Close Encounters of the Celebrity Kind...
Alison Pill Talks Milk
11-26-08 Windy City Times Interview
by Richard Knight, Jr.
Pill as Anne Kronenberg, Harvey Milk's political advisor in Milk
Milk star Alison Pill who plays Anne Kronenberg, Harvey Milk’s fellow gay activist and the movie’s lone lesbian character, discussed the
film with Windy City Times. Excerpts:
Q: Is the story better served by a director who is openly gay and whether any of the characters are disserved being played by actors
who are not gay?
AP: I will say that the one thing that I appreciated the most is that the relationships between the men are taken as a given. The
story isn’t about their discovery of being gay or any of that. Within the first five minutes there’s a beautiful love scene between men
that’s not like, “Oh my God, this is shocking!” It’s just as you would in any romance. I think that is something that Gus can
definitely do well. Whether a straight director could do it as well, I don’t know. The movie isn’t about being gay as anything more
than a given. That’s just the way it was. As for the straight actors – they’re all pretty good actors and I don’t know whether they
should be gay or not but I think they all did an amazing job.
Q: How involved was Anne Kronenberg with you? Cleve Jones was there with Emile Hirsch on the set everyday and it seems that
Anne was back a little further.
AP: Anne was back a little further because Anne has a job in the public health department and was trying to deal with a budget
(laughs). I would have loved to have had her there every single day but she was dealing with San Francisco. When I arrived for
rehearsal I got to meet her and sort of recalibrated my character idea based on how she can just rule a room but very much as a
woman, not in any overtly aggressive way. She’s a den mother and I had come in with a different idea.
They had been filming for a while when I got to the set so I came in literally the way she did – a 22 year-old kid walking into a room
of really important gentlemen, being the only girl, everybody’s already formed their own cliques and have her there that day was so
nice because she was like, “That’s exactly what it was like.” The film shoot mirrored the political campaign in the movie. We were
all away from home staying in one hotel and of course we built up our little community. All that camaraderie is just built in.
Q: There’s a strange lesbian invisibility in the movie. Did that put more weight on your shoulders?
AP: I know Cleve kept trying to ask, “Where are the ladies?” We shot one scene in which I am the real organizer during one of the
campaigns but there just wasn’t enough time in the movie which is unfortunate. The same could be said for what Harvey did with the
Chinese community and the seniors. There are hints at it. I wish we could have done more on this because what he did by bringing
in the lesbian community and the women’s rights community into his campaign is incredible and crossed a lot of boundaries. I wish
we could have seen more women in the movie, definitely but it’s also called Milk and there’s a very specific story that needed to be
told in order to make it a workable film. Hopefully somebody will do another film about that side of it.
Q: You’ve been involved with two projects with two queer icons – Judy Garland and now Harvey Milk – a cool coincidence. Is there a
third one coming up?
AP: (laughs) Yes, if you give me a job! There are definitely important stories to be told. I didn’t know enough about Harvey Milk
and when we were in San Francisco and a lot of gay people in their 20s living in the Bay area had never heard of Harvey Milk.
There's a huge section missing from my generation’s education about this. The archival footage that’s been worked in so beautifully
also speaks to that – I was born in 1985 and I never knew that being gay was a moral issue or an issue at all. I am grateful for that
fact but I am also aware that people need to be taught about the history of it in order to deal with the future.
Check the Archives for other Milk Interviews with cast members and historical consultant Cleve Jones