Tell the truth

Ris­ing star Tara Lynne Barr on pain meds, por­tray­ing a “real” teenage girl and those sex scenes she’s “get­ting away with.”

ELLE (Canada) - - Radar - By sarah laing n

usu­ally when you ask some­one how their day is go­ing, you get some vari­a­tion of “Fine.” Not so with Tara Lynne Barr. In fact, pretty much the first thing the 22-year-old ac­tress says over the phone from Los Angeles is “I’ve been high as a kite for the past few days. Now I’m just in pain.” (It’s worth not­ing here that Barr had just had her wis­dom teeth re­moved about a week ear­lier.)

Of course, if you’ve seen Barr’s work on Hulu’s Golden Globe-nom­i­nated Ca­sual— she plays a re­fresh­ingly re­lat­able teenager—find­ing her to be so de­light­fully open in real life isn’t a sur­prise. Barr plays Laura on the Ja­son Reit­man-helmed come­drama, who, along­side her newly di­vorced mother (played by Michaela Watkins) and her so­cially in­ept, pos­si­bly so­cio­pathic un­cle (played by Tommy Dewey), nav­i­gates the world of re­la­tion­ships in a way that’s some­times awk­ward, of­ten cringe-y and al­ways emo­tion­ally res­o­nant. And, yes, that in­cludes sex scenes—quite a few of them.

“It feels like we’re get­ting away with some­thing we shouldn’t be,” says Barr. “Michaela and I talked about it; nei­ther of us looks like a gym rat or a Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret model, and for some rea­son I’ve al­ways had it in my head that I shouldn’t be do­ing sex scenes be­cause I don’t have a per­fect body.” Barr, whose pre­vi­ous work in­cludes smaller roles on tele­vi­sion shows like Aquarius, re­al­izes that she’s part of a pretty spe­cial pro­ject in that re­spect: “Our show is com­mit­ted to a real de­pic­tion of real peo­ple liv­ing real life; I don’t think it’s in­ten­tional—not like ‘Oh, let’s hire her be­cause she’s not su­per-beau­ti­ful’ but more like they want to have the best ac­tors for the job, and if that ac­tress has a lit­tle belly fat or doesn’t have per­fect skin, so be it.”

The way women are de­picted on TV (i.e., unattain­ably, im­prob­a­bly beau­ti­ful at all times) is some­thing Barr thinks about a lot. “You think ‘How are these beau­ti­ful women ex­ist­ing and I’m just this potato-like thing wrapped in a blan­ket bur­rito and sit­ting on my couch binge watch­ing for six hours a day?’”

Barr got into act­ing as a hobby when she was 11. She had a few small roles but didn’t take it se­ri­ously un­til she grad­u­ated from high school. She cred­its her “nor­mal” child­hood and re­ally good par­ents with her un­usual com­fort in her own skin—es­pe­cially in an in­dus­try that al­most ac­tively dis­cour­ages it. “I think there’s some­thing in you that gets stripped away when you suc­cumb to the sta­tus quo of ‘beauty.’ This is my face, and it’s what I’ve got to work with.”

That kind of un­re­touched re­al­ness is what Barr feels her show, just re­newed for a third sea­son, gets right in its por­trayal of teenagers—their sex­u­al­ity in par­tic­u­lar. “They do it in a sen­si­tive but not con­de­scend­ing way,” she says. “They por­tray teenagers hav­ing sex: They don’t need to be these doe-eyed vir­ginal princesses who are de­flow­ered, but they also aren’t these slutty, bitchy cheer­leader girls who are a punch­line.”

Which is why Barr doesn’t mind do­ing those sex scenes: “I think it’s amaz­ing that ev­ery time there’s a sex scene with my char­ac­ter in it, it feels like she’s in con­trol—like you’re not watch­ing Laura as an ‘ob­ject’; you’re watch­ing a hu­man be­ing with agency. That’s a small step in the right di­rec­tion.”

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