Gun violence is one of the most prevalent and hotly-debated issues of our time – and there’s no shortage of opinions on how to deal with it. But the new film Is That a Gun in Your Pocket? takes a stance you probably haven’t seen on the news. After an incident shocks the gun-obsessed town of Rockford, Texas, the local women adopt a firm policy: no sex until the men give up their guns.
Leading this group is stay-at-home mom Jenna, whose son is responsible for the inciting incident. Over the course of the film, Jenna has leadership thrust upon her (no pun intended) and must decide what’s really important: “keeping the peace or getting a piece.” We spoke with Andrea Anders (Joey), the leading lady herself, about the movie’s unusual premise, working with her on-screen daughter Kat McNamara (Shadowhunters), and whether this no-sex approach could gain any traction IRL.
For those who haven’t seen the film yet, can you tell us a little about your character, Jenna?
Andrea Anders: Jenna is a loving wife and a loving mother in a small town in Texas who is faced with an incident that kind of wakes up her desire for change – and consequently kind of becomes an unlikely hero throughout the course of the film. I don’t think she meant to be a public speaker or a politician, but she finds herself in the role and ends up being very good at it.
This is definitely not a film premise that you see every day. How did you get involved and what drew you to the project?
Anders: My manager read the script and called me about it and said, “You know this character is basically who you would have been if you had not left DeForest, Wisconsin.” It’s true – that’s what I would have done. I would have married my high school boyfriend and I would’ve had kids. The premise is based on a play that was written in ancient Greece in 400 BC called Lysistrata, and I knew about the play from theater school. When I read the script, I thought, “Oh, I like this. This is interesting. He’s [filmmaker Matt Cooper] doing a modern day version of Lysistrata, and he’s made it relevant.” I just thought that was really cool, the way he did that.
I love the mother-daughter relationship in the movie. Can you talk about that dynamic and working with Kat McNamara?
Anders: Kat’s a lovely young lady, and we had a great time working together. I have an acting coach who is a friend of mine – her name is Heidi – and she has two daughters. I am currently pregnant with a daughter, but at the time that we were shooting, I didn’t have any children. Heidi coached me through that relationship and how there’s a lot of fear involved – you want so much for your child to feel empowered and strong and communicative, and all of those things. The best way to do that is to be those things yourself, and when you’re not – as the mother of an unborn child, I can’t say for certain – but you want to be those things yourself even more.
The movie addresses the very real issues of gun violence and gun control. What are your thoughts on the approach that it takes to those issues, and do you think that the no-sex strategy could have real world applications or success?
Anders: Matt Cooper, our director, was telling me that there are real life accounts of situations where that’s happened. I’ve gotta think so – I really do. It’s a powerful little subject, and women I think have a lot more power than they believe that they do – especially over the years. We are moving into a new time in this world. It’s not just sex – it’s an entire energy. You choose to give over that intimacy to the person who is making the most sense, you know? And a lot of times, I think, in women, we don’t. We give it over for various reasons. But it’s not a bad idea to say, “No, the only person who gets it is the person that deserves it.”
There are also a lot of gender politics in play. What are your thoughts on that and how it all plays out, without being too spoilery?
Anders: I guess primally in a basic level, it does show a little bit of a male, brawn kind of flexing their muscles and using their deep voices and saying, “No, no, we’re gonna do it this way” and the women going, “Great – it’s your choice.” One of my favorite lines that I say is “You can keep your guns if you want to; you just can’t have sex with us if you do.” The men kind of pitch a fit and scream and shout, but it is sort of a peaceful negotiation in an interesting sort of way.
What makes Is That a Gun in Your Pocket? a must-see?
Anders: This is gonna make it sound like the main issue and it isn’t that important, but the truth is the best thing about this movie is how funny it is. I’ve been in, I think, 3 or 4 different audiences now watching it, and the number of times that the entire audience goes up in laughter is really impressive. Comedy’s not that easy, and to get an entire audience to laugh that frequently throughout a movie, I’m impressed. I’m really impressed. I didn’t realize it was gonna be that humorous. It’s a good time.
Is That a Gun in Your Pocket? is in theaters nationwide this month.