By Stephen Schaefer
As the protective mistress of a troupe of World War II orphans, Eva Green vividly creates a woman with extraordinary powers in Tim Burton’s “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” (now in theaters).
In 1943, with Nazi Germany bombing Britain, Green’s Miss Peregrine fiercely guards her young charges — each of whom has a distinctive “peculiarity,” like the ability to freeze objects, float up into the sky or ignite fires.
Their mistress has a power of her own: the ability to transform into a peregrine falcon.
For Green, 36, that meant screening a 1965 film classic and meeting a falcon.
“The indication Tim gave me was, ‘She’s like a weird Mary Poppins.’ So I watched ‘Mary Poppins.’ It’s more than she can fly. It’s more the physicality because of her bird-like quality.
“A peregrine falcon is a bird of prey. It’s the fastest animal on the planet, so doing a Tim Burton movie, you have to bring an edge to it. You move your head quite sharply. You can’t blink. I had to deliver the lines very fast, sort of like Mary Poppins on speed. That was fun!”
As for that falcon, “It was quite regal, actually. There’s something quite acute and fascinating. They remain quite still, and in a second, grab the prey — and that’s it.
“That’s why Tim calls her ‘Scary Poppins’ — because she’s a bird of prey; she can kill to protect her children. But she has that maternal quality as well.”
Did Green, who just ended her “Penny Dreadful” series on Showtime, get in touch with her inner bird?
“God! It’s true,” she said, laughing. “It’s not too easy playing a bird. It’s all very angular, precise. On my own, I tried to be a bit sharp. It’s just a feeling — you worry: ‘I might have gone too far, done too much.’ But Tim’s there, and he would say, ‘less,’ ‘more.’ ”
As this film is Green’s second collaboration with Burton, following 2012’s “Dark Shadows,” some critics have anointed her as the legendary filmmaker’s muse.
“I don’t know. Muse is such a big word. It’s quite intimidating, a big responsibility. I’m just flattered he asked me to be part of this adventure.”