Eva Green first made a splash as an actress by appearing nude in Bernardo Bertolucci’s sexually-charged 2003 film, The Dreamers. Now, just over a decade later, the former Bond girl (she played Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale) is again making waves as the oft-naked femme fatale in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, the long-awaited sequel to the original 2005 film. Even the poster for the film was banned in the US for showing the outline of Green’s ample bosom under a white shirt. None of this is of much concern to the fearless French actress, however, who has few qualms about nudity.
“I don’t understand the fuss,” Green says. “No one in Europe pays much attention to nudity, and even though I’m not particularly desperate to show my boobs, I was willing to do it for this film because it’s shot with such artistry and beauty.
“I had to almost forget that I was naked so that I would stop worrying or feeling self-conscious when I was standing naked in front of a crew wearing nothing but a thong. You don’t have any other choice.”
Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller (the author of the Sin City graphic novels), A Dame to Kill For sees Jessica Alba return to her role as exotic dancer Nancy Callahan who is determined to avenge herself against her tormentors. While Alba once again declined to appear naked, Green’s sensational physique is fully on display as femme fatale Ava Lord whose psychotic delight in sending men to their doom makes this of the most memorable female performances in years.
The visually-stunning, avant-garde film was shot in 3D using green screen technology where the actors worked on a bare set with the background filled in later during the post-production process. The cast includes original Sin City actors Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson and Benicio Del Toro while Josh Brolin and Joseph Gordon-Levitt join Green as key newcomers.
The 34-year-old Eva Green is also about to start filming the second season of the Showtime TV series, Penny Dreadful, a Victorian era horror/thriller co-starring Timothy Dalton and Josh Hartnett. She will also be seen in The Salvation, a western feature that reunites her with her Casino Royale co-star, Mads Mikkelsen. Some of Green’s recent films include this year’s 300: Rise of an Empire, and Dark Shadows (2012), which co-starred Johnny Depp.
Eva Green (her last name comes from her Swedish dentist father and is pronounced “Gren”) is currently single and lives in the Primrose Hill section of London. Her mother is retired French actress Marlene Jobert. Eva also has a non-identical twin sister, Joy, who is married to an Italian count from the Antinori winemaking family and lives in Normandy.
Q: Eva, your appearance as Ava Lord in this Sin City sequel is causing a minor sensation in the press. Do you think the amount of nudity involved is justified?
GREEN: I wouldn’t have done the film if I didn’t think that the nudity was handled in a beautiful and sensual way… I trusted Robert (Rodriguez). He came to my trailer and swore to me that I would look amazing with the right lighting and shadows. You feel quite vulnerable and exposed of course when you are naked on a set. You also feel silly standing naked with the green screen behind you and you’re all alone on a stage. It’s not that sexy at all when you’re doing scenes naked. But you trust Robert and Frank’s vision and it looks stunning. It’s not vulgar, it’s not indecent – it’s art.
Q: Is the nudity meant to shock audiences?
GREEN: I don’t think so. It’s being faithful to the atmosphere of the graphic novels that Frank Miller wrote and my character is the archetypal femme fatale. Ava uses her body as a means of manipulating men and getting them to do anything she wants.
Nudity is a weapon for her. I’m playing ‘a dame to kill for’ as the title says, and her physical and psychological aura is so strong that she literally drives men so crazy that they are willing to kill or be killed for her.
Q: You’ve done nudity before, including a memorable nude scene in your first film, The Dreamers. Does it bother you that nudity seems to cause so much of a fuss in some countries?
GREEN: I am a bit frustrated with all the talk about my nude or sex scenes. I’m not a porn actress! (Laughs) But sometimes if you’re going to play a character there’s going to be sex involved because that’s a very normal aspect of life and most people are naked when they f**k! Nudity is a lot easier to play than doing a sex scene which can feel cold and mechanical because you’re being told to put your hand here or there or the actor is told to put his hand on your boob and then kiss your breasts and so on. That can be much more awkward although if you’re shooting a sex scene all day it just becomes boring after a while.
Q: Is it fun to play such a dark character like you do in Sin City?
GREEN: You enjoy the sense of power she has. She’s the ultimate kind of man-eater, a total fantasy who changes her personality and behaviour to transform herself into exactly what men desire and what any given man wants her to be. Ava has the kind of power that a lot of women would like to have over men! (Laughs)
She’s a true chameleon and it was interesting to be able to play all the variations of her character – one moment she’s a damsel in distress and the next moment she’s this sensual goddess and then she’s a total bitch. She’s a psychopath with absolutely zero sense of right or wrong and no conscience whatsoever and definitely the most evil woman I’ve ever played or could imagine playing.
Q: What was it like working with such an interesting cast?
GREEN: I was very excited to be asked to do the film. I was cast at the last moment, about a week before shooting started, but I was so happy to be part of it. I was also very happy to get to work with Josh Brolin whom I’ve admired for many years. He brings so much intensity and emotion to his facial expressions and he has these sharp features that are perfect for the extreme character he plays.
Q: The film is shot entirely on a empty set with a green screen in the background. How difficult is it to act with no scenery or props of any kind?
GREEN: It’s very close to being on stage. When you do theatre, the furniture and background is usually very minimal you don’t pay any attention to the props. All your energy is focused on the other actor or actors you’re playing your scene with. That’s how it was making this film. There’s just the crew around you and you have to imagine the setting that’s eventually going to be filled in later. I had read the graphic novels before starting work on the film and so I had a good understanding of the surroundings.
You also get used to miming opening a door or looking in certain directions where something is supposed to be happening or knowing where the walls are supposed to be. It takes a bit of discipline but it also intensifies your work because your entire concentration is on the other actor.
Q: You tend to play extreme characters. Do you think the public has a strange perception of you?
GREEN: (Laughs) Most people have this image of me as a very dark kind of woman or a real bitch. It probably doesn’t help that I like to wear black a lot and that adds to the impression that I’m very cold or distant. I should probably try to play more balanced kinds of characters but often the juiciest roles for women are the darker characters. But it would be nice to do a good love story once in a while although no one thinks of me when it comes to those kinds of films.
Q: Most people don’t know that you’re actually quite fair-haired in real life?
GREEN: I’m fairly blonde. I’ve been dyeing my hair black since I was 15 and I’ve stuck with that look ever since. It’s my way of hiding myself I suppose. I think I look more interesting with dark hair. It’s part of my self-image and we all have a darker side. I like to put masks on sometimes because I haven’t always been that confident and you fall into the trap of continuing to hide your real self even though you’ve changed and grown a lot as an individual. I feel more open but it’s not always easy for me to show that.
Q: Are you a fairly fearless person?
GREEN: Oh, no! I can be confident about some things in my life but I often become very anxious when I’m thinking about a film and I’m not sure how to approach my character. I go up and down. Some days I will feel very strong and determined and other days I will feel lost in life and wondering what I’m doing. I would like to be more like my mum who is much tougher than I am.
Q: You’ve appeared in some big films of late like 300 and Dark Shadows. Do you think A Dame to Kill for will lead to a lot more work for you?
GREEN: I don’t know. I hope so! (Laughs) I always feel it’s a miracle when I get offered any role. I’m surprised that I’m allowed to do this job. Making movies is my way of living out different kinds of fantasies and that’s one of the main reasons I love acting so much.
I’m still trying to be less intellectual in my approach to my work and more instinctual, though. I would like to be more natural in the way I get into my characters and let myself rely on my instincts more. I’m naturally shy and introverted and it’s a side of myself that acting helps me overcome. But it’s a slow process.
Q: You’re often portrayed as a sex symbol and your Sin City film will probably add to that kind of image. How do you feel about that?
GREEN: I have always felt very self-conscious about my appearance. I have never seen myself as being beautiful the way I am sometimes described in the media. Whenever I spend time in Los Angeles I tend to feel ugly compared to all the beautiful women there. It’s not part of the way I see myself at all.
Q: Are you confident when it comes to love?
GREEN: It’s beautiful to feel intense passion but it’s also dangerous. It’s hard to have your heart broken and you want to protect yourself from being hurt again. But you have to be able to grow and learn with each relationship and hope you find love.