Three Great Things: Hannah Marks

The actress turned writer-director, whose new film Mark, Mary and Some Other People is out now, on her pups, New Zealand and the Lakers.

Three Great Things is Talkhouse’s series in which artists tell us about three things they absolutely love. To mark the current release in theaters and on demand of Mark, Mary and Some Other People, the romantic comedy starring Hayley Law and Ben Rosenfield and directed by Hannah Marks, the actor turned filmmaker opened up about some of the things that she loves most in life. — N.D.

My Dogs Friday and Fable
My dogs Friday and Fable are my first choice. They are two very chubby French Bulldogs, they’re sisters, and they are the loves of my life. Friday is all black and Fable is white and spotted like a cow. They are about to turn three, so I think I need to plan a birthday party for them.

They’ve changed my life completely and give me real purpose; a routine in the morning and something else to love and think about. I grew up with dogs and am a dog person all the way – even though these guys are very naughty and farty! French Bulldogs have very flat faces and typically have a lot of medical issues, but they’re the sweetest things in the world. They are warm and cuddly, with adorable pink bellies, and they give me so much joy.

Hannah Marks with Fable and Friday (left), and a picture of the two by Saylor Petzold (right).

Having Friday and Fable helps to get me out of a creative headspace and do something normal. That said, I do like to cast my dogs in stuff, so they are in my new movie, Mark, Mary and Some Other People, being walked by one of the lead characters, Mark, who’s a dog walker. All my friends’ dogs were in the film too, which was just so fun. My last dog, who’s since passed away, is in it also, so she’s immortalized in the movie. It’s really special to get to include them in my art.

New Zealand
I was recently in New Zealand for about four months and it was such a wild adventure going for the first time. I was in Auckland and Christchurch, filming a movie I was directing, Don’t Make Me Go, which is in post-production right now. It was an American road trip movie, even though we were shooting in New Zealand, which was quite a challenge.

Visual effects supervisor Simon Deighton (left) and cinematographer Jaron Presant (right) with director Hannah Marks shooting Don’t Make Me Go in New Zealand.

The New Zealand landscapes are so vast and beautiful, but there are definitely areas that feel reminiscent of America, although the culture is very different. In the morning before we started, someone would come and bless the land before we filmed there. It was part of Māori culture and is such a moving ritual. That was something I hadn’t experienced in the states.

Elijah Wood, who shot Lord of the Rings there, is a friend of mine and he gave me some recommendations. And I’m also friends with Jemaine Clement, who’s a terrific actor and did a part in the movie. He was so wonderful and it was nice to get to have an actual New Zealander in the cast.

From what people had told me, I knew New Zealand would be beautiful, but I didn’t realize that the sky is brighter and the water is brighter and the grass is brighter – everything is very saturated and colorful. It almost makes you feel like you’re wearing special glasses.

The main thing I took away from being there, though, was the people, who were so nice. You never know what you’re going to get with your cast or crew, or if life moves at a different pace, but everyone was so hard working. The food was also so good – I was eating everything in sight!

The L.A. Lakers
I am from Los Angeles and used to watch Laker games with my dad on TV. I started watching as a kid during the Shaq and Kobe era, and I recently started watching games again during quarantine because of The Last Dance. It was so inspiring to see all these incredible athletes striving for greatness that I just thought, “You know, I’ve got to get back into it.” So I haven’t missed a Lakers game since then. Watching the Lakers win the NBA championship in 2020 was so exciting and exhilarating. I’m a big Anthony Davis fan and am so excited that we have Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard back. I miss some of the players who got traded, though. I wasn’t familiar with the heartache you feel when you start to lose the players that you loved. It kind of messes with your head.

The Lakers have such an amazing team and coach this year, I have a feeling they are going to find their rhythm and get some chemistry. But it’s almost a completely new team this year; A.D., LeBron and Talen Horton-Tucker are the only ones that were there last season, so it’s going to take time. But I’m really enjoying watching Carmelo Anthony and also Austin Reaves, a new player who’s really cool and such a hustler. It’s been fun to watch the team figure out the new dynamics. There’s a lot of drama and high stakes, and I’m so compelled by the off-court drama, too. I can’t help myself! I was riveted when Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard got into a fight on the sideline. I was like, “What are they saying? I want to hear so badly!”

I also love basketball from a filmmaking perspective, because of all the great personalities in the game. I remember when JaVale McGee was on the Lakers, I thought, “Oh, that guy needs to star in a movie!” I want to write a role for him. He’s so expressive and interesting. I used to love watching him dance when his teammates would score. I don’t have something ready for him, but I feel like I’ll know when the right script comes along or if I write it myself, I’ll be like, “That’s the role!” I’ll probably write a fan letter, as a lot of times that works. People like to be appreciated. I don’t think he has a theatrical agent, but we’ll find out. Maybe he’ll read this, or I’ll just spam this link! I’m excited to see if he has any ideas for what role he should play.

Hannah Marks’ latest film as writer-director, Mark, Mary and Some Other People, is out now in select theaters and on demand. As an actress, Marks’ recent films include Dinner in America, I Used To Go Here, and Banana Split, which she also co-wrote and produced. Her other acting film credits include Daniel Isn’t Real, Slash, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Runaways and Accepted, while she starred on TV as the female lead in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency opposite Elijah Wood. In 2019, Marks made her feature co-directorial debut with the independent film, After Everything starring Maika Monroe and Jeremy Allen, which she also co-wrote. Marks will direct the upcoming film adaptation of John Green’s novel Turtles All The Way Down, is in post-production on the Black List script Don’t Make Me Go, and at the CW is developing The Untitled Hannah Marks Project, a comedic drama written by her and produced by Ben Stiller’s Red Hour. A native of Los Angeles, Marks currently resides in New York and L.A.