Julia Fox didn’t have much to say during the post-premiere Q&A of Steven Soderbergh’s ghost story Presence on Friday night, but the brief comments that came out of her mouth got a ton of laughs inside the Library Center Theatre — and maybe a few raised eyebrows.
After the credits rolled well past 11 p.m., moderator and Sundance director Eugene Hernandez asked the cast for their reactions to seeing the film for the first time. Standing in front of the big screen and joined by cast mates Lucy Liu, Chris Sullivan, Callina Liang, Eddy Maday and West Mulholland, Fox took the microphone as it was passed down the line.
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“Traumatized,” she said in offering a one-word reaction while wearing a black sequined dress, leather gloves and a black hoodie with the word “Mom” on the chest. “I hadn’t even read the script, to be honest. But when Steven calls, I trust him blindly. So, here we are, and I’m just going to need a moment to decompress.”
Julia Fox cracks up the Library audience after Presence premiere by saying, “I hadn’t even read the script to be honest. When Steven calls, I trust him blindly so here we are.” #Sundance pic.twitter.com/zzP5QJiVXB
— Chris Gardner (@chrissgardner) January 20, 2024
The audience erupted with laughter at the admission, which was even more surprising as the Q&A featured Soderbergh standing alongside the film’s screenwriter David Koepp, a longtime friend and collaborator of the auteur. The veteran scribe has a long and successful Hollywood résumé that includes blockbusters like Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Panic Room and Spider-Man, just to name a few.
Fox then passed the mic to Sullivan and Liu, the latter of whom said she “didn’t have words.” But she found a few: “I’m such a huge admirer, and I respect both of these artists [Soderbergh and Koepp] so much and to be a part of this incredible movie, I’m devastated, and my body is having reactions that as if I wasn’t in the movie.”
The plot follows a family who moves into a new home only to recognize an unsettling presence in the house. The story was filmed from the point of view of the ghost, with the camera moving throughout the house as the apparition. Fox’s role is brief as she appears at the start of the film playing the realtor who sells the family their home.
Soderbergh was convinced that films shot with a first-person point of view simply would never work. That is, until he made one. “I’ve been very vocal about the fact that [visual reality], one-person point-of-view VR doesn’t work, is never going to work as a narrative,” Soderbergh explained. “I’ve been beating this drum hard for a long time, that it’s never going to work. Then, I’m like, the only way to do it is you never turn around. You never turn around. I’ve been saying for years you have to turn around or it doesn’t work. And now I’m like, or…”
Speaking of turning heads, Fox received loads of attention on Main Street in a series of distinctive ensembles. She walked the bustling block in a black bodysuit with a white bikini over the top, made the press rounds in an all-denim look with a “Mom” belt, oversized and pointed shoulders and a bride’s veil over her head, and turned up at the Presence after party in a pair of DSQUARED2 white leather boots that featured an ice skater’s blade on the bottom and a purse to match by Love is Shouty but Iconic.
Fox, who broke out in the Safdie brothers’ Uncut Gems, next stars in Tony Kaye’s The Trainer.
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