Mena Suvari sat down with MiNDFOOD in the upscale Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills to chat about the past, the present, and fame.
Suvari has been turning heads for her flawless beauty and effortless talent since the late 1990s. From the cult hit American Pie to her SAG award-winning performance in American Beauty, Suvari continues her ‘American’ standard and stars alongside fellow 90s icon, Alicia Silverstone, on Paramount Network’s new TV show, American Woman.
Back to the 70’s
Inspired by the upbringing of co-executive producer and Real Housewife of Beverly Hills Kyle Richards, the series follows an unconventional mom named Bonnie (Alicia Silverstone) struggling to raise her daughters with the help of her two best friends Kathleen (Mena Suvari) and Diana (Jennifer Bartels) as they discover their own brand of independence amid the rise of second-wave feminism in the 1970s.
Taking a journey back in time to 1970s America, to understand the energy and the environment of the time is how Suvari approached the new drama comedy. “I’ve been wanting to work a lot in a dramedy, in a comedic space. But I think because it’s also set in 1975 in Beverly Hills, and that whole aesthetic that I’ve always loved, a period that’s my favourite, that really got me,” says the actress. She channeled her mother’s experience of being married at 20 and raising kids during this time to get into the role. “Working on the show gave me the opportunity to think about what she possibly came up against,” says Suvari.
Friends versus fame
Suvari, who previously worked together with Silverstone on a film called Beauty Shop earlier in the 2000s, says that the series is timeless and explores the nature of friendship between women. “I think this is something that I find so beautiful about the show, the friendship that these women have, and the way that they complement one another. I think it really does cater to everyone.”
The American beauty, who clearly has a thing for her country with titles such as American Pie, American Beauty, and now American Woman, under her belt, says that all good things are called American.
As in American Woman, Suvari says that she too has a good group of girlfriends that keep her sane and give her the opportunity to just be herself and figure out who that person is. Admitting that she is still not quite so sure about this fame thing, saying her friends have helped her stay grounded. “I think I’m still dealing with [fame]. It’s a very unusual thing and it sort of puts you in the position where you’re trying to figure out who you are and what you want to do. And that happened for me at sort of an early age. I was 19, 20. So it was a little strange because it’s always been about the work. It’s never been about attaining some kind of fame or celebrity. I hate that word; I don’t even know what it means,” she says.
Suvari says that she’s always been the most passionate about the work that she does, so as an artist is always looking to create. “I feel really blessed and lucky that I’m still able to do what I love to do so much, and I really hope to continue to develop more.”