Published Aug 07, 2015July Talk singer Leah Fay Goldstein is making her acting debut in Diamond Tongues — starting a week-long run at the TIFF Bell Lightbox tonight (August 7) — but she didn't necessarily find her character easy to embrace.
"She's pretty awful," Goldstein tells Exclaim! about Edith Welland, an aspiring Toronto actress afflicted with self-doubt that continues to manifest itself in petty outbursts of jealousy. "But I think it's really rare for female characters to be that human and have that many flaws and be that complicated."
Goldstein first made an impression on directors Brian Robertson and Pavan Moondi (Everyday Is Like Sunday) when July Talk performed at a TIFF party they attended a couple of years ago. After the duo approached her about appearing in the film, Goldstein was apprehensive enough about agreeing to do it that she made a pact with Moondi.
"I said to Pavan, 'If I'm really bad at this, you have to let me know and you have to fire me and find someone else,'" she says. "And he agreed, and then he later told me that he was lying when he agreed and there was no way he was going to be honest with me, because obviously there's funding and there's scheduling and all those things involved."
Her comfort level was enhanced by the fact that she had bandmate Peter Dreimanis serving as cinematographer on the film. "He's been making films since he was 15. He was way more experienced with what he was doing than I was," Goldstein says. "I'm not sure that either of us would have been able to commit to doing the film without the other person."
While she found it difficult to identify with the kind of alienating envy Edith unabashedly exudes, Goldstein was intrigued by the way the character resisted Hollywood's recent trends in representing females on screen. "I think there's been an attempt to have characters that are more relatable to a female audience by making women out to be more human by doing the things that happen in comedies with male protagonists," Goldstein says. "Where it's like there's a lot of dick jokes and a lot of fart jokes. And instead of that, there's still a lot of fart jokes, but now there's also a lot of vagina jokes and shit like that."
When the film had its world premiere at Slamdance in January, Goldstein experienced culture shock at how different the worlds of music and film can be. Accustomed to a typical festival consisting mostly of performing and partying, she was taken aback by the incessant networking and didn't always like the people she'd meet.
"They just immediately looked at me with this weird, belittling, patronizing smile and they were like, 'Oh, good for you. You starred in a film.' As if this were my life-long dream and all of my whole life depended on what they thought of me."
But lest anyone be worried that Goldstein is considering quitting her day job, have no fear — July Talk's currently in the process of writing a new album. "We've got a bunch of songs and we're hoping to go into the studio in September," she says. "Hopefully, a single will be out by sometime in the winter early next year. And we're very excited about it."