M.   /   December 15, 2007   /   6 Comments

By TAN SHZR EE

IF French femme fatale Eva Green had her way, her “daemon” would be a frog.

So claims the 27-year-old Bond girl who plays “good witch” Serafina Pekkala in the film adaptation of Philip Pullman’s cult novel, The Golden Compass (the movie opened in Malaysia on Dec 6).

Tucking a swan-like neck into slender shoulders in an oh-so-French expression of deep, mock-thought (you can almost hear her thinking “pfff…!” aloud), she reveals this crucial fact at a recent press interview in London after contorting her face with ungainly pursings of her mouth and a roll of those signature kohl-rimmed eyes.

In a less beautiful person, it would be grotesque. But you forgive Green, because she is, simply, quirky.

But why frog? – a gaggle of American reporters flown in from Los Angeles choruses in dismay.

Clearly, Green has broken a cardinal rule of Hollywood PR-ness: The right answer is surely something more elegant, mysterious and in groove with the high-gloss image the film’s studio executives have taken the trouble to create in an expensive publicity campaign for the movie.

The actress retorts, with a sharp twist of that pretty head, looking askance at you: “Because I’m French.”

You can smell the je ne sais quoi in her answer. But Green’s gesture is interpreted as pretentious bitchtalk – as the Americans at the table later decide, erupting into a raucous deconstruction of the interview.

“What was that all about?”

“Did you see her the first time when she was doing press for Bond? She was seriously nervous. Oh, and her English.”

“I heard she stomped off an event halfway….”

And so the tittle-tattle continues.

Green isn’t exactly your goody-two-shoes, “smile-from-the-depths-of-your-soul-in-soothing-affirmatory-tones” kind of actress.

On the other hand, she isn’t the black-stockinged femme fatale of her other claims to fame – via Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers (2003) and Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven (2005) – either.

Shrugging into a fidgety leather jacket strapped over what must surely be a hideous, orange plaid (and moulting) floor-length skirt, she wants to be more screwball than seductive – for now.

“It’s quite cool because it’s a witch first of all,” she says of the role in writer/director Chris Weitz’s film, which also stars Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman.

“All girls want to be a witch. But unfortunately, I’m not a bad witch. It’s a bit more complex. I’d have to be a clever, clever sprite – a phee-losophical witch.”

Ask her about the experience of acting, and she tells you, quite perfunctorily, that there was none involved.

“It’s not really acting – all my acting scenes are with the child (Dakota Blue Richards) and Lee Scoresby (Sam Elliot). It’s more a challenge to fly and ride,” she reveals, adding – to gasps all round – that she did not enjoy being up in the air at all.

“It was scary. I had to concentrate very hard, thinking: I’m going to land, land, land.”

Not that the daughter of an Algerian-born French actress and Swedish dentist is getting too heady for her newfound fame, however.

Brought up in France, England and trained in film directing at the Tisch School of Arts, Green is multi-lingual and also writes music.

“I still have to prove a lot,” she says, however. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, she reckons: “I’m not followed in the streets, people don’t recognise me here.”

It helps, of course, that she apparently doesn’t wear her famous panda eye make-up everywhere.

“When I’m doing press, I put eet on – it’s a look I like,” she says, lifting both arms into the air and towards you in a gesture of – voila!

“Otherwise, when I wake up in the morning, eet ees not there, my face is clean.”

With The Golden Compass about to open at the time of this interview, Casino Royale behind her, and a third film – Franklyn, co-starring Ryan Phillippe and Bernard Hill – in post-production, Green is somewhere between blase and anxious about what might come up next.

Still smarting from having half her scenes cut out in the critically panned Kingdom of Heaven, she lights up in joy when someone at the table raves over her re-incorporated scenes in the DVD release.

“Oh! I am sooo happy you liked it!”

Otherwise, she is happy to just be – French.

What will she do after The Golden Compass takes off? A sequel? Another Bond role?

“I don’t know. I just want to go lie on a beach,” she says airily.

Where? – asks a male reporter.

“Australia.”

Sydney? You have friends there?

“Oh yeeees. I ’ave friends in Australia.”

Which hotel? – another cheeky person ventures.

Green puts on her famous femme fatale, withering look.

“Oh dear,” she says with a mock sigh, looking sympathetically at the journalist from under a tilted head, placing a comforting hand on his notepad and giving the tiniest, imperceptible nod.

What she says next is such a whisper you can barely hear her: “I don’t know.”

Time runs out, and a studio babysitter shepherds the actress out of the room. Lifting herself up like a ballerina leaving a smorgasboard buffet table untouched, she marches out of the room purposefully, her bunned-up and wispy hair intact around her like a black halo.

You decide that the moulting orange skirt isn’t looking too bad after all. – The Straits Times, Singapore / Asia News Network

# ‘The Golden Compass’ is showing in cinemas nationwide.

Source: The Star Online eCentral

6 Responses to “Good witch Green”
  1. Tango_down Says:

    Is is a caricature or an interview ?
    The journalists don’t have any humour regarding the frog, she can invent the daemon she wants by joking without wondering the question what kind of image it gives for the movie’s promotion, it’s ridiculous
    I have impression to have read the same interview before retranscribed in another way (same part concerning her travel to Australia, except if she decided to go back there again), I don’t like the tone of this one and how it represents Eva as an eccentric
    I love subjective journalism

  2. George Says:

    I needed a vocabulary to understand the interview with so many sarcastic expressions (it’s clear that the interviewer treat her with a good dose of irony). It seems that he/she didn’t like her answers or her answering style (…his/her problem). However, this is the Eva’s image I like: to express loudly what she feels and not being another “comme il faut”

  3. EvaAnne Says:

    A nice impression piece. I find her such an interesting person. It would be lovely to meet her, someday…

  4. Monique Says:

    EvaAnne: I agree…I’d like to meet her as well someday…she seems so interesting, so unorthodox…

    Who wrote this piece? You can almost see the sarcasm dripping from it…they’re just so used to actresses being all sweet and doing that whole “sugar and spice and everything nice” bit…but that’s not Eva…some writers who are used to those actresses don’t know how to place her, just because she’s different and she doesn’t spew out sickeningly sweet s**t (forgive my language), so they treat with sarcasm, or they patronise her, like she’s just some kid who wants her own way…fortunately, some writers don’t, but I think this one did…
    aaaand I’ll stop now…

  5. spot Says:

    it’s sad but that’s the way the PR mill in Hollywood works. i’m glad Eva’s not the type who would conform…but then, that’s why i adore her! 😉

  6. Loker Says:

    A nice impression piece. I find her such an interesting person. It would be lovely to meet her, someday… better tomorrow.