Noah Baumbach & Greta Gerwig got squirrelly about the start of their relationship

When I covered Greta Gerwig’s Vogue cover interview, I wrote at length about my irritation with the continuing erasure of Jennifer Jason Leigh in both Gerwig and Noah Baumbach’s Oscar campaigns. Noah is campaigning for Marriage Story, which he wrote and directed (and which is loosely based on his own marriage/divorce to/from JJL). Greta is campaigning for Little Women, which she wrote and directed while she was pregnant with Noah’s second son. Jennifer Jason Leigh gave birth to Noah’s first son… as she was leaving him in 2010. During their campaigns thus far, Greta and Noah have not even been asked about the start of their relationship and whether there was a time when Greta was his mistress, or whether Greta was “the reason” why JJL left Noah. The speculation has been there for years though. And so now, Greta and Noah cover the Hollywood Reporter together and the piece is all about how they’re the first romantic couple who could be competing for Best Director/Best Picture Oscars. And wouldn’t you know, THR asked them directly about JJL.

Neither Gerwig nor Baumbach talks about the genesis of their romantic relationship. They deflect questions about how they fell in love with different tactics — she changes the subject with a blithe observation about an unrelated topic (Baumbach’s inability to darn socks), he scowls and stirs his yogurt — each saying nothing in their own way.

Still, it’s possible to piece together some of the story. They met in 2009 on the set of Baumbach’s comedy-drama Greenberg, which he co-wrote with then-wife Leigh, who also played a supporting role. In previous interviews, Baumbach has said that his relationship with Gerwig began in 2011, a year after divorce proceedings with Leigh began. “I didn’t really notice anything,” says Ben Stiller of working with Baumbach and Gerwig on Greenberg — he starred as a loser brother who house-sits for his more successful sibling and ends up falling for a personal assistant (played by Gerwig). “She was kind of doing what she did and Noah was responding to it the same way he would respond to other actresses,” says Stiller. “I was just trying to understand my own dynamic with him.”

Adam Driver’s character in Marriage Story — an $18 million film about a director’s disintegrating relationship with his actress wife, played by Scarlett Johansson — wrecks his marriage by cheating with … a personal assistant. “It’s not autobiographical,” Baumbach insists when asked about the similarities between his life and the film. “It’s personal. A David Lynch movie is the most personal filmmaking I could ever imagine. But nobody asks him if those things actually happened to him. It’s all him. It’s all his expression.”

Gerwig jumps to her boyfriend’s defense, revealing a difference between Baumbach and his onscreen alter ego. “Noah would never sing,” she points out, referring to a scene in Marriage Story in which Driver belts out a melancholy rendition of Stephen Sondheim’s “Being Alive” in front of supportive friends. “There’s a few things.”

[From THR]

“…She changes the subject with a blithe observation about an unrelated topic (Baumbach’s inability to darn socks)…” Smooth. “So were you the reason why Jennifer Jason Leigh filed for divorce?” “He cannot darn socks, isn’t that cute?” The Sock Defense. I mean, look, I’m not saying I know what happened between these three people. I do not. But I know a story is shady as f–k when a trade paper like the Hollywood Reporter LEADS their cover story with this section, and when two of the people involved can’t get their stories straight. This… is going to become a bigger issue in the weeks to come. It will blow up if JJL chooses to say anything about it. I think that’s why Greta and Noah are being so squirrelly too – they’re worried that JJL is going to pop up and issue some statement and both of their Oscar campaigns will be dead in the water.

Cover courtesy of THR, additional photos courtesy of WENN.

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