdog." I wouldn't fight it, I'd just ignore it because I hate provoking arguments.

Back to the 1999 Sundance Film Festival Interviews

Back to Interviews

Look for Search Tips

Copyright 1994-2008 Film Scouts LLC
Created, produced, and published by Film Scouts LLC
Film Scouts® is a registered trademark of Film Scouts LLC
All rights reserved.

Suggestions? Comments? Fill out our Feedback Form.