Besides her role in the 2009 horror film House of the Devil — in which she was shot in the head — Greta Gerwig has carved out her niche as a smart, down-to-earth object of affection in romantic comedies. In Arthur, she was pursued by Russell Brand. In Greenberg, the 27-year-old California native was squired by elderly Ben Stiller. Such mainstream moments aside, Gerwig is a product of the indie-film mumblecore genre, which describes low-budget, improvisational movies about relationships between young people. And since few things are as low budget or improvisational as a mixtape for a potential paramour, we had Gerwig assemble an exclusive blend of tracks that chronicles a relationship’s lifespan: flirtatious beginnings, agile sex, blissful contentment, and the eventual decline into shattered sadness. The perfect soundtrack for dates, really.

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What are some songs you would be excited to hear on a mixtape made for you?

Someone recently gave me a mixtape and they put something on it that I didn’t know, and I loved it so much. It’s “Baby Doll” by Laurie Anderson. I really cotton to things that I don’t know. And if they know me well enough to know I’d love it, that’s what I go for. Anything from a musical, I might think they’re gay — but I’d really love it. I have dated a lot of guys that ended up gay, so that makes sense.

 

For you, it’s a harbinger of what to anticipate down the line?

I just love musicals, to be totally honest. Anything by the Beach Boys. I want to hear the Beach Boys all the time. And I feel as good about the Beach Boys as I feel not good about running. Which is very not good.

Since you’re from Sacramento, I would give you some West Coast gangster rap. Like Mac Mall, or AMG’s “Bitch Betta Have My Money.” Romantic stuff.

Maybe Southern rap circa 2002, like Paul Wall. “Ms. New Booty” would be pretty good too. I like the whole genre of rap where people give out their cell phone numbers, and it’s actually their cell phone numbers.

What would you put on a mixtape for someone new?

You’re like two weeks into it, and you want to tell them you’re in love with them? “Love Hangover” by Diana Ross. If you start out with “Love Hangover,” you’re the biggest cheese ball in the world. But if you establish the fact that you have great taste and know how to be self-deprecating in your music, then you can totally earn it.

 

Are there any songs that would totally turn you off?

If you put the one Grizzly Bear song that was in an advertisement, I’d be like, ehhh. If you’ve ever seen an ad for UPS, you would have heard that song. Track listing order annoys me. If you’re going to take the time to make a mixtape, put it in the order you want it to be heard. Finish strong.

I would be infuriated by MGMT’s “Electric Feel.”

That would be super infuriating. Why don’t we make the worst mixtape ever? Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime.” Who is this for? Or the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

That could be a revenge mixtape.

There’s a whole narrative there. I’m too scared to make a mixtape for anyone now. I’ve thought too much about it.

Greta Gerwig's Relationship Mixtape

1. "Boom! There She Was,” Scritti Politti

2. “Do Ya,” Electric Light Orchestra

3. “Lay My Love,” Brian Eno and John Cale

4. “Ride My Wheels,” T. Rex

5. “Pony” Ginuine

6. “Freek’n You” remix, Jodeci featuring Ghostface Killah and Raekwon

7. “Everywhere,” Fleetwood Mac

8. “You Got It,” Roy Orbison

9. “Love Hangover,” Diana Ross

10. “Easy,” The Commodores

11. “Casey Jones,” Grateful Dead

12. “Are You Sleeping?” Harry Nilsson

13. “The Girl Stands Up to Me Now,” Jonathan Richman

14. “I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass,” Nick Lowe

15. “The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get,” Morrissey

16. “Time to Get Away,” LCD Soundsystem

17. “99 Problems,” Jay Z

(This article originally appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of ANTENNA.)