Micky Levy is living the American Dream. Born and raised in Israel, Levy landed on U.S. soil at the age of 17. With $700 to her name, she pulled up her bootstraps, learned how to speak English and began working her way through the often convoluted rungs of the Hollywood ladder. This past year saw the major release of her second feature film, Rails & Ties, for which she took on the roles of both writer and actress. Directed by Alison Eastwood (daughter of the legendary Clint), the movie stars Kevin Bacon as a train conductor who takes to the victim of a rail accident he had unintentionally been a part of. Along with his wife, played by Marcia Gay Harden, he discovers it’s never too late to open your heart—and your life—to someone new. Here, Levy talks to MM about her dual roles and inspirations.

Mallory Potosky (MM): You’re an actress as well as a screenwriter, so what came first—your desire to be in front of the camera or behind the scenes?

Micky Levy (ML): Writing is my first passion. When I was a teenager I used to write short stories and poetry. I discovered acting when I moved to Los Angeles. I enjoy both, but they are very different disciplines. I find that I enjoy writing more, because I can do it every day. It’s a very self-contained form of creativity; one needs only a computer, or a pen and a [piece of] paper.

MM: In Rails & Ties you play Detective Crane and in your previous film 2 on U, you were a leading player. Do you write certain characters with yourself in mind?

ML: No, I never write with myself in mind. The characters, leading or supporting, have their own life and evolution.

MM: Where did the idea for this story originate? It’s pretty dark.

ML: The idea came after I interviewed an Amtrak train engineer, who told me about train suicides. When he spoke of them, he explained that suicides were routine on the tracks—they happened often and were a part of his job. He denied that having to run people over with his train was an emotional problem for him. However, it was apparent to me that it was; those suicides haunted him. I developed the story from there.

MM: Where do you find your writing inspiration in general? Is it a place? Personal experiences?

ML: I think that all writing, at least for me, comes from a personal experience or an aspect of it. I do find inspiration in places. I love to travel and take in new worlds/cultures/people and then capture their experience in a story.

MM: You had some pretty high profile people working on this film and I’m sure the fact that it was Alison Eastwood’s first film didn’t help. Did you ever feel any pressure?

ML: Of course there was pressure, but I was working with very experienced people who made everything easier.