M.   /   November 29, 2009   /   1 Comment

Eva Green’s fascination for unstable characters has drawn the effortlessly chic actress into darker roles, says Evan Fanning

The hotel where I’m due to meet Eva Green is one of those all-white minimalist affairs where the boundaries seem blurred between floor, walls and furniture. There is music playing and glass walls and it all adds up to a feeling of bewilderment as I stumble into the room to see Green perched on a chair like an ice queen with her pale white skin framed by her shoulder-length black hair. Her hair and her black two-piece suit are the only things in the room providing a bit of contrast.

Green looks effortlessly chic as you might expect from a former Bond girl who was raised in Paris and is regarded as a fashion icon. She’s almost vamp-like. I’m half-expecting her to draw on a Gauloises.

It’s early evening now and she has been answering questions about her new movie Cracks all day. When we’re finished she has to leave the hotel and go to a Q&A session about the film. Tomorrow she must go through it all again.

Does she like this part of the film-making process, I wonder? Her hesitation is answer enough. Eventually she laughs. “Like,” she says with a Gallic shrug which does more than words to finish the sentence as “would be too strong a word”.

In fact, she speaks warmly and openly about nearly everything, with the exception of her relationship with New Zealand actor Marton Csokas. Green’s private life is not really up for discussion

At 29, Cracks is her seventh feature but it’s the first time that she has been the real star of the show, the first time it’s been her name above the title. Green plays Miss G, a swimming teacher at a posh English boarding school in the Thirties. Miss G is everything the lives of the students and the school are not, chic, glamorous, bohemian, exotic and worldly — and she is idolised to the point of obsession by her young charges.

The arrival of a new student to the school, a Spanish princess, changes the dynamic and Miss G’s veneer is broken. Upheaval ensues and the lines between lust and attraction are broken.

I wonder if off-screen the young cast idolised and looked up to Green in the way they do to her character. She tells a story of a dinner she had with the cast before filming began where she attempted to impress the younger actresses.

“I was so worried. I had a dinner with the girls the first day. I tried to wear my best outfit and look chic. I felt dreadful. I had such a stomach ache. I was thinking ‘oh God, they are looking at me’. I was afraid of not being a charismatic teacher. But they were lovely. Really normal.”

Though not explicit, there is one nude swimming scene and a hint of eroticism throughout the movie that, seeing as the film involves an older woman with teenage girls, may create some talking points.

Green is unperturbed. “There’s nothing in it. It’s very ‘phew’,” she says with another Gallic shrug. “It’s not The Dreamers (Green’s first film with Bernardo Bertolucci). You don’t see anything, really. The girls kept their panties on. I was like ‘come on’, but no. It’s all pure.”

Miss G is another dark character to add to Green’s canon. It’s a recurring theme. She even managed to star in the darkest Bond movie (Casino Royale) of all-time. “I’ve always been fascinated by imbalanced people,” she explains. “I love characters who look like they have a strong facade and then underneath are some cracks or it’s hidden, it’s mysterious. There’s something very fragile underneath. It’s good.”

Directed by Jordan Scott, Ridley’s daughter, Cracks is a co-production between Ireland, the UK and Spain, and was shot in Wicklow.

“I loved it,” Green says of her time filming here. “I stayed in a flat in Dalkey. I had such a beautiful view. It was really beautiful and Luggala Lake was magical.”

It’s not the first time Green has visited Ireland. As a teenager she spent a summer in Galway learning English as an exchange student. There is no hint of a Galway accent in her conversation today — if anything she could be mistaken for the English gentry — but her vocabulary is flawless.

She remembers being petrified heading from her comfortable home in Paris’s 17th arrondissement to the wilds of the west of Ireland. “I used to do exchanges every year in the summer so I was dreading meeting the new family. It was strange when you think of it.”

The family, however, turned out to be “lovely” and Green remembers the exchange with nothing but fondness. “It was beautiful. We went to those amazing islands on the boat. It was one of my best memories from my childhood. It was a different world.”

She now lives in London where she moved four years ago. “I needed to be a bit further from my parents. It’s not too far, but it’s far enough.”

It also allows her to be with Csokas, who she met while making Kingdom of Heaven. She insists that shop talk is banned from their house, but admits it can be tricky trying to find time to be together.

“It is very difficult. What about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt? I mean they can hire a private jet; a private teacher; a nanny; whatever.”

As a couple they tend to keep to themselves. They certainly don’t throw open their lives to the media, and are rarely seen at anything that isn’t a premiere for one of their films. “I’m not great at socialising and going to parties,” Green says. “I should learn. I should be a bit more ‘blah, blah’ rather than going, ‘Oh no, I have to talk’.”

Marriage and kids, she says, are not something that are currently on the agenda. “It feels like we women need to have children. Like you’re a woman if you have children, but I don’t know. I feel like a baby. The idea is beautiful, but I don’t know.”

There is an underlying current of a frustration when talking to Green about her profession. Not so much with the success she’s had but with the mechanics of it. Her mother, Marlene Jobert, was a French actress of note but gave it up to write children’s books when Eva and her twin sister Joy were kids. Her father was a Swedish dentist (her name is actually pronounced Gren).

She says she never sought her mother’s advice when she began acting, but that she was supportive in allowing her to pursue it. “I just said I’m going to try and see if it works. And now she sees that it’s quite tough and she’s like ‘Well, you chose that crazy job. Good luck to you.’ But she knows it’s difficult, that there’s a lot of competition and it’s very cruel.”

I ask could she ever see herself packing it in, as her mother did, and pursuing something else. “Yeah, I think so. I don’t know what the world will be like in 10 years. I want to be happy so maybe I’ll go to India and find myself somewhere and become a nun.”

The problems arise not when she is working, she says, but when she is not. “A lot of actors exist just through their work when they’re working but they feel empty when they stop. That’s why I think it’s important to have something else in your life to be fulfilled in love or to have another hobby or something.

“It’s great when you’re working, but not when you’re not working, or you’re waiting for the next job and it’s not happening or you’re reading s*** [scripts], love interests or something a bit weak.”

It’s strange to hear her talk like this. From the outside her career would seem to be developing on her own terms. The Dreamers, her first movie, was a sexually explicit and provocative tale set against the backdrop of Les Evenements in Paris in 1968. It caused quite a controversy.

Kingdom of Heaven followed, where she worked with Jordan Scott’s father Ridley, before she landed the role of Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. Being a Bond girl changes everything, of course, although Green has found it is not always positive.

“It makes you more bankable but I still have a lot to prove and people see me as the Bond girl and all the cliches of being a femme fatale. I will never say it’s a curse or anything, but maybe if the movie makes a lot of money, you go to LA and meet agents they say to you ‘we loved your movie’ and it’s like ‘well I’ve done other movies’ but they’re obviously only talking about Bond. It’s the only thing that exists for them. Anyway…”

She trails off again before she goes too far. Her ice-queen demeanour intact. Maybe she is a little bit like the characters she seems drawn to, a strong facade masking her frustrations or perhaps, as in Bertolucci’s film, she is just a dreamer. “You can’t be fulfilled just by acting. There are other things in life. Of course there is love and that’s the most important thing, but I don’t know. I feel like I still have my little journey to do.”

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One Response to “Bond girl polishes over the cracks”
  1. Nikos Says:

    Great Article!