'6 Years' Is the Unscripted Love Story Everyone's Talking About

Love is the world’s oldest muse. From myths of ancient Greece to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (which created the prompt for every love story there on), and even The Beatles’ repertoire (which used the word love a whopping 613 times), it seems that the cliché is true: love really does make the world go round. So how do we keep making it different? Well, Hannah Fidell’s 6 Years tells us that when it comes to telling a love story, honesty and simplicity work best.

The film, starring newcomer Ben Rosenfield and everyone’s favorite American Horror Story alumni Taissa Farmiga, dissects the down spiraling of a couple in their early 20s who have been dating for – you guessed it – six years. Reminiscent of Blue Valentine’s realistic portrayal of losing and abusing love, Farmiga and Rosenfield deliver chilling performances that are made even more incredible once knowing that the film is unscripted. With the recent release of the film on Netflix, Milk’s Ana Velasco chatted with the budding stars on the freedom of improv, accounting, and professional whistling.

What drew you to choose this film?

Taissa Farmiga: I loved how relatable the story was. I loved that it was a tale of these two young people trying to learn how to communicate and deal with growing up, and trying to be an adult when they still kind of feel like a kid, but they don’t feel like a kid – you know that post-adolescence transformation. I liked playing a character like Mel because I was a similar age and I could understand her, and it’s nice playing those characters because it kind of helps me grow up.

Ben Rosenfield: I had a very similar reaction when I read the script. I found it incredibly relatable, not only to me but to a lot of experiences my friends have had over the past few years since graduating high school. And also the fact that I knew the film was gonna be largely improvised was a hugely exciting factor.

Taissa, you’ve been in ‘American Horror Story’, and Ben, you’ve been in ‘Boardwalk Empire’, which are both very specific shows with a semblance of fantasy. How was it different to prepare for a film that is this relatable, compared to something that is more fantastical?

BR: I found that the preparation was more about getting your head in the right place, less about building up a character who’s a total transformation from who you are. I was willing to let a lot of myself be in this character, whereas a lot of the time I look for characters that are very far removed from who I actually am.
TF: I think I was more nervous about the improv and how we’d have to bring a lot of ourselves into the character just because we want it to stem from a real place. We wanted to be truthful and it’s hard if you don’t have the dialogue written out for you to base it on a completely different character, you have to base it on yourself. I think preparing the backstory and getting to know these characters was most of the work we did in pre-production.

I love the fact that the movie is outlined but unscripted. Is it more freeing or more difficult to have this acting method?

TF: It’s very freeing. It’s absolutely freeing. It’s nice to go on the scene and have your guidelines of, ‘this is the information you need to get across,’ but there’s something so nice about just going in there and having control but also not having control – because you don’t know what’s going to come out of your mouth when you’re in the heat of the moment, especially in the emotional and difficult scenes. Usually everything’s more rigid and you know what to expect, and it’s nice to be spontaneous.

I think that it shines through with the chemistry that you two have. This movie shows different aspects of abuse, both psychological and physical, but what do you think was the most abusive part?

BR: I think the difficulty that Dan and Mel had was communicating with each other on a verbal level. It was the most damaging part and was kind of the reason why all the physical stuff happens.

The film ends open-ended, although leaning more to the idea that they break up. What do you think was Fidell’s intention by doing this?

BR: I think her intention was to not make a judgment about the story and to just allow it to be the story and let the audience have their own feelings and not tie it up with a bow and say, ‘this is the end of the story and this is what it means.’

TF: We were trying to portray this romance and life as truthfully as possible. We don’t know what’s coming next in life, it’s always a surprise or something unexpected, and I think that’s where Mel and Dan end up – we don’t know, so you gotta see it how you see it for yourself.

If you weren’t actors, what do you think you’d be? 

BR: I’d either be homeless or living with my parents (laughs).

TF: I love math and numbers. I’d probably be an accountant in an office every day 9 to 5, and I’d probably still love it. But I’m very happy as an actress, I hope that doesn’t change.

This film revolves a lot around music. What have you been listening to lately? 

BR: I’ve been listening a lot to this guy called Alex G – he rocks. And I’ve also been listening to a lot of Sonic Youth and Julee Cruise, who does the David Lynch music.

What other projects are you working on now?

TF: Right now I’m in Los Angeles, I just started working on this TV show for ABC called Wicked City, which is fun because it’s shot in the early 80’s. I’m pretty pumped.

BR: I actually just finished recording an album, which hopefully we’ll be releasing in the fall or winter. In the fall I’m shooting a film in New York called Human People directed by Dustin Guy Defa.

What film or actor made you want to become actors?

BR: I was just watching The Bicycle Thief last night, and that’s definitely a movie that made me want to be an actor. And also Duck Soup by the Marx Brothers. And Rocky (laughs).

TF: My journey was kind of weird. Acting was kind of thrust upon me because my older sister [Vera Farmiga] is an actress and I think she’s incredible. She threw me in her directorial debut movie, and it kind of went from there. I liked acting but I went back to my normal life, and then I got invited to Sundance and it took off from there. I decided to test it out and see how it goes and then I fell in love with it. It’s about exploring different people and different parts of myself.

Do you have a hidden talent that not many people know about?

TF: I can whistle really well, from what I’m told.

BR: It’s true. Professional whistler! Uh…I got a pretty good jump shot.

TF: I’ve never seen it, I can’t confirm it.


‘6 Years’ is streaming on Netflix now

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