She isn’t too worried about Abigail’s Party, though. For one thing, she insists she has a lot in common with the social animal she plays. “This is a woman who puts on a record and she stares at the Lava lamp for hours. I’ve done that. I can vague out for hours on the couch. I’m not a pacer.”
A fan of parlor games, Leigh rates herself an INFP on the Myers-Briggs personality test: introverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceptive. She says she’s found the perfect complement in Noah Baumbach, the Squid and the Whale auteur she married a few months ago. After saying she doesn’t discuss her personal life because “it’s just nothing I’m selling,” Leigh opens up anyway about what it’s like to be a high-school dropout partnered with a Brooklyn intellectual. “Yeah, he went to Vassar, blah blah blah,” she says. “Our brains are so different. With every single record, he can not only tell you who wrote the song but who played bass. Whereas I’m a person, someone asks me, ‘Who played your parents in blah blah?’ and I have no fucking idea. But we’re so well suited to each other, in our work especially. It feels so good to respect someone that I love as much as I do.”
"Yeah, he went to Vassar, blah blah blah. Our brains are so different! But we’re so well suited to each other."
The two have discussed working together (she won’t give details), and Leigh, who co-wrote the Hollywood satire The Anniversary Party, also continues to write screenplays—though she recently shelved a project when a studio balked at the budget. Genuinely bi-coastal, she finds our city a bit of an energy drain. “If you don’t have a lot going on, New York can be overstimulating. It can make you want to zone out. If you’re sensitive or introverted, it can be hard.”
Not that Hollywood is a picnic. You almost believe Leigh when she says the lack of even an Oscar nomination is no big deal and that “the event itself would probably be too much adrenaline for me. I love watching them in my sweats with my friends.” Or when she mocks other stars’ obsession with the prize, saying, “If you knew what actors did to get nominated, it would make you shit your pants.”
Leigh’s choices may have kept her from becoming the sort of dimpled darling who charms the academy. But she’s learned to tout her maverick persona as a badge of courage. “I obviously struck a chord somewhere,” she says. “That’s better than being someone people don’t have strong feelings about. I have to look at it that way—I’m sort of the eternal optimist. Because otherwise it would be depressing.”