By Naomi Pike
Eva Green might be a Bond girl, a Hollywood leading lady and a BAFTA winner, but she’ll never forget her first time gracing the cover of Vogue. Green’s debut was almost eight years ago, but she can recall the shoot with Patrick Demarchelier as though it was yesterday.
“He is such a wonderful photographer and it’s effortless as well. It’s timeless and sophisticated and I always love his use of lighting. He’s an artist that doesn’t have an ego. There is a relationship with him – it’s not that I’m an object.” The rapport that the pair share is visible in the black and white images that the shoot produced. She’s laughing and pulling faces, but strikes a glamorous pose in Prada on the cover.
While she might be happy to reminisce over her time shooting for Vogue, one thing she confesses she is “not great” is watching her own films. When we meet she is yet to see Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, in which she takes the titular role.
Another part of the acting rigmorale that Green prefers to steer away from – and is now in a position to have the option to avoid – is auditioning. “I’m always blessed when I’m not auditioning. I hate auditions. I’m rubbish, actually, and I get so nervous. My heart is about to pop out. It’s a disaster.”
Green is not a person you think of having a nervous disposition. On the red carpet she chooses bold yet ephemeral styles – something that could be linked to the characters she has chosen to play in her over 15 years on screen.
“It’s funny really as I don’t really have time to try on clothes,” she remarks as the conversation turns to the “baroque” aesthetic that she has become synonymous with. For the premiere of the film which marks the second time she has worked with Tim Burton, Green chose a scarlet Elie Saab gown.
However, securing her first choice was a bit more problematic. “I would have loved to wear an original Alexander McQueen dress, because he loved birds,” she reveals. As the name might suggest, her character Miss Peregrine is able to transform into a peregrine falcon, so a feathered gown would have felt particularly apt. “But it’s all in museums,” she sadly confesses.
Green first made a name for herself in Bernardo Bertolucci’s 2003 film The Dreamers, and the now 36-year-old admits that the pressures of being an actress in Hollywood have altered for her. Now it is age as well as “fighting to not play a love interest.”
Green has kept her personal life out of the public eye. Unlike many of her peers, her social-media presence is minimal. Her friends keep trying to persuade her to join Instagram but she fears the intrusion. “I prefer having my own bubble and I would feel too vulnerable to have it exposed. I think I’ve always protected myself quite well but it’s always been tough since day one. That’s the big challenge, and at the same time to remain vulnerable as an actor. Sometimes I just want to say ‘fuck it, I’m going to in the mountains with my animals’ and not to have to deal with all that cruelty.”
They say you should never work with children or animals, but with the majority of the roles in Miss Peregrine being played by those not yet able to even hold a UK driving licence, she was left with little choice. Not that her experience was anything but pleasant. “Sometimes you worry are they going to be focused enough? Are they going to get tired? And actually absolutely all of them were focused, very professional. They were just beautiful. I was so nervous before meeting them because you can feel that they can see through you, and you’re not going to be credible as a strong headmistress-like figure. But there is a grace to children and as an actress that is wonderful to watch. It’s a real inspiration.”
The book that which this film is based on was released for the YA audience 2011, but feels completely at home in the world of Tim Burton. The characters as atypical as the ones most associated with him: Edward Scissorhands, Jack Skellington, the Maitlands.
Much like her feelings for Demarchelier, Green has great affection for Burton. Ahead of this film, the two had previously worked together on 2012’s Dark Shadows.
“He is so easy to work with,” she says warmly. “The wonderful thing about Tim is that he has no ego. He is very kind, normal and fragile. There is something equal with him that I love. Even working with the children he was like ‘What do you think? How do you feel?’ which is so nice. He’s so open to ideas as well. He’s wonderful and amazing.”
As it to be expected in any Burton epic, the visual is as much of a defining characteristic as is the plotline itself. Green’s character is all dark colours, nipped-in waists and striking shoulders. Her signature midnight black hair, which so seduced the camera in Casino Royale, is pinned with a cowlick curl. While her locks might be more on the navy side for this character, in reality Green’s hair is surprisingly little more dramatic than a “mousey” shade, reflecting her Swedish-French roots.
“My dark blonde was actually quite bland,” she confesses, admitting that she has darkened it to have “something happening” since she was a teen. “A friend of my mum had very dark hair. She was from Yugoslavia and I wanted to look like her.”
Besides wanting to look like her mum’s friend, a darker shade did feel more natural for the young actress. But, much like she won’t be defined by the characters she plays, the decision was not as simple as “I am dark, so I should have dark hair”, or a case for wanting to be more easily recognisable. Green admits to possessing the ability to make herself invisible as she walks through London in swathes of scarves and glasses. Unfortunately, with her CV continuing to expand and a beauty as powerful as hers, her anonymity is becoming scarcer and scarcer.