M.   /   December 07, 2007   /   8 Comments

Jamie Portman
CanWest News Service

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Eva Green figures it must be easier to be a real witch than a make-believe one. At least, she says she’d be able to control her broomstick and not cope with invisible wires.

In The Golden Compass, the dark-eyed beauty plays Serafina Pekkala, queen of a witch clan and an ally of the film’s beleaguered child heroine, Lyra. Green likes her character, but found many of the shooting days painful because she spent so much of the time “flying” through the air.

“It was not special effects,” she says firmly. “I was really in the air, suspended on wires, and I had to land very sharply. That was not my favourite thing, I would say. But I learned a lot and survived.

“I was surrounded by very patient stunt people. You really have to be calm . . . just to focus . . . to concentrate.”

One lesson she learned was not to attempt to act when she was up on wires. She reserved her thespian skills for her grounded scenes with Dakota Blue Richards, who plays Lyra.

A fantasy film like The Golden Compass is a complete change of pace from last year’s Casino Royale in which she played the love interest of James Bond, played by Daniel Craig, who also has a role in The Golden Compass. But Green was in the mood for trying something completely different.

“First of all, she’s a witch. It’s quite cool. And I love the books (by Philip Pullman). The books are very rich, very complex and this is not like a typical fantasy adventure. It’s very clever, very spiritual, very philosophical, and it’s also full of magic.”

Green stresses that Serafina is not a traditional witch. “She’s very maternal and nurturing towards Lyra. It’s quite a mysterious role, which I found very attractive.”

Still, she wanted Serafina to be “a bit scary” when she makes her first appearance and “not be like ‘Oh, I’m a good witch . . . how are you doing?'”

Green points out that in the story “every new person Lyra meets is a potential danger. You don’t know who they are. Serafina is testing her. She wants to know if she’s the child of the prophecy.”

She’s looking forward to playing Serafina in the film versions of the next two books in Pullman’s trilogy because her character becomes much more important. Green is also continuing to adjust to the career boost which Casino Royale gave her. She’s not that happy about becoming more famous but she admits it has its advantages.

“It gives you more opportunities, more scripts. But I think it’s still quite hard to get good material, and I still have to prove a lot as an actress. I don’t want to be typecast as an enigmatic femme fatale – that kind of thing.”


Sam Elliott, an actor who looks and sounds as though he’s loped in from the open range, has always been ready to speak his mind. And when it comes to The Golden Compass, in which he plays a heroic Texan “aeronaut” named Lee Scoresby, he has no hesitation in saying that when he saw an early cut of New Line’s $200 million adventure fantasy, he was concerned.

“I thought, ‘Hmmm, they’ve got a lot of work to do,'” he drawls. Then he saw the final version and “it’s like a different film . . . Fortunately, they have incredibly deep pockets and a huge band of people and some incredibly talented studio people. They pulled it off.”

Elliott is also honest in suggesting that director Chris Weitz, who left the project at one point before being persuaded to come back, was in big trouble at the beginning.

“I think Chris was in deep – in deep water. Deep water will drown you if you can’t swim. Chris Weitz couldn’t swim.”

But, he adds, Weitz learned to swim and deal with the technical challenges “because he’s a very bright guy.”

“He quit the movie, and they hired another director (Anand Tucker). They hired some guy who didn’t see eye to eye with anybody, they ended up going back to Chris, and Chris came back on again. I’m glad he did. I really like Chris. He’s a very nice man.”

Elliott, who has acted with many children in the course of his career, is also a fan of Dakota Blue Richards, who plays the film’s young heroine.

“She’s an incredible kid. She’s sweet, she’s bright, she’s fearless.”

But the shaggy-haired actor admits that some kid stars can be awful. “I’ve worked with some precocious little pains in the ass – they’re there. But I’ve also worked with many older pains in the asses . . . .”


Daniel Craig, whose performance last winter in Casino Royale recharged the James Bond franchise, says he’s learning to cope with his post-007 fame.

“Having a sense of humour is really key,” says Craig, who plays a questing aristocrat in The Golden Compass, the first instalment of fantasy author Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy.

“You have to have a sense of humour with these things, and I’ve just tried to remain who I am. My life has changed. It’s changed in the fact that I don’t have the freedoms I did before, but I have a whole lot of other freedoms that have come along.”

But he admits he resisted playing Bond until he saw the final script for Casino Royale.

“I’ve always been a Bond fan and I’ve always wanted the films to be good. When I read the script, I thought there was a genuine opportunity to make a good movie with a classic icon figure.”

Craig had no worries about taking on another franchise with The Golden Compass because of his admiration for novelist Philip Pullman.

“I’m such a big fan of Philip Pullman and his philosophies and his morals and the way he looks at the world . . . and the lessons in the stories. He does what he does brilliantly as a writer.”

Source: The Gazette (Montreal) 2007

8 Responses to “Golden Compass stars open up”
  1. Lola Says:

    I found a tiny piece about Eva on page 17 of UK paper The Daily Mail, Thurs 6th Dec. ‘James Bond beauty Eva Green, 27, says she collects religious icons and never travels without a good book such as, “Antal Szerb’s Oliver VII”. Szerb, you’ll recall, was an obscure Hungarian scholar whose novel Oliver VII is described as a “Pirandellian fantasy about a king staging a coup against himself’.” Clever Eva!’ This little snippet was written by Ephraim Hardcastle

  2. George Says:

    Lola you are very good in Eva-data mining !

  3. Lola Says:

    Aaaww, thanks Georgey! xx

  4. Lola Says:

    Oh, I almost forgot, the Grazia (UK) Best Dressed 2007 issue is out next week & I voted for her, of course, so hopefully she’ll make it on to the list. George, did you see the links I posted to vote for Eva in the style/fashion/acting stakes a few post ago?

  5. Lola Says:

    I posted it with the ‘Press Conference’ images, so get your friends involved and go crazy with the voting!

  6. George Says:

    Lola: Yes my finger is cramped from voting. Most of them allow multiple voting (…or at least I think so)

  7. Lola Says:

    George: Excellent!

  8. supa Says:

    i av got my finger ready!