“There’s freedom within limits.” That’s how Tanna Frederick describes working with independent film guru Henry Jaglom on the new film Irene in Time, a story of a woman trying to come to grips with the problematic relationship with her father.
Jaglom, who uses very quick, improvisational techniques in his films, offered Frederick the title role after working with her several times before in both film and theater. “With Henry’s films, you film them so quickly,” Frederick says of Jaglom’s maverick style. “There’s never really any breathing room, so you’re just living this life of this person for three weeks straight, and you’re trying to slam out the scenes and get it done.”
This style allowed Frederick to become more vulnerable as a character in the film, in which her character plays a neurotic, chronic dater in the L.A. scene. “It’s a story about fathers and daughters and how that relationship plays itself out on women’s lives and their choices regarding men – or women – throughout their lives,” Frederick says. “It’ looks at that powerful love between a father and daughter that transcends time.”
Similarly, Frederick had to draw from others’ experiences as neurotic daters in research for the film. “I more of a guy girl. I don’t play games. I’m usually the one who’ll cut it off on the first date if it’s not going to happen,” she says.
In fact, to prepare for her role, Frederick ordered a slew of dating books from Amazon. “There are all these horrible, neurotic books out there,” she says, including the inspiration for the hit film He’s Just Not That Into You. “After reading them, I was second-guessing everything I did. That helped me play a nutso on these dates because these books make you crazy.”
Frederick’s story is one of Hollywood Dreams, to quote the title of one of her first starring roles with Jaglom. An Iowa girl, she drove her Honda Civic cross country for a shot at stardom in L.A. “I broke down in Denver. Kept going. Drove 35 miles over the mountains. It was really terrifying. Slept on people’s floors while I was trying to find a waitressing job,” she says of her experience. “I did that whole thing.”
Then, while working tables in L.A., she got to know Jaglom and wooed him with a flattering letter about his film Deja Vu. “We just clicked from there,” she says. Over the years, she has been called Jaglom’s muse, having appeared in several of his films.
“Some people have called me that,” she says. “I do consider myself his muse, but I think it’s a kind of interesting relationship because I consider Henry my muse.”
Frederick realizes that in many of his films, she finds herself playing a version of Henry. “I feel that Henry and I have a great symbiotic relationship with him having a vision of what to do and me interpreting that,” she says. “That’s what we search for as actors. What personality can we glom onto.”
Frederick stars in the independent release Irene in Time, currently in limited release.