The star of A Teacher, Kate Mara, shares her thoughts on the horny TV renaissance and how to have a family political disagreement when you’re part of two NFL dynasties.
In your new show A Teacher, even though the relationship between your character and her student is deeply screwed up, it’s also very hot. Between that and Normal People, Hulu is really leading a horny TV resurgence.
I’m glad that was your comparison, because I’m with you. And obviously, the show is exploring the reaction that you had to it. [But] just because somebody seems mature, or even if a kid is 18 or whatever the legal ages are, it’s still abuse of power and it’s not an affair. There’s a lot of people who hear it and think, “Well, if it’s a young guy and it’s a hot young teacher, then what’s the big deal?” But it’s important to think deeper [about] the actual trauma that occurs.
You’re very outspoken about Black Lives Matter and football players’ right to protest, especially given that one side of your family co-owns the Steelers and the other the Giants. Did you talk to them before you spoke out?
My dad has always known my feelings and knew when my sister [Rooney] and I were going to say something, and we always got his blessing. I’m a massive football fan; it’s literally in my family and has been forever. I have so much passion for it, and for the sport itself, and for the sacrifice that the players make, to do what they do. With the NFL and Black Lives Matter, I just was like, “I can’t not say anything. It’s wrong to be silent.” Especially when you see your own players on your own teams saying, “We need you to speak up for us and do more for us.” [But] my dad’s one of 11 kids, which is a lot of people and a lot of different opinions. I think that it’s complicated for them.
A lot of people are going through this with family now, though I guess most don’t own football teams. How do you kindly disagree with someone in a way they can be receptive to?
While a lot of arguments and conversations are great to have on social media, when you’re talking about family, I think that’s probably the wrong route. For whatever reason, it is a lot easier to have conversations over the phone. There’s something less intimidating about it than sitting across the table at Thanksgiving. I’m not saying all my family members have different opinions than I do. But when you have a massive family, the chances are, not everyone’s going to agree. Like, [I’m] a very passionate vegan, and I did not grow up in that kind of household at all.
I wouldn’t consider myself a duck; it’s ‘what you see is what you get.’
They didn’t get you a tofu turkey?
Absolutely not. And there still isn’t [one].
“You can eat sides, Kate.”
I basically live on sides anyway.
You seem like a person who is very contained and has a lot of control over what you put out and what you hold in. Are you that placid inside, or are you a duck? Meaning, you appear calm but below the surface you’re frantically paddling.
I do relate to that. But I wouldn’t consider myself a duck; I think that usually [with me], it’s “what you see is what you get.”
Besides a vaccine and systemic social change, what are your dreams for the coming year?
I hope that we can create more things sooner than later, because it’s such an emotional outlet in so many ways. And I do think that movies and television and everything helps a lot of us get through the hard times.
I figured it out: You and your husband Jamie Bell and your sister Rooney and her partner Joaquin Phoenix can do an at-home version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Shoot it on an iPhone, Steven Soderbergh-style.
That’s pretty dark! I want more uplifting stories.
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