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An Interview with Sasha Grey of I Melt With You

This year saw Sasha Grey devote her full career to mainstream acting. Maxim managed to raise our voice above the wails of ten million pornography fans to ask her a few questions about her nonstop work load, why alligator tastes different from crocodile, and what it's like to play the merifcul (and naked) personification of death in her latest film, I Melt with You. The Sundance debut stars Thomas Jane, Rob Lowe, Christian McKay, and Grey's Entourage costar Jeremy Piven as four friends whose annual retreat to a week of drugs and partying turns dark and deadly.

Maxim: Acting recently became your fulltime career. Was that something you decided to do or did it find you with The Girlfriend Experience and you surfed the wave since?

Sasha: The Girlfriend Experience was definitely the break-out. When it came out, I started getting other opportunities. And that’s when I decided to dedicate all my time to pursuing acting and quit doing adult films.

Maxim: And has the film industry been receptive?

Sasha: Yeah for the most part everybody’s been really supportive, and I get a lot of really good feedback and networking going on auditions just like everybody else.

Maxim: You just got back from Bangkok, right? What were you doing out there?

Sasha: I was shooting a special for G4TV. We explored the culture of Bangkok and what it’s like to be a tourist there.

Maxim: So you got to do some Hangover shenanigans?

Sasha: Oh, not that crazy but we did get to see this crocodile farm. It’s actually in Pattaya, which is south of Bangkok, and they had all these different animals there, and that was probably one of the cooler things we did. Because I actually sat on a crocodile! I still can’t believe I did it.

Maxim: Lucky crocodile. Did you get to feed one?

Sasha: Yeah, they had a chicken on a bamboo pole.

Maxim: Have you ever eaten crocodile?

Sasha: I took a bite there, and it was the most guilty feeling of ever eating an animal because I fed one, then sat on one, and they had a restaurant right there. It’s like, “Why is that? Take one of these crocodiles and feed them to us.”

Maxim: Yeah, but it helps when the animal would eat you too.

Sasha: No, no. I prefer alligator.

Maxim: What’s the difference?

Sasha: In my experience, it just tastes better. It’s not as chewy. It could have been the way they cooked it though, right?

Maxim: What do you have going on besides acting? Any new music?

Sasha: Yeah, aTelecine, we’re releasing a trilogy coming out in December, so we’re just starting the third album of that trilogy, released on vinyl, a special edition—actually a limited edition boxed set—and of course on iTunes as well. That comes out in December and I did a voice for Saints Row 3, the video game. Pretty cool. And I just wrapped a film this summer called Would You Rather? with Brittany and that’s coming out next year.

Maxim: You’ve got a lot of irons in the fire. Do you ever feel overextended?

Sasha: No I don’t. I like to work. I don’t like to have lulls. I feel like it makes me lazy and uncreative and that’s when your ideas become stagnant. If I’m always involved in a project or something creative then my ideas stay fresh and new, and I really enjoy that part.

Maxim: Do you have any other creative talents?

Sasha: Possibly, but that’s for me to know. [laughs]

Maxim: What interests of yours would it surprise people to learn of?

Sasha: I’m pretty much an open book. I write screenplays with a few other writing partners. As far as the band goes, that stems from the fact that I’ve written poetry from a pretty young age. So to me it’s a progression of that, I guess you could say, in part.

Maxim: So in this film, I Melt with You, what’s it like to be in the world’s most existential threesome?

Sasha: [laughs] It was pretty rad. You know I got, it was kind of a last-minute audition and they called me in, so I hadn’t even read the script yet. After the audition I went home and read the entire script, which you can imagine was very lengthy. It wasn’t a traditional 90 or 95-page script. I did some work on my own, and I met with [producer] Mark Pellington once before we went into production. On the set I learned that it wasn’t a face-value character. She becomes a grim reaper, so that was something I learned on the spot and I talked to Mark because you’re shooting that particular scene for well over 3 hours so we had a lot of time to discuss as we’re shooting. I thought that was really cool because we were able to take our time and explore that scene and develop it.

Maxim: How was it on the set? Were people lost in the somber tone or were they trying to keep their spirits up when the camera was off?

Sasha: When all of the 20-something’s were there—when we were all there together it was very high energy because that’s where they were at the filming point, but after we left I know that definitely changed. Yeah, it was pretty difficult because we were shooting nights. So we would start around 7 and finish way into the morning. There would be low points where people would be taking naps and I was just trying to keep bouncing in place during the dancing scene in between [shots] because I didn’t want to fall asleep.

Maxim: Yeah it was a, it took me a little bit by surprise. It’s not the movie you’d expect with three people from Entourage in it.

Sasha: That’s right.

Maxim: When you were doing Entourage it was probably most people’s first exposure to you. Do you think it helped to be playing yourself or did it make it odd? Were you conscious of the impression you were making?

Sasha: Yeah it was something that I definitely had to think a lot about in terms of, “How do people that don’t know me now perceive me?” But I think at the end of the day it was a great opportunity and that’s why I did it, and it’s a character. Anybody that believes that Adrian Grenier’s name is really Vince should probably watch less TV. So yeah, there were a few concerns because I am playing a version of myself, but ultimately the reward was much greater than worrying about that.

Maxim: You’re notoriously well-read. What’s on your nightstand right now?

Sasha: Ooh. I actually need to get something new because my nightstand was filled with Bangkok travel books. The author’s name is Jerry Hopkins. He wrote a biography on The Doors and a few other people, and he’s an expat who now lives in Thailand and he’s been there for years. He has these really cool books and actually really informative—pretty much every five seconds I could pick something out of the book that I’d read, and went, “Oh yeah, you know why they do this?” or “Yeah you know what this means?” It’s called Thailand Confidential.

Maxim: So you entered the country as a seasoned traveler.

Sasha: Or…just acted like it. Yeah.

Maxim: What was the best experience there?

Sasha: I would have to say the crocodiles were pretty cool and…what else? It feels like a blur now because we shot so much footage but obviously the food. I mean you can’t think of Thailand and not think of their food. They have amazing, amazing food there and that was a big plus for me and what else? Oh! I got to take Muay Thai training classes

Maxim: Now you can play an action star.

Sasha: Yeah exactly. We shot a few segments on a helipad, on top of this building overlooking the entire city, and that was really cool. Not something to do if you’re afraid of heights, which luckily I’m not.

Maxim: What kind of role are you looking for, for your next project? Is there something you’d like to move towards?

Sasha: I think I naturally lean more towards drama but I also really want to test my skills in comedy because in my mind some of the best actors come from comedy and started in comedy, and there’s so much you have to give of yourself and you have to be so vulnerable doing that type of work, but I just think it makes you a stronger actor and every other genre. And of course action, that’s the fun thing. I would to kick some ass.

Maxim: What sort of guy do you like?

Sasha: Um, I like funny people. Somebody with a dry sense of humor, especially, because it adds character. I don’t like any one race or look or type of guy. My tastes as far as looks go are very diverse. I like guys with scruffy beards and leather jackets but I also like a clean-cut GQ type guy, so my tastes are very ranged among somebody who laughs at my dumb jokes too. I have plenty of them.

Maxim: But a funny guy might not laugh at dumb jokes.

Sasha: I would say he better learn to pretend and laugh.

Maxim: What would be a great date for you?

Sasha: You know when it comes to romance I’m really simple. I am really a “dinner and a movie” type of person and I love food, so surprise me and order something different or adventurous when it comes to food and I’m like a kid at Halloween. Literally I just love food and I like going to dinner with big groups of people so you can try everything. At the end of the day, I really do like a really nice dinner with a good bottle of wine or scotch and a really good movie.

Maxim: Do you like to cook or just eat?

Sasha: Just eat. I must confess I’m not the best cook. I make a mean salsa as I like hot sauce and you know, tacos because I’m a California kid and that’s about it. That works for me.

Maxim: So the guy’s got to be the good cook.

Sasha: Yes, exactly. That would be a plus.