G   /   March 27, 2019   /   0 Comments

 
Photographer: Nick Hudson
Styling: Nicky Yates
Hair: Adir Abergel
Make-Up: Kate Lee
Full photoshoot credit can be found on Eva Green Web’s official Instagram page.

 

by Nick Curtis
 
 
She’s absolutely A-list yet somehow an outsider… Beautiful but insecure… Nick Curtis tangos with the fascinating Dumbo star, Eva Green.

Days after cavorting poolside in bright sunshine and brighter frocks for the pictures on these pages, Eva Green is back in her trademark funereal black: leggings, biker boots and a sleeveless, lace-edged mini-dress matching her tied-back raven hair (dyed, she’s really a blonde) and smoky eyeshadow.

‘I have embraced my Gothic-ness, because everyone says that’s what I am,’ jokes the 38-year-old French-born, London-based actress. ‘Black is just concretely very easy to wear. It makes you thin. And you can be a dirty girl and it won’t show.’ She flashes the lascivious grin that has bewitched audiences since her cinematic debut in Bernardo Bertolucci’s erotic reverie The Dreamers 16 years ago.

We’ve met in a suite at Le Bristol hotel in Paris to discuss Green’s role in Tim Burton’s remake of Disney’s Dumbo, also a mixture of bright colour and darkness. Using live-action and CGI, Burton retains the original cartoon’s circus setting and the core love story between the titular flying baby elephant and his mother. But he adds a parallel and typically bittersweet human narrative. Colin Farrell plays a showman who lost his wife to influenza, and is struggling to raise two young children who become Dumbo’s friends and keepers. Green is trapeze artist Colette, whose circus-impresario sugar daddy (Michael Keaton) spies a commercial opportunity: a pretty girl on a flying elephant’s back — with no safety net.

‘I see her like a bird in a gold cage,’ says Green of her character. ‘She lives in luxury, is able to live her passion as an aerialist but she is lying to herself. When she meets Dumbo she realises her life is empty and she wants love in her life and a family. It’s wonderful that Disney chose Tim for this because you know it’s not going to be all unicorns and rainbows.’ This is her third time working with Burton, after the vampire Goth-comedy Dark Shadows and the oddball fairy tale Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, but she demurs when I suggest she is his muse. ‘I pinch myself every time he asks me to work with him.’

And no, despite tabloid speculation — fed by the fact that Burton dated one regular leading lady, Lisa Marie, for years, then married and had two children with Helena Bonham Carter — she and the director are not a couple. ‘He is a lovely man and I love him, but no. NO!’ This is a rare decisive statement by Green on her romantic life: she has never confirmed rumoured past relationships with co-stars Marton Csokas and Michael Pitt, and she won’t say if she is currently single. ‘Such a boring question! I will remain mysterious.’

There is something of the caged bird about Green herself. She says she hates talking about herself in interviews — and hates going to parties — because she is shy. And though she is not the first actress to claim to be a bashful flower, I think it is the juxtaposition of this reticence and her openness on screen that makes her fascinating. She is all balance and counterpoint: glamour and seriousness; candour and caution; French swagger and British reserve.

Born in Paris, Green’s background is a study in opposites. Her father, Walter, is of Swedish extraction, her mother, Marlène Jobert, of French Algerian and Sephardi Jewish descent: he a sensible dentist, she an actress feted in France for her work with Louis Malle and Jean-Luc Godard. Green says it was partly a fear of being seen as ‘the daughter of’ her starry mother that prompted her move to London after the critical and commercial success of The Dreamers. ‘I wanted to be my own person and go to another country. I loved London — I studied there [at Webber Douglas drama academy] before I moved there — and I bought a little flat in Primrose Hill, my agent looked after me and I began to make friends. I can’t say Paris is ugly but it lacks trees and London has that village feel. People are less judgemental in London and I love the British sense of humour.’

When she got back to Paris the day before our meeting she could ‘smell the fires’ set by rioting gilets jaunes, whom she mentions with an eye-roll. She hopes Brexit doesn’t mean she has to leave Britain. Moving to LA was never an option: ‘I went there for The Dreamers and I hated it. I hated meeting people. It was the cliché of the plastic smiles and the dead eyes and “we love you” but there is nothing behind it.’

She remains something of an outsider: the French actress who works in English, the star who says her on-set friendships tend to be with make-up artists. Her professional life and her public persona are full of odd dualities, too. She was the Bond girl who kept her clothes on and broke 007’s heart in Casino Royale, the buttoned-up Victorian heroine who raved and spoke in tongues in John Logan’s Grand Guignol horror-fiction mash-up, Penny Dreadful. She mounted a typically Gallic defence of nude scenes in The Dreamers and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, and worked for convicted sex offender Roman Polanski on the basis that he was a ‘great artist’. And she only confirmed that she was one of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged victims when her mother told a journalist Green had fought off his advances during a business meeting.

‘He was like a god,’ Green says now, never once mentioning Weinstein by name. ‘He could make you, destroy you. You think, maybe something will change — I could win an Oscar! So the first time you meet him you feel privileged. But what happened [to him] is a miracle. There is justice. But you know, there are a***holes everywhere, in every field.’ She is delighted that there is a greater awareness of sexual harassment on sets now, and by the demise of abusers and the burgeoning power of female directors. But one by-product of the new climate, the use of intimacy coaches to choreograph love scenes, makes her laugh. ‘They have a coach for sex scenes? I think that is quite funny,’ she says, then immediately contradicts herself. ‘But I believe the way to kill the fear of the sex scene is to rehearse it like a dance or a fight. So clinically you say, you do this, you grab my hand, you do that, rather than get carried away by passion.’

She has a similarly contradictory attitude to her looks. For years she hated it when people said she was beautiful, wanting to be taken seriously as an actress, but now admits she fears the advance of age. ‘There is always that insecurity. You depend on the desire of people. I read interviews with women going [smug voice], “Oh, I’m soooo confident now I am in my 30s or in my 40s, I have found myself.” Well, actually, pfft, it is difficult for an actor, or for any woman, ageing. You think, my God, will people still like me? I’ll be in my 40s soon but I always feel like I am 15.’

I expect Green not to answer when I ask if she wants a family of her own, but she says: ‘I don’t know. You need to find the right person. And I hate planning. In three months I might be on a job. Or I might be dead tomorrow.’ Her career would indeed make it hard to settle: in the past year, she has spent six months in New Zealand filming the historical outback TV series The Luminaries, and shot the astronaut movie Proxima in France, Russia and Kazakhstan. ‘Sometimes I wish I had a talent to be a writer, or also to direct,’ she says.

Half-joking, I ask if she ever considered following in the footsteps of her father rather than her mother. ‘Oh God, no!’ she almost shouts. ‘Seeing people’s mouths every day. I always think about men being gynecologists and seeing vaginas all day. How can you not be put off? No, that would not attract me at all.’ Which I realise is a very typical Eva Green reply.

Dumbo is released on 29 March.

Comments are closed.