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Mike Cahill, the sci-fi director of 2011’s “Another Earth,” was the first to arrive at the New York premiere of his latest indie thriller, “I Origins,” at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema on Thursday night. His sophomore effort, starring Michael Pitt, Brit Marling and Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, digs deep into existentialism, science, spirituality and reincarnation (with a steamy love affair thrown in for good measure).
“So far we’ve brought [the film] to the Czech Republic and Germany, and the audience was bawling, crying in both places. I don’t know if they were crying because it was so bad or because they were moved,” Cahill said, his long hair tied up in a haphazard man bun. “But it seems like people are responding universally. That’s a big thing for me. Even though postmodernists in the world disagree, I really do think there are things that connect us all.”
The filmmaker and self-professed “geek” said he’s the black sheep of his family — his two older brothers are neuroscientists. “I try to portray scientists as real people, which doesn’t happen too often,” he said.
The molecular biologists in the film, played by Pitt and Marling, were reunited at the Marc by Marc Jacobs-hosted screening, along with costars Bergès-Frisbey and Steven Yeun. Other guests included Sophie Auster, Maggie Betts, Jonathan Ames, Jason Reitman and a pair of “Girls” stars: Alex Karpovsky and Zosia Mamet, who arrived with her beau, “X-Men” hunk Evan Jonigkeit.
Pitt and Bergès-Frisbey, who share an ephemeral tryst in the film, took turns complimenting each other’s acting chops. “Astrid’s really primal,” said Pitt. “I was impressed with how much she knew about different directors all over the world. She loves cinema, she’s fearless and I felt like I could try anything with her,” he said, adding that the two “totally bonded off-screen.”
Later, guests skipped over to an after party on the Bowery Hotel’s second-floor terrace. Marling, a longtime collaborator of Cahill’s, stars as Karen, Pitt’s wife in the film — a role she had a hand in cowriting.
“Mike [Cahill] and I tried to write a wife that didn’t seem like a pushover,” Marling said. “We wanted to create a partnership that felt really equal. They spur each other on and call each other out on their bulls--t. I think what’s interesting about Karen is that [her husband] going to India involves him looking up his ex-lover, and she’s like, ‘Actually yes, go do it because I’m interested in the science of it, and I put that above our relationship.’ There’s something badass about a woman who’s that confident.”
This Karen character sounded like something of a dream girl, all brainy and self-assured.
“Yeah, a dream girl in cargo pants and glasses,” Marling cracked.