Katie Aselton, Dax Shepard Deliver ‘The Freebie’17 Dec, 2010 By: Billy Gil
A one-night stand seven years into marriage is proposed as the solution to a couple’s doldrums in The Freebie, coming to DVD Jan. 11 ($29.99) from Phase 4 Films.
Katie Aselton, a former Miss Teen USA contestant and current writer, director and actress, said the idea for the movie came to her while shooting the breeze with a friend.
“When you're having a glass of wine with a friend, those are the sort of things you talk about,” she said. “The point of what we were talking about was, ‘Remember how easy it was to be single ... and you could just be whoever you wanted to be?’ When you're in a relationship, you owe it to that person to talk over every single thing. Sometimes you just want to give your husband a fake phone number and say, ‘Don't call me.’”
Aselton was looking for something to sink her teeth into after not getting the kind of experience she wanted to as an actress. Her husband, Mark Duplass (writer/director of Cyrus, with brother Jay Duplass), suggested taking his approach — if you’re not getting the projects you want, come up with your own.
“I was just a frustrated actor who was just sitting around,” said Aselton, who may be exaggerating a bit — she and her husband co-star FX’s fantasy football TV show “The League.” “My husband, who’s a big do-it-yourselfer just said, ‘You should just do it on your own!’”
Aselton said everything fell into place from there, with Aselton in the lead actress role, but casting her male counterpart proved more difficult after the first actor didn’t work out. Dax Shepard of “Punk’d” fame came on board at the 11th hour. His addition proved crucial, as his performance has been garnering rave reviews after the film aired at Sundance.
“I met Katie for the first time about five hours before we started shooting,” Shepard said. “Our second day of filming was all of our intimate, bedroom scenes. I have no explanation as to why we had good chemistry, but I know that if we hadn't, the movie would have been very flat.
“We got lucky. She's awfully cute though, so that certainly helps.”
The situation for The Freebie’s Annie (Aselton) and Darren (Shepard) doesn’t quite go as planned, but Shepard thinks it could work for some couples.
“There are a couple billion relationships happening around the world, and I'm sure every conceivable permutation is being played out somewhere,” he said. “I don't think there is a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to love someone.”
Despite coming up with the concept, Aselton is dubious of the prospect of infidelity working to strengthen a couple’s relationship.
“Beyond that first night, it's work after that,” Aselton said. “One night away from what you have now is probably not worth it, especially if you like what you have. The idea of exploring this couple that is sort of over-therapied in their own minds, where they think they are the couple who could completely sort of challenge tradition and monogamy and social ideas and they’re the ones who could rise above and beyond all that — I liked watching them fall on their ass.”
Of the DVD release, Aselton said home video means “everything” to independent films such as this one.
“Most of these small films, that’s where their life is,” she said. “It's hard to do well theatrically in the market today. For the most part, most of us do a theatrical release so we can get great reviews for a DVD release because that really is where we will find our audience. I think if people are going to be spending $14 for a movie, you're going to want to go see big productions … you're gonna see Inception.
“Unless you are a part of the small few who want to support independent film, you're going want to get your money's worth and then you'll save these small movies for the small screen.”
The Freebie DVD includes a commentary with Aselton and Shepard.