Justin Theroux: on his dog and feminism
Justin Theroux is currently promoting The Girl On The Train and he was interviewed by ELLE. Everyone who interviews Justin Theroux is going to try to get a quote about Jennifer Aniston. Justin knows this game. He has played it very well with his wife. So he talks about what the first year of marriage taught him (“to settle a little bit”, and that there’s been a “calming effect”) and where he would take her if the paps weren’t following them around (Washington Square Park) but my two favourite bits from this interview have nothing to do with Jennifer Aniston. They have to do with his dog and feminism.
Justin is asked about his tattoos, specifically which one is his most memorable:
“I have one on my side with my dog's name, Puma, underneath it. She was this white pit bull I found in Washington Square Park. She got dumped in the dog run—abandoned, all busted up. She was my first real project of a dog. She was like my shadow. I cried like a nine-year-old (when she died earlier this year). There was nothing macho about it. She was kind of the mayor. She was sick, and it was like being with the queen on her deathbed. She literally took visitors for, like, three weeks straight. People would come by and pay their respects.
We said goodbye to our Marcus just over a year ago on September 17, 2015. I’ve kept all the emails that were sent to us afterwards. Thousands of them. I love the way Justin has framed Puma’s departure. Like it was a state funeral. I think I might steal that from him when I think about Marcus and what a famewhore he was on this blog.
As for The Girl On The Train and why Justin thinks women were so taken by the story:
“It's an oddly feminist book. It's so hard to talk about it without spoiling the plot. It's about a woman who was gas-lit by her ex-husband.”
The writer then compliments him on his description, “that a man would manipulate a woman into thinking she’s crazy”. And Justin follows with this:
“Any woman who has been in more than three relationships can, I think, relate to some version of that.”
In all the media surrounding the film, I’m not sure there’s been a lot of discussion about what Rachel, the main character, played by Emily Blunt, really symbolises. To sell the movie, sure, it’s been positioned as a thriller, a mystery, featuring a complicated, deeply flawed woman. Emily recently told The Hollywood Reporter that she hates the word “likable” and that Rachel definitely isn’t “likable”. To go further though, she’s not only “unlikable”, she’s an unreliable narrator. And what the book (at least) challenges you to question is whether or not a woman’s narrative unreliability is self-imposed or whether or not it’s socially assigned. As I wrote in April, The Girl On The Train “chastises society for the various ways that women are silenced, how women can silence themselves, and the misogyny that enables all that silence”. If you’ve read the book – spoiler alert – you know that Justin’s character, Tom, is the manifestation of that misogyny and his fate, at the end, is both a provocative and defiant rejection of what he represents. So you know that discussion that’s been ongoing about how male reviewers review female-driven films and how men on the internet are sabotaging entertainment made for women? I can’t wait to see what will happen with The Girl On The Train.