Melissa Rauch could have seen her very dark comedy, THE BRONZE, made into a film before now, but with someone else playing the lead role of Hope Annabelle Greggory, a world-class gymnast sidelined by a torn Achilles tendon. Instead, she and husband/writing partner, Winston Rauch, were determined that Melissa star in the role that they had written specifically for her. It’s not the only gamble they took, and we started our conversation on March 6, 2016, with my asking her about the radical decision to not have Hope smile. Ever. It flies in the face of cultural expectations, not to mention cinematic convention, for a woman to never crack a smile. The result is both radical and provocative, as well as funny while also making salient points about the psychology of fame, both getting and losing it.
We went on to talk about the profoundly truthful way the film deals with one character’s twitch, how the gymnastic sex scene stumped the MPAA, and why Melissa prefers writing with a partner.
THE BRONZE is a film about celebrity, enabling, and living in the past, and also one that confirms all our suspicious about what the sex life of gymnasts must be. Melissa stars as Hope Annabelle Greggory, a world-class gymnast who won the world’s heart when she didn’t let that torn Achilles tendon stop her from winning the eponymous medal. Twelve years on, she’s still basking in that glory in her small town of Amherst, Ohio, Sandstone Capitol of the world, where she spends her days snagging free swag from the local merchants, stealing money from her postal worker father’s mail truck, and generally externalizing her own discontent with an impressive stream of vitriol and expletives tempered with a curious concern for the tidiness of her town’s streets. Her life is about to change when her father, fueled by a self-help book and the putative encouragement of his pet goldfish, announces that he will be retiring and that Hope will have to get a job. Perhaps coaching at her former coach’s gym, where a new star gymnast, the hopelessly delighted Maggie, is poised to take the world, and the world’s medals, by storm. The film co-stars Gary Cole as Hope’s hapless father, Sebastian Stan as a bad memory from Hope’s past, Haley Lu Richardson as Maggie, Cecily Strong as her equally delighted mother, and Thomas Middleditch as Ben, the gym’s co-owner whose own dream of athletic glory were put on hold by his twitching, but not his dream of having Hope pay attention to him in a way that isn’t a put down. The film was directed by Bryan Buckley from a script by the Rauches. Their previous collaboration includes the stage show, The Miss Education of Jenna Bush, and THE CONDOM KILLER, a short that I long to see. She can currently be seen as Dr Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz on the phenomenally wonderful, THE BIG BANG THEORY, now in its tenth season.