Olivia Munn has starred in several movies and TV shows, including Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom, X-Men: Apocalypse, and The Lego Ninjago Movie. With plenty more work on the horizon, she’s currently starring in the Netflix comedy Love Wedding Repeat, in which she plays an American war journalist who reconnects with her former roommate’s brother at a lavish wedding. She spoke to me about the effects of the pandemic on her life.
How are you coping with this new reality?
I am doing well now but I went through a downswing a month or so back. I had two friends who passed away suddenly right when the quarantine started. Not due to the virus. My girlfriend passed away from complications after the delivery of her first baby. It was shocking. Then a week and a half later my best friend from high school suddenly passed away from cancer. It was a very surreal time because I wasn’t able to grieve properly and do the things you normally do, like hugging the family or hold the new baby. It leaves things feeling very undone, so it has been tough.
How are you doing now?
I kind of got into my own rhythm again. In the last two weeks, I’ve been getting up every day and working out, no matter how I am feeling. That was a big change for me to force myself to do that every day. I am using this time now to recalibrate my life. I’m doing the things I've always wanted to do but didn’t because life kind of gets in the way. It takes time to create that pattern and push yourself through it because I usually come up with a lot of excuses. So now I'm saying, “I'm going to wake up every day, I'm going to meditate for 10 minutes and I'm going to work out.” And even if I don't do a good job, I'm giving myself this time to recalibrate my life to basically figure out a new system for myself, and that even includes organizing my house. So whether it’s my brain or my body or the way my house is organized, I try to get everything in a place where I've always wanted to get to.
Your Netflix film Love Wedding Repeat takes place in Rome, Italy. What was it like filming there?
We filmed in Rome in this 17th-century castle that was in the city of Frascati, which is 13 miles outside of Rome. The wedding takes place inside that castle. The majority of the crew was Italian. It was amazing to walk out of your hotel room and be in this amazing city where you look around and there's so much culture, amazing food, and life around you. And then you film and work every day, it was a dream scenario for me.
The film explores the power of chance versus fate when it comes to love. What do you believe in?
I don't believe that everything is written in the stars. There are some people who say whatever happens happens or if it’s meant to be. I don't necessarily subscribe to that, because I think it takes out agency. I don’t believe you buckle up on a ride and just let it take you somewhere. I believe our choices and our decisions affect our lives and I don't like the idea that it's all destiny and chance and written in the stars. I like to think that you stay alert, you stay prepared and keep working on yourself so that you know you're living your best life, no matter who comes in or who leaves.
More people than ever chose binge-watching as their preferred means of coping with self-isolation. Are you one of them?
I don't typically do that but because of the quarantine, I binge-watched Ozark, which was amazing. I love that show so much. And then I started watching a reality show called 90 Day Fiancé on TLC. It's a very popular show, which I had no idea about. It’s about these people who meet people online from other countries who want to become an American citizen. So they meet and fall in love online, then meet in person for the first time and basically propose to them or not. It’s really crazy. If someone wrote this as a scripted series, people would think it was too far-fetched and over the top. I don't watch a lot of reality shows but this one has been captivating because I can't understand these people.
You have two projects coming up. What can you tell us about them?
The Gateway is a suspense thriller that touches on family dynamics and the American prison system directed by Michele Civetta. It’s a great film with Shea Whigham and Bruce Dern. The other film is called Violet, which was affected by the pandemic because we were supposed to premiere at South by Southwest, which was shut down at the last second. We were in the competition and I don't think people understood at the time how dangerous it would be. Justine Bateman directed that film and she did an amazing job. I play Violet and Justin Theroux plays the voice in my head and it's about the voice in our head that basically tells us that we're not good and not smart enough. My character is very successful but her biggest nemesis is the voice inside of her head constantly telling her to take a few steps backward. I thought it was a beautiful script and I love what Justine did with the movie.
How do you envision the future of the entertainment industry post-pandemic?
I'm sure things will be very different. I heard that some countries like Sweden are still doing productions but as far as the US is concerned, I believe we have to be a lot safer and have more social distancing. I can’t imagine award shows or festivals at this point. We have to flatten the curve first, get things safe, and then figure out everything else on the other side.