"The thing, for me, that started it was I went back to my college to show my first movie, and I was shocked at how much older I was all of a sudden than everyone there," Josh Radnor said last night at the Peggy Siegal Company premiere of his new film, Liberal Arts. "I was thinking like, 'Surely, I wasn't as young as these people when I was in college.'"
That feeling gave rise to Liberal Arts, written and directed by and starring Radnor. He plays Jesse, a 35-year-old bibliophile living in New York who goes to visit an old professor at his alma mater and there meets Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), a 19-year-old sophomore with whom he strikes up a not-quite-relationship. (The film also features especially entertaining turns by Allison Janney and Zac Efron.)
For Olsen, now 23, one of the challenges of playing Zibby was getting back in touch with that particular brand of stubbornness that comes from being 19. "Where I am now, I'm very happy not knowing what's going to happen next," she said. "But there was definitely a point, when I was 19 or 18, when I felt, definitely, more self-assured, and like no one could change my opinions on anything."
After the film, friends and supporters including the recently-wed Taran Killam, Ari Graynor, Kick Kennedy, and Lily Rabe all decamped to Sons of Essex to eat truffle pizza and, presumably, talk about books. —Alexandria Symonds