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INTERVIEW: The Good Place’s D’Arcy Carden Is a Funny Woman With So Much Heart in Ride the Eagle

D'Arcy Carden sitting in bed, looking at her phone in Ride the Eagle.

I wouldn’t say I know D’Arcy Carden, but we were both doing things at the Upright Citizens Brigade at the same time. (Meaning Carden was performing while I was an intern.) But getting to see her comedy prowess recognized through things like The Good Place is incredible because Carden is, genuinely, one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

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And now, she’s shining in Jake Johnson’s Ride the Eagle. The film, which was directed by Trent O’Donnell and written by both O’Donnell and Johnson, follows Leif (Johnson) and his “quest” given to him by his dead mother Honey (Susan Sarandon). Through each of her tasks, Leif starts to understand his mother more as well as understanding aspects of himself, but one of Honey’s tasks leads him to his ex-girlfriend Audrey, played by Carden.

Talking to her about the movie, the experience of doing so in the middle of the pandemic, and the crafting of Audrey was a fascinating look into Carden as a performer. The film was made last summer, when no vaccines were out yet, and while the movie doesn’t focus on the pandemic, it is about lost time and coping with missing out on things that hit beautifully with the year we had and the struggle we’re still in.

“It kinda came at the perfect moment for me. It was about a year ago. It was the summer, last year. And I was in like the pandemic dumps, like we all were, and feeling just like hopeless and lonely and missing, you know, the world and work and all that stuff and getting a nice little friendly text from Trent, who wrote it and directed it with Jake, was such a…I was so happy. I was so delighted and it was like, he gave me, you know, like a bunch of outs. He was like, ‘I know you’re probably not up for it and no pressure and this and that.’ And I was like, ‘I am saying yes before I even know what it’s about.’

“I’m like, yes, I’m in. You and Jake? Yes, I’m in. I was just thrilled to get to work with Trent, who I’ve known and loved for years, we got to work together on The Good Place. And then Jake, who I’m such a gigantic fan of. I was pleased to be a part of it. And then, you know, the themes and ideas of this movie were so sort of beautiful and timely, you know, obviously it’s not a movie about the pandemic or anything, but yeah. But like you said, lost time and  sort of taking stock in your life and taking a moment to be like, ‘okay, what is this, what am I doing? What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong?’ It was really, you know, hit me.”

With Audrey and Leif’s dynamic, it felt very much like an organic conversation ,and so Carden and I spoke a bit about the creation of Audrey and Leif’s relationship and the collaborative process with both Johnson and O’Donnell. “It was very collaborative and we also have this like miles long text thread with the three of us that a lot of it is like, sort of in character,” Carden said. “It’s like, we all sort of worked the same way and pitch the same way and do bits the same way that it was really easy to just sort of like speak in character.”

What is also fascinating about this film is the caliber of its cast. Not only are both Carden and Johnson beloved comedy actors who brought some of our favorite characters on television to life, but Susan Sarandon brings Leif’s mother Honey to life in her video messages to him, and J.K. Simmons plays Carl, an ex-lover of Honey.

Carden brought up a wonderful fact about this cast, though: She didn’t have to worry about being nervous since they weren’t actually all on set together.

“I mean, I think it was not daunting because I knew I wouldn’t have that moment of like walking on set and having to shake J.K. Simmons’ hand and be like ‘hello sir.’ Like I knew that wasn’t going to happen. So it was actually like a really exciting and fun version of it, which is just like, oh, I get to be in a movie with him and someday I will meet him and we’ll get to say we were in a movie together. That has kind of like an instant connection.”

Ride The Eagle is available in Select Theaters, On Demand and Digital July 30, 2021.

(image: Decal)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh.

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