By Nick Romano
“This is just like speed dating,” Eva Green laughs as she slides into my booth.
Along with the other main cast of “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” she’s been cycling through journalists all day with new face popping by her table every few minutes for a quick chat.
When she gets to me, we have 10 minutes to discuss the Tim Burton film in the Gallow Green restaurant of the McKittrick Hotel in New York City, which is a dim-lit, fantastical eatery with an antique subway decorated with potted plants serving as our lunch spot. When our time is up, she’ll move on and repeat the process with another member of the press. So, yeah, it is like speed dating.
What do we use for ice breakers? The usual: the Lynchian menagerie that is this restaurant, the bird cage decorating her hotel room, and changing things up from her femme fatales roles by playing someone who would die for her children.
Moviefone: So, how is your day so far? Have you had a chance to explore this area?
Eva Green: No, no. I just stayed in my room. It was red and there was a bird cage in the back. It’s cool. It’s surreal. It’s like a [David] Lynch movie, like in “Twin Peaks.” I mean, my room was like that. It was all in red.
Yeah, I just got off the elevator and they were like, “Okay, you’re going into this room.” And I was like, “Is this a hotel?”
It is a hotel?
What? Like, for when you have an affair or something? It’s weird.
Alright, well, let’s jump right into this …
[Laughs] What’s your favorite color?
Right? I’m really curious how the character of Miss Peregrine was first pitched to you. Had you heard of the books at all, or were you going off of descriptions of her?
No. I remember Tim just said to me, it’s kind of a weird Mary Poppins, and I was like, “Oh, I always wanted to play kind of Mary Poppins.” And, yeah, he sent me the book — and, actually, I don’t know if you’ve read the book or saw pictures of the original Miss Peregrine, but she’s kind of austere. It’s something, you know, like long skirt and glasses, and Tim also set it in the ’40s and he wanted her to be a bit more rock ‘n’ roll, and a bit more wacko.
Did you notice any changes in the script after you got the role, if it had been catered to you as an actress?
You mean, compared to the book?
Or, when you were first discussing the role, did you have a script?
No. There was no script. He sent me the book and I thought — very often, you’re kind of disappointed. You read the book and then the script is not as faithful and whatever, and I think here it’s such a perfect novel for Tim. You look at the pictures — it’s quite spooky, it’s quite poetic. Tim is like a perfect marriage — [book author] Ransom Riggs, Tim Burton — and Tim added lots of new elements to it and he made it resonate for himself.
How did you make the character resonate for yourself?
What is the trick in that kind of role? I mean, of course, she’s a supernatural being: she can manipulate time, transform into a bird. It’s to keep the humanity and to — you know she’s tough, she has those rules, but she’ll do anything for her children, she’d die for them, that’s what drew me to this.
I really liked some of the special effects in this. I was remembering back to a scene with Asa [Butterfield] in the attic, and it looked like it was stop-motion animation for two of the puppets. I was wondering if there was any practical effects that surprised you.
It’s weird because, I mean, I’ve done movies with green screen, but this one, we had a real house in Belgium, it was a real garden, we had real topiaries, like animal-shaped topiaries or whatever. And it was a luxury to have real surroundings. The only thing I had to do was the transformation of a bird. Of course, I did have of it on wires and then the visual effects people, who are amazing, did their magic.
I remember you had an interview and you said along the lines of you didn’t want to be typecast as a “weirdo” character.
Do you feel like you are typecast?
I think people say I always play dark characters or femme fatales, and I wanted to tell them, but I said, “Uh, femme fatales?” “Sin City,” the woman’s a femme fatale. “300,” she’s kind of, but I’m always — yeah, I mean, I don’t know if people haven’t seen all my movies, but I’m drawn to characters who are quite complicated, maybe, or dense. So, maybe they’re dark, but I think dark means complicated. Maybe I should do a romantic-comedy in L.A. or something. [Laughs]
Is that always going on in the back of your mind, to differentiate between roles?
I don’t want to be in a box. I want to play different things. That’s why I like playing the mother figure in this movie. I’m not a love interest, I just live for my children.
I was gonna ask you about the fantasy genre. You’ve more than gotten your feet wet in this. Now there’s sort of this trend, like, with “A Monster Calls” and “Miss Peregrine,” of this idea of children using fantasy worlds to escape to cope with some sort of tragedy or trauma or something like that. From your perspective, having been in the business for so long, what is your favorite part about working within the fantasy genre?
Oh wow. I don’t know. I love watching that kind of thing. It’s escape, it’s entertaining, but at the end of the day, I think that’s why you would like specific fantasy adventures. You can identify, understand the heart of the characters, still find something real and relate to them in a human way.
I’m curious, too, because you did “Dark Shadows” with Tim Burton. Has he changed his directing philosophy or his relationship with the actors since then?
Oh, I don’t know. There’s always a freedom, actually, and he wants the actor to really feel comfortable. So he’s open to suggestions, even to the kids. Like he would go, “How do you feel?” It’s so wonderful. There’s no ego ’cause, you know — “I’m the director, you do what I want.” You know? There is a lot of respect and, I don’t know … He has total faith in you and you feel trusted and loved and ready to give everything.
Now, we’re in this incredible moment, I feel, where fans are demanding more diversity and more equality in terms of Hollywood and landing roles, and there’ve been such strides in gender equality. And I was wondering, from your perspective as a woman in Hollywood, what is your temperature check of the situation. Do you see change happening dramatically?
For me, the most drastic thing is it sounds like television is really the future. I don’t know, it’s kind of a bit scary. I love television, but there is, you know, so quick, that change. So I just hope people will still go to the cinema. I don’t know. It’s a strange.
Yeah, I mean, even Netflix, too. They’ve changed the game almost.
And now I can watch all of “Penny Dreadful” on Netflix, pretty much. Has that been playing in your mind? Have you been actively thinking about trying something like a Netflix series or something that’s exclusively streaming?
It is the future. But I think, as an actor, I know like, for example, I heard Ewan McGregor is doing Season 3 of “Fargo,” and if you do one season, that I’d be ready. It’s just giving many years on something, I think it’s healthy to explore different characters. If I can choose, I’d love to do that, but yeah, it is the future.
Our speed date is over.
Yeah. What do you think? [Laughs]