Re­becca Hall tells Em­pire how she re­lived a true-life tragedy


FOR RE­BECCA HALL, there are some roles that are easy to leave be­hind, some that are hard, and there’s Christine Chub­buck. The cen­tral char­ac­ter in di­rec­tor An­to­nio Cam­pos’

(Si­mon Killer) ac­claimed new true-life drama Christine is a Florida news re­porter who — it’s no spoiler to say — killed her­self live on air in July 1974. Hard-work­ing and driven, but lost in a fug of quiet de­spair, she’s a tragic fig­ure who de­manded all of the ac­tor’s en­ergy on set — and oc­ca­sion­ally off it. “I’d wake up in the mid­dle of the night in a cold sweat think­ing I could be do­ing bet­ter,” Hall re­calls of the film’s 29-day shoot. “Christine’s voice would be in my head telling me to do bet­ter.”

It would be a harsh judg­ment. Her sym­pa­thetic, com­mit­ted por­trayal brings vivid­ness to Chub­buck’s in­ner life and her bat­tle with de­pres­sion. With the ill­ness, by its very na­ture, an in­ter­nal strug­gle, the role brought un­usual chal­lenges. As Hall notes, Chub­buck was of­ten forced to put on an act for the world. “It’s com­pli­cated to play the face that some­one wants to project and to show the au­di­ence what they’re re­ally feel­ing, too,” she tells Em­pire. “One of the first things I thought of was how good or bad an ac­tor she was at var­i­ous points.” When the mask slips, the WXLT-TV stu­dio re­ver­ber­ates with

Net­work-like fury. Hall’s three metic­u­lous months of prep even saw her con­sult Juil­liard School’s Di­rec­tor Of Move­ment to help hone her char­ac­ter’s body lan­guage. “He did one thing that was re­ally use­ful for me,” she re­mem­bers, “which was to give me a blank mask to put on. Tak­ing my face out of the equa­tion and look­ing in the mir­ror made me think about her in re­la­tion to my body in a way I hadn’t done be­fore.” Sure enough, Christine con­veys plenty even when say­ing noth­ing at all.

With that weird re­verse serendip­ity Hol­ly­wood has, an­other film about Chub­buck — Robert Greene’s meta-doc Kate Plays Christine — ar­rived just as Christine hit the fes­ti­val cir­cuit. “For ob­vi­ous rea­sons, I haven’t seen it,” says Hall. “I’d be slightly con­cerned to see it, when its premise seems to be that you can’t turn this story into a film!” She laughs at the irony. “I will see it even­tu­ally. I just can’t quite bring my­self to yet.”


Re­becca Hall as Christine Chub­buck.

Be­low: Chub­buck’s anger spills over in front of Tracy Letts’ Michael. Bot­tom: Peg (J. Smith-cameron), Christine’s mum, of­fers com­fort.

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