Love can be blissful. But, it can also be complicated. In fact, it’s these complications that have made for some of the most interesting storylines in the movies. They’ve even coined their own genre – the romantic-comedy or rom-com.
The new indie feature film, “Toss It,”
is taking things a step further by showcasing a seriously entangled love dilemma in a way that delivers it as an ‘anti-romantic comedy’ way. The film and its stars are quickly emerging fan-favs on the festival circuit, including rising actress Jenny Zerke
. She steps into the story as Marie, a crazy best friend to confess her love and throw another monkey wrench into this contemporary screwball comedy maze.
A Houston, Texas native now based in New York City, Jenny has been gaining attention on the festival circuit for her work in this film and in the short “Silly String Forever.”
I recently had a chance to catch up with Jenny Zerke to find out more:
Tell us about your role in new indie film “Toss It.”
JENNY ZERKE: Toss It is an anti-romantic comedy that questions everything. And Marie is the wild card of the film who basically says and does whatever she wants. Without giving away too much, I can say that Marie acts out in revenge in the beginning of the film at her best friend’s wedding, and this is what sets off the basic conflict of the rest of the story. She also provides some profound advice and observations for the other characters.
What would you consider your characters ‘best’ quality? And their ‘worst’?
JZ: Marie is a searcher. She’s not satisfied with just going along with the status quo, and she’s always looking beneath the surface of things. She’s deeply committed to living her life to the fullest and not letting opportunities pass her by. And that’s really exciting in a character. She pushes herself to be completely true to herself and say EVERYTHING she wants to say in a way most people would NEVER do, even if it’s terrifying for her. It’s incredibly important to her to be authentic.
But that can bleed over into some not so great qualities because she takes that brutal honesty so far. She says and does things in spite of the fact that she knows it will create painfully awkward situations and chaos in the lives of people she loves.
Any interesting stories from the set you can share with us?
JZ: It was really wonderful to have gotten a chance to act with Malachy McCourt—he’s a legend. In addition to being a great actor, he’s also a best-selling author and he’s run for governor of New York. His life is so interesting, and he has tons of wild, wonderful stories that he would tell us on set. And he’s an amazing human being. Working with him will always be a highlight for me.
What’s the biggest lesson you learned from working on this film?
JZ: Marie goes through some really painful emotional experiences in the film, and I think the biggest learning experience (and challenge) was figuring out how to do her justice as a character dramatically while also keeping the comedic elements intact. Michele's writing is really hilarious and layered, so I wanted to hit the comedy of it while also creating a complex and multifaceted character. It’s a balance actors often work to find, and that was especially the case with Marie.
Lastly, have you ever been in a love dilemma?
JZ: Oh yes! I probably shouldn't elaborate.
And, now just for fun:
Who’s your favorite actor/actress?
JZ: There are so many. But today I'm going to say Helen Mirren.
What role from the past do you wish you could have played?
JZ: If they make another movie of “Much Ado About Nothing,” I’d love to play Beatrice. She’s one of the best female roles ever written.
Favorite movie or TV show from your childhood?
JZ: I loved “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” growing up and watched it over and over again. (If you haven’t seen it, it’s a comedy about two incredibly glamorous and incredibly scrappy women.) I probably absorbed a lot of lessons about comedic timing from watching Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell. They're absolute perfection.
Tell us one thing that would surprise our readers to learn about you.
JZ: Well, my family is the proud ‘adopters’ of two orphaned baby elephants (named Malkia and Luggard) at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya. There’s a huge poaching crisis going on in Africa right now, and the DSWT is an amazing organization that rescues baby elephants who have been orphaned due to human wildlife conflict and raises them until they are old enough to move back into the wild. I highly recommend following them on Instagram @dswt. Their daily photos of elephant cuteness are the best.
How can fans keep up with you?
JZ: You can follow me on Instagram @zerke.jenny link
and on Twitter @jennyzerke link
I also post updates on my website jennyzerke.com link
Jenny Zerke in "Toss It"
"Toss It" - still image
Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival - red carpet