I went to meet Dreya Weber before the showing of A Marine Story at the Portland Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. With a handful of questions, I expected our interview to last about a half hour. But as we sat down and ordered drinks, the conversation just flowed. Although she doesn’t identify as a lesbian, she is passionate about our issues, especially “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” She showed up with her brother, who flew out from NY to accompany her to the movie.
We had a few cocktails. I wasn’t sure if the PX90 advocate even drank. I loved that she was real and raw and threw the F-bomb around like it was water. Here is an edited version of our conversation.
Lesbian Life: Tell me more about what drew you to the role of Alex in A Marine Story?Dreya Weber: Ned Farr (Who is the director and also her husband) wrote it for me. After we did The Gymnast, we were approached by a company to make a movie. They said we don’t care what it is, as long as the protagonist is a positive role model. I wanted to do an action movie because I always wanted to do fight scenes because I thought that would be fun. Especially after the Gymnast. We knew we wouldn’t have any real money, so it’s not like we could do a fancy sci-fi movie. So we were like, what can we do with a female lead, where she can be strong and where she can be an action/dynamic character? And that was when they were kicking all the linguists out, because it’s better to not have gay linguists in the military then to have terrorists blow up New York. F-You! That was a spark for Ned. He was like, this is ridiculous, but what a great fertile world to tell a story in. Then we started researching it and it was like Oh my god!
Did you speak to people who had been kicked out of the military?Yes, There were three women who read the script at various stages, who contributed ideas, who gave feedback. I knew one straight Marine who read the script and was wonderful about advising. One thing I discovered was the people who are serving don’t give a shit. All they care about is you’ve got my back, I’ve got your back.
Our on set military advisor is a reserve marine who is gay but not out. The women who advised us are currently serving and advised us anonymously because they cannot be out. We wanted to tell a story that was credible. Because if it’s not credible, you can be dismissed instantly. And to me too, I wanted to be absolutely credible as this woman, so people wouldn’t go, “I don’t believe it for a second that she’s a Marine.”
So, you wanted to do an action film. There was a million other ways you could have done an action film. Why did you choose to highlight the DADT issue?We [made the film] with our own money. When you do that, it’s not undertaken lightly. Doing just something that didn’t have any social relevance, I couldn’t do it. It’s too hard. And by that time, we had researched it so much. If I saw someone being mugged in the street, or someone beating a child, I would say something. It’s the exact same thing to me. What is the problem? It should not be something only the gay and lesbian community has to fight for. It’s economic. $363 million we’ve lost by kicking people out that the military has trained. The fiscal conservatives should be up in arms about this. There are so many issues. Our national security. Do we really at this time, when we’re in two wars, want to be kicking people out for this reason?
We worked on it for four years. It’s a good script. We knew it would be a relevant movie. There’s also a bit of pragmatism to it. The Gymnast had an audience. I have a bit of fan base. There are people who care that I make another movie, so let’s make another movie that’s movie that’s important and that people will care about.
Have you used this as a platform to become an activist on this issue?The movie itself is the platform because it initiates dialogue.
There aren’t enough strong women leads in the movies, so that’s a big one. There aren’t enough uplifting stories. Stories that could potentially inspire women. I know both the movies that we made are. Life is short. It’s not just about the money and the time, I want to feel proud of them. And I am. If you can entertain and make people think a little, that’s fantastic. If they’re only entertained, that’s great. If there is anything that I can contribute to a more generous spirit in the world, I’m all for that. There’s also the practicality of this issue. There are 26 Western countries who have over turned their bans on the gays serving in the military. Uruguay overturned their ban against gays serving in the military. And I laughed the most painful laugh. Latin America..It makes me sad. It’s lame.
The other part is there is something fun about playing a character who has so much going on inside that isn’t worked out. Shedoesn’t have a way to express it and is such a loose cannon. Because that’s usually such a male thing in movies. It’s kind of an archetype for the men.