As Eva Green reunites with Tim Burton on the big screen, the former Bond girl chats to Susan Griffin about playing ‘Scary Poppins’ and her memories of Casino Royale, a decade on…
Eva Green is lamenting her age. “I feel old,” she exclaims when asked how it feels to mark a decade since the release of Casino Royale, the Bond movie that marked Daniel Craig’s debut as 007.
Green played Bond girl Vesper Lynd, a role she’s “proud” to have tackled, although she was tentative when first approached.
In her head, she no doubt had visions of playing bikini-clad arm candy, so was pleasantly surprised to hear the outline for the character: a foreign liaison agent who beguiles Bond but whose deception ultimately leads to her demise.
“Vesper was an enigmatic character, but very human, very sensitive, and it was mainly the love story that was very appealing to me in that one,” remarks the 36-year-old actress, beautiful yet delicate-looking in floor-length black lace.
Green was born in Paris but speaks in an acutely-enunciated English accent, her blue-green eyes defined by layers of smoky eye shadow. She’s friendly, but not someone who will fill the air with unnecessary and inane chatter.
The rumours continue as to whether Craig will step down from the role following his fourth outing in last year’s Spectre.
Does she think it’s time for him to hang up the tuxedo?
“I don’t know,” ponders Green. “He does what he wants, but he’s such a wonderful Bond because he’s so in his body. He’s sexy, raw and rugged.”
Since her debut screen role in Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers in 2003, where she and her co-stars, Michael Pitt and Louis Garrel, spent a large proportion of their screen-time naked, the actress has forged a reputation for playing empowered women, entirely confident in their own skin. But they’re not all femme fatales, she notes, as is often perceived.
“I played a femme fatale 100 per cent in [2014’s] Sin City: A Dame To Die For, there are not many dimensions, she’s like a psychopath,” notes Green, who studied acting in London and directing in New York, and won the Bafta Rising Star Award in 2007.
“In the other roles I’ve played – some of the roles anyway – they’re strong women, but there is more behind the strong facade. There are cracks in the armour and they’re quite complex.”
Her Bond role aside, Green’s standout performances include Sibylla, Queen of Jerusalem in Ridley Scott’s A Kingdom Of Heaven, warrior Artemisia in 300: Rise Of An Empire, and the possessed Vanessa Ives in the horror series Penny Dreadful.
In 2012, she also teamed up with Beetlejuice director Tim Burton, as the vampish Angelique Bouchard, opposite Johnny Depp in Dark Shadows.
Asked whether she feels her and the wonderfully eccentric Burton are kindred spirits, she responds: “I understand how he functions. I understand his sensitivity. He’s vulnerable and you can see he’s vulnerable. He’s not hiding and that makes him very wonderful. He is himself and there’s no ego.”
The two have teamed up again. This time for the fantastically dark Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children.
It’s based on the 2011 debut novel by Ransom Riggs, and follows the adventures of Jake (Asa Butterfield) as he travels between alternate times and realities, unearthing the titular house where the residents each boast unusual qualities, such as the ability to control air, or to temporarily give life to inanimate objects.
“Tim called and said, ‘Would you be interested in working with me?’ I said, ‘Yeah, of course,’ and he went, ‘No, no, no, I’m going to send you the book and tell me whether you’re interested’,” remembers Green, who plays Miss Peregrine, a younger incarnation than the character described in the novel.
“I read the book and I thought it was so Tim Burton, immediately I saw the magic he would bring, and the character was really bonkers, in a nice way, so of course I said yes straightaway.”
Burton has referred to Miss Peregrine as ‘Scary Poppins’ and the actress agrees.
“She’s one of those teachers that are a bit scary when you meet them, because she needs to have a lot of authority to be respected by her children, but you discover in the movie that she behaves like this sometimes for their own good. She’s a loving character.”
“Yes! She’s rather eccentric and fearless, and wields a deadly crossbow to protect her ‘Peculiars’,” she laughs.
As does Dame Judi Dench, a fellow ‘ymbrine’, who like Miss Peregrine, can also take the form of a bird.
“I play a bird of prey, a peregrine falcon, she plays an avocet, which is a nervous bird,” Green explains.
“It was interesting to have us both in the same scene. And she’s such an iconic actress, I was very intimidated. She’s a legend and she’s actually very funny on set. A beautiful woman.”
Not only can ymbrines transform themselves into feathered friends, they can also manipulate time, creating time loops in order to protect the ‘Peculiars’ from the monsters that lurk on the outside. Asked if she’d like to travel forward in time, Green shakes her head.
“The future scares me, it’s like, ‘Woah’,” she exclaims, putting her hands out in protective mode.
But then so does the idea of reliving the same day over and over again, as Miss Peregrine and the children do.
“I think to relive something every day is pretty scary. I would prefer to move forward.”