Saul Rubinek talks film ‘Clock’, unfair biological clock pressure on women
Actor Saul Rubinek spoke to The Natural Aristocrat® about playing a father pressuring his daughter to give him grandkids on Hulu original film ‘Clock’. Rubinek discussed the judgmental guilt-tripping and shaming of women to become mothers.
Elaborating on the unspoken stress placed by society for women to follow their biological clock.
This Saul Rubinek interview contains mild spoilers for Hulu original film ‘Clock‘ premiering on Friday, April 28.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT (NIR REGEV): It felt like your character was angled to be an antagonist, semi-villain early on in ‘Clock‘. But there are many Jewish parents that would agree and resonate with what Joseph said to his daughter. How ‘her grandparents survived the camps only for the lineage to end with you.’
What are your thoughts on that?
SAUL RUBINEK: Well, I didn’t want to play a villain, I wanted to play a likable character so that it’s more shocking. You might relate to your own parents that way instead of creating a villainous character.
Our very brave writer, director, Alexis Jacknow took a subject matter that is not talked about that often. I mean, we talk about women’s choices to have abortions. We talk about women’s decisions whether or not to have a family.
But what we don’t talk about in this society is if a woman isn’t making a decision… Maybe it’s because she has a high powered career, so she doesn’t want to have a child or she doesn’t have a right partner. Or she feels she can’t do it alone or she doesn’t have the right support system.
But in this particular case, it’s a woman who doesn’t have maternal instincts. She’s not acknowledging the so-called biological clock that women are supposed to have inside of them.
And if women don’t have it or if they don’t feel it, then this movie (‘Clock‘) is saying that other people are going to tell you there’s something wrong with you. Something that medicine will have or psychiatry will have to solve.
Alexis Jacknow took this concept into the horror movie genre, which is extremely unexpected and unusual. So that nobody who loves the horror genre alone would know what’s coming next. It’s a very brave thing to do with this subject.
Even though my character is putting tremendous pressure on his daughter to have a child, I wanted to create a very likable, very human character.
My job was to create somebody very normal, a very relatable dad who’s not a monstrous character in the least.
And yet, he doesn’t really understand the pressure that he’s placing on his daughter. He puts a very, very dark pressure on her without really acknowledging the very fragile psychological state that she might be in.
The shame that she might feel about who she is because of what the demands of the society are. So it’s a very important thing when you’re playing dark characters to humanize them.
Actually, I think if we look at all the dark figures in history and just make them monsters, then we learn nothing from them. Nothing. You have to be able to see the monster inside of yourself before you understand the monster in other people.
Everybody puts this ridiculous pressure on Diana Agron’s character. But it’s really Dr. Elizabeth Simmons (actress Melora Hardin) though who’s the centerpiece of the horror. She says, ‘There is something wrong with you and this medicine is going to make it right.’
And I think that’s the essence and trigger of this horror movie. It rides on that premise, doesn’t it?
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What was it like to film the scene where Joseph rips up the photos dating back from before the war in anger?
Even knowing it’s a movie, I feel the audience can’t help but want to grab the photo album away from you. There’s an instinctual feeling that the photos can’t be replaced.
SAUL RUBINEK: I feel he regrets it right afterwards and feels ashamed of his actions. But in the emotion of the moment, he felt there wasn’t going to be anybody after him.
Everybody in his family who survived the Holocaust up until his daughter, who’s decided not to have children, made a family. So he decides to rip up everything. It’s a very emotional, childish, immature thing to do for an old man.
Yet, understandable, human and regrettable. But still dark & difficult and puts a tremendous pressure on his daughter. So the more likable I was before that scene, I think the better!
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What did you think of the whole image of the grandmother haunting her granddaughter? I’ve never seen a Holocaust survivor presented in that kind of way. Like something out of horror movie ‘The Grudge‘.
SAUL RUBINEK: Right, they’re victims not horror characters. I’d say there’s a deep connection between the father tearing up those pictures and that particular character… Because Ella’s haunted by the fact that people have survived tragedy and she’s not going to continue the line.
So there is a guilt attached to the people that have come before her. And my feeling is that should transcend any nationality, should transcend Judaism and to any culture.
If you look at any culture, there is an onus, a feeling and responsibility put on the women in a culture to continue the line and to feel a maternal instinct.
And that biological instinct, otherwise known as biological clock or a maternal instinct, is supposed to be fundamentally imbued into the spirit and into the genetic code of every female.
It’s considered a tragedy if a woman has a medical condition where she’s incapable of having children. So if you have a woman who doesn’t have a medical condition and who is biologically or at least biologically capable of having children, but has no desire for it… Then that is a pariah in society.
Even in polite, sophisticated North American or western culture society, that woman may keep that secret.
I really related to this because about 12 years ago, I wrote a play called ‘Terrible Advice’ in London. It featured Sharon Horgan and Scott Bakula and was directed by Frank Oz.
One of the characters who’s in her late thirties, played by Sharon Horgan, is a woman who lies to her lovers and her friends. She lies to her best friend who’s a woman about the fact she can’t have children, she says she’s incapable.
But the truth is she finds it easier to say, “I can’t”, rather than “I don’t want to.” There’s no judgment when she says, I’m incapable.
If she said, “I don’t want to,” she can’t point to a high powered career that would give her the excuse of saying, ‘I don’t want children’.
If she doesn’t have that, then there’s a tremendous judgment put on her. So I had already explored a little bit of that character with some actors & actresses that I’d worked with.
I related to the subject matter, I just never imagined that it would be in a horror movie. So I thought that was a pretty brave choice on part of Director Alexis Jacknow to put this in a horror movie context.
It is psychologically profound that she goes this dark, this deep and throws the character into a mess.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Thanks Saul!
SAUL RUBINEK: Thank you!
– Hulu original film ‘Clock‘ will begin premiere on the streaming service beginning on April 28, 2023.
Connect with actor Saul Rubinek on social media
– Follow actor Saul Rubinek on Twitter and Instagram.
Hulu original film ‘Clock’: Plot Synopsis, Cast, and Trailer
Synopsis: “Clock” is the story of a woman who enrolls in a clinical trial to try and fix her seemingly broken biological clock after friends, family, and society pressures her to have children.
Starring Dianna Agron (“Shiva Baby”, forthcoming “Acidman” and “El Elegido”) leads as Ella, with Jay Ali (“Carnival Row,” “Daredevil”) as her husband and Saul Rubinek (“Unforgiven,” “Frasier”) as her father.
Melora Hardin (“The Office,” “The Bold Type”) features as the pioneering doctor managing Ella’s treatment.
Jacknow was tapped to write and direct two short films (“Costume Change” and the short “Clock”) under heavy COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 for the first season of 20th Digital Studio’s “Bite Size Halloween.”
The feature version of “Clock” developed from there and is part of the studio’s existing slate of horror features for Hulu, including “Grimcutty,” “Matriarch,” and the upcoming “Appendage” and “The Mill.”
“Clock” was developed by 20th Digital Studio with David Worthen Brooks, Arbi Pedrossian, and Jenna Cavelle as executive producers. Leal Naim serves as producer with Alex Hansen co-producing.”
Hulu film ‘Clock’ Cast: Principle Leads
Dianna Agron as Ella Patel
Saul Rubinek as Ella’s father Joseph
Jay Ali as Aidan Patel
Melora Hardin as Dr. Elizabeth Simmons
Nikita Patel as Dr. Webber
Rosa Gilmore as Ella’s grandmother
Grace Porter as Shauna
Stefan Sims as Harvey
Murphee Bloom as Young Ella Patel
Jane Schwartz as Ella’s mother
Kat Steffens as Cara
More Hulu Original Film & Series Coverage:
Be sure to read:
– Rodrigo Santoro talks Joel Kelly in Hulu’s Reprisal, Xerxes (Interview)
– Alycia Debnam-Carey fans crowdfund New York City billboard
– Mrs. America, Mulan costume designer Bina Daigeler on researching every detail (Interview)
– ‘Unorthodox’ costume designer on modesty (Interview)
Visit the Interviews section for more exclusive chats with the biggest name talents in the industry.