If you spotted a blotchy face and smudged mascara around Park City this week, it was safe to assume that a screening of The End of Love had probably just let out. The film stars Mark Webber, who also wrote the screenplay and directed, as a struggling actor trying to raise his two-year-old son after the death of his wife. Inspired by his split with actress Frankie Shaw and featuring their real-life three-year-old son, the film is only semi-autobiographical; not only is Shaw alive and well, but she too appears in the film. But End of Love is not the only reason that Webber’s name has become ubiquitous around the festival. The actor appears in two other feature films this week: Save the Date with Allison Brie and Lizzy Caplan; and For a Good Time, Call… with Ari Graynor and Lauren Ann Miller. And though all have been well received, it’s Webber’s directorial entry into the competition that has Sundance audiences buzzing.
Amidst a hectic schedule of promoting three films within three days, Webber took a few minutes to talk to Elle.com.
ELLE: How did the idea for The End of Love come about?
MW: As a director and actor, I really like to strip everything away. I wanted to create the ultimate environment for myself to give the best performance that I could give. Also, I had recently become a dad and I was at the end of this relationship with the mother so it became about writing about the death of this relationship. I’m fascinated with relationships in general and how people act when they’re most vulnerable.
ELLE: Was it difficult drawing on such personal experiences?
MW: Only in a good way. When you put yourself out there I think you’re able to get rid of that awareness that actors have sometimes—that consciousness that you can see. Then audiences are able to connect with your character better because they’re seeing real emotions. As an artist, I kind of get off on that. Also, it’s not really me. This guy is in a much darker place.
ELLE: Had you always intended to write, direct and star in it?
MW: I did. That was the intention from the beginning. My first film [Explicit Ills] I just directed and didn’t act in it. This time I really wanted to create an opportunity for myself.
ELLE: First time you came to Sundance was in 2002 for Todd Solondz’ Storytelling. Does it feel different this time around?
MW: This time is totally different. I’ve only been here as an actor and never as a filmmaker. As a filmmaker, it’s what you want to be here as. You’re engaging with people and talking about your work—something that you created—so there’s more of a responsibility. I really like that.