By Donna Freydkin
French actress Eva Green exudes a mysterious, cool edge. And it’s put to perfect use in “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” with Green playing the pipe-smoking headmistress of a haven for odd kids — those who defy gravity, or house a beehive within themselves, for example.
Green, who most recently embodied seductive, sultry and powerful Vanessa Ives in Showtime’s horror drama “Penny Dreadful,” approached the role in the Tim Burton film with one guiding principle: “That of a dark Mary Poppins. I spoke quite fast. There’s something very sharp and precise about her. No messing around. The bird movements. It could go wrong quickly – that was my worry,” says Green.
She fully embraced her character, who has the same habit as many a detective. “I had two pipes. I kept one of them. I learned how to smoke them. There’s an art to it. It’s a delicate art. It helps me as well to bring a virility to her. It’s such a cool prop,” she says.
Miss Peregrine can transform into a falcon. And she has her own power: the ability to stop time and live in an endless loop. Would Green ever want to do that in real life?
“I don’t think so. The idea of being stuck and being forced to relive things, it’s quite scary. But of course, if it’s a nice holiday – today, I’d like to go to this wonderful holiday in Africa I’d been to,” she says.
It was a vacation that changed her life. “I went to Africa on my own. It’s a bit strange. But I loved it. It was unbelievable. I was scared at the beginning. What am I doing? After a while, there’s something you learn about yourself but only if you’re on your own. There’s something so free about that. It’s empowering,” says Green.
Green broke out in “The Dreamers,” the 2003 deeply erotic film by Bernardo Bertolucci. She went on to play Vesper Lynd in 2006’s “Casino Royale” and Ava Lord in Frank Miller’s and Robert Rodriguez’s “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.”
But at no time in her career has she played the bland girlfriend, or the chipper spouse, or the pretty, wide-eyed arm candy. She has no plans to start now.
“I’ve never really played the love interest. I’ve never, ever accepted a role like that. But here it was nice to have a different goal, to have those children to look after. I love playing the protector,” she says. “I like characters who are complex. That’s why people sometimes say it’s dark. I don’t know what that means. It’s complex. Life is not rosy.”
Like actresses of yore, Green cultivates an air of mystery about herself. She is not on social media. She doesn’t do much press. And she doesn’t air her romantic dirty laundry in public.
“I feel like I’m old school,” she says of Twitter and Instagram. “It’s kind of scary. I could get addicted as well and I don’t want to get there. I understand that sometimes those media are good for a cause, or political things, for your work, that I understand. But to say you picked your nose at 4:30, that’s alien to me. You don’t want to give too much away. Look at me!”