Despite a successful Hollywood career, star Marisa Tomei never landed the role of Katrina, the hopelessly romantic tugboat captain, in She Comes to Me. Rebecca Miller’s latest film just had its world premiere at the 2023 Berlinale, and while I was covering the festival live, I had the chance to sit down with Tohme to talk about what draws She went to Katrina, and like Miller, a special director is how the star slept on a real tugboat to prepare for the role.
She Comes To Me follows the intertwined lives of several who are pulled together in their search for love and acceptance. The film centers on Steven (Peter Dinklage), a creatively disabled opera composer who is a down-to-earth woman until he meets Tomes Katrina, but She became an unexpected muse. Miller worked on the script for six years, and it took a while for the independent project to get off the ground. But when Tomei got the script, he immediately fell in love with Hurricane Katrina during the epidemic. As Tomei puts it:
The turmoil caused by the pandemic didn’t stop Tomei from taking an interest in the role. After all, it’s not very common to find a character full of beautiful human contradictions. “She wore a corset under the jumpsuit,” Tomei points out, revealing how Katrina was layered in unexpected ways. Tomei couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play such a role, which drew her to Miller’s project because:
“She [Katrina] is so innocent, but she lives in a very, very real world and we have to do this in a very real world. Work, like the real thing. And it’s very, very tough Work, physical and time-consuming. But at the same time like a cowboy. As if the world had just opened up. As if anything could happen on these seas. Life like that was pretty epic. Of course, the more I read, at first I No idea. But the more I read, the more I understand the thrill of being so free. I really enjoy playing a muse who also has a job and stuff.”
However, being Katrina wasn’t easy, as her job posed unique challenges for the star. But Tomei was ready to throw her heart and soul into the film, so she suggested sleeping on a tugboat to absorb Katrina’s quirks and habits. Tomei told us about her experience living in the trailer, saying:
“Well, of course it was me, and I got there and I thought, ‘Why did I choose to do this?’ I could have invented it. But I wanted to, I wanted to. How many times would I have that chance? These piers are in New York , it’s also a little world of its own. I haven’t even been there before. So it’s really fascinating to be able to see the whole subculture there. I really like it, and I think the more I’m on the boat, the more I need it to be mine Second nature, I needed to steer the boat. Then there was the boat we shot, we didn’t know it at the time. So I knew it very well. I couldn’t seem to look down where my feet might be going. To keep me from tripping, It has to be: ‘No, I know it all. I can do that blindfolded, and it has to be second nature to that feeling. So it makes sense to stay there.”
The strategy paid off, as Katrina stole the spotlight every time she was on screen. It’s easy to believe that Katrina is a real captain, and it’s impressive how quickly Tomei adapts to the sport on a tugboat because she really grew up on it.