By Neala Johnson
“It’s nice,” says Eva Green, “not to play the girlfriend.”
“I don’t want to be the woman in the script where it goes, ‘There’s a beautiful, mysterious woman …’ Just, OK, forget it. I think I would feel unhappy … Some people play it very well but I want to be as equal as a man, you know what I mean?”
Oh, we know what she means.
As far as mysterious girlfriends go, Green played a stunner — to Daniel Craig’s James Bond in his first, bracing outing, Casino Royale.
So impactful was Green’s Vesper Lynd, Bond basically spent the next three films getting over her.
But now the London-based Frenchwoman is over it too. Searching for the word to perfectly capture what she wants to do from here on in, Green finally settles upon “other”.
“It’s exciting to be other.”
If it’s other she wants, Green could wish for no better co-conspirator than Tim Burton.
She teams with the famously eccentric director for a second time on Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, a fantastical adaptation of Ransom Riggs’ best-selling young-adult novel.
Green plays Miss Peregrine, a woman who, while protecting a gaggle of children with unusual abilities from outside threats, also has a peculiarity of her own: as the name suggests, she can transform into a bird.
“I remember Tim called me a year before the shoot. He was like, ‘I’ve got this book, I wonder if you would be interested?’ I was like, ‘Anything, I’d play anything for you’. But he was like, ‘No, no, I want you to read it and see if you like her’.”
A woman-bird who’s handy with a crossbow, has absolutely no love interest and is slightly bonkers? It’s safe to say Green liked her.
“Tim called her Scary Poppins, which I thought was quite funny,” the 36-year-old laughs. “But she’s not a bad, mad woman — it’s all to save her children. She has the ability to transform into a peregrine falcon and because peregrine falcons are the fastest animal on earth, she delivers lines very quickly.
“I watched some documentaries on birds. It was kind of a challenge — I was trying to have little, sharp movements with my head and not much blinking at all, using my hands like claws, my long nails. You always worry that you’re going a bit over the top, but I had a lot of fun … playing her like Mary Poppins on speed.”
By Danny Leigh
The cast of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children have a tale or two
Eva Green: “I was terrified of being the centre of attention”
I’ve always felt a little peculiar. Growing up in Paris I was always quiet. Very shy. I was scared of going to birthday parties, because I couldn’t play games and I didn’t like being in a group. I have a twin sister, and she had that bravery, she could join in with the group. But for me, it was painful.
On my sixth birthday, another girl and I had a shared party, and I was so nervous I vomited. I know how crazy it is – from that terror of being the centre of attention, here I am as an actress. My parents made some home movies when I was three or four and I was already in my own bubble, looking away from the camera, thinking my own thoughts. Now I’ve tamed my demons but if I have to appear as myself in public, it’s hard. Deep down the child is still there.
As a girl, I used to go to the cinema on my own. I hate it when people say the cinema is an escape, as if making small talk about the weather is more real. I loved the films of Ingmar Bergman and also A Room with a View. I saw it first when I was about eight, and I loved it immediately.
At 16, I studied for a year at the American School of Paris, and that was a revelation. The French school system is very judgemental. There, everything was about the pressure to get a certain grade in Maths. Who cares? I don’t remember a thing I did in Maths. But at the American School, the individual was celebrated. I’d never been into fashion, but I would dress up every day, wilder and wilder. I did art, drama, photography, even sports. It was an epiphany for me.
If enough people call you weird, you start to see yourself as weird. But in adult life, it can be a strength, too. And sometimes I do still feel like I belong to a different planet, where all the peculiars should go.
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.
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.”
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.
By Jennifer Vineyard
In the world of Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the titular unusual kids are blessed (or cursed) with abilities like invisibility, floatation, or having a mouth at the back of their heads. But in the real world, those of us who don’t quite fit in aren’t lucky enough to live in a special home run by Eva Green. Instead, all we have is the comfort and consolation of knowing that we are not alone, that everyone out there is also hiding their own secret habit or quirk. At Monday’s Miss Peregrine’s premiere, Vulture caught up with the film’s cast in the hopes of getting them to share what makes them weird, and they dutifully obliged.
I was always quite weird, you know? I was very shy as a child. I couldn’t go to birthday parties, because I wasn’t very good with groups. I had to go see to a therapist for it. And sometimes I still feel too shy to join a group, and it makes me sad. And that’s why we do movies like this, to tell kids it’s okay: Whatever makes you weird makes you unique and special. I’m actually unloading my feelings with this movie!
By Tom Butler
Have you ever noticed how characters in Tim Burton films never seem to blink? Or point?
It’s all part of the filmmaker’s peculiar masterplan according to Eva Green, the star of the gothic maestro’s new film ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’, who told Yahoo Movies, “Tim doesn’t like blinking in general.”
“I don’t,” confirms Burton, “I don’t know why. Even when you’re mentioning it now, it freaks me out.”
“And, I don’t know if she mentioned, but Eva’s the only person that I ever let point on screen. I hate pointing, especially pointing extras. I’ve had that. I almost wanna cut their arms off, especially with extras.”
‘Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children’ – in UK cinemas from Thursday, 29 September – is based on Ransom Riggs’ best-selling YA novel of the same name. Released in 2011, the book features striking vintage black and white photographs of peculiar children that help illustrate the story about Jake, an American boy who travels to a remote Welsh island while trying to solve the mystery of his grandfather’s death, where he stumbles upon the mysterious children’s home.
The book spent a whopping 70 weeks on The New York Times Best Sellers list, before Tim Burton jumped aboard Fox’s adaptation, and now fans of the book will finally get to see the peculiar story on screen.
Here we recount the book’s journey from page to screen with help from Tim Burton and Miss P. herself, Eva Green.
A Peculiar Book
Tim Burton: It’d been a bestseller before I’d even ever heard about it.
So, I came into it quite late, but when I looked at the book, I think it’s probably the first time I ever looked at a book and liked it before reading it. Just because I liked the way that Ransom [Riggs] had constructed this story around these old photographs.
I had an immediate connection to that because I love old photographs, and I look at them, and I have some that I’ve collected – not as many as Ransom does, but I have a collection.
Eva Green: Tim said he was going to send me this book and if I was interested, he’d love for me to do it. Even without having read the book, I was in. But, he’s a gentleman so I read the book and I loved those haunting pictures first of all.
You open it and it’s kind of like ‘wow!’ It’s so odd and austere and beautiful and very Tim Burton actually. I found Ransom Riggs’ world and Tim’s are quite similar, so I read it and I immediately saw Tim’s magic in it, and it was an easy decision to make.
Tim Burton: You feel like when you see these photographs, you get such a mixture of feelings of haunting, spooky, funny, or emotional, or sad, or a weird sense of poetry about it, and I think it had all that.
Then when I read the book, I thought ‘wow’, it’s got all the types of themes that I like. The themes of ‘what’s real or fantasy?’ The feelings of feeling peculiar, the labels of that and also, with Jake’s character [played by Asa Butterfield], this idea of feeling like you’re awkward and you don’t fit it.
Those feelings that I remember very strongly as a teenager, like ‘I don’t feel a part of my world, and I feel like I’m crazy’.
By Nick Romano
“This is just like speed dating,” Eva Green laughs as she slides into my booth.
Along with the other main cast of “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” she’s been cycling through journalists all day with new face popping by her table every few minutes for a quick chat.
When she gets to me, we have 10 minutes to discuss the Tim Burton film in the Gallow Green restaurant of the McKittrick Hotel in New York City, which is a dim-lit, fantastical eatery with an antique subway decorated with potted plants serving as our lunch spot. When our time is up, she’ll move on and repeat the process with another member of the press. So, yeah, it is like speed dating.
What do we use for ice breakers? The usual: the Lynchian menagerie that is this restaurant, the bird cage decorating her hotel room, and changing things up from her femme fatales roles by playing someone who would die for her children.
Moviefone: So, how is your day so far? Have you had a chance to explore this area?
Eva Green: No, no. I just stayed in my room. It was red and there was a bird cage in the back. It’s cool. It’s surreal. It’s like a [David] Lynch movie, like in “Twin Peaks.” I mean, my room was like that. It was all in red.
Yeah, I just got off the elevator and they were like, “Okay, you’re going into this room.” And I was like, “Is this a hotel?”
It is a hotel?
What? Like, for when you have an affair or something? It’s weird.
Alright, well, let’s jump right into this …
[Laughs] What’s your favorite color?
Right? I’m really curious how the character of Miss Peregrine was first pitched to you. Had you heard of the books at all, or were you going off of descriptions of her?
No. I remember Tim just said to me, it’s kind of a weird Mary Poppins, and I was like, “Oh, I always wanted to play kind of Mary Poppins.” And, yeah, he sent me the book — and, actually, I don’t know if you’ve read the book or saw pictures of the original Miss Peregrine, but she’s kind of austere. It’s something, you know, like long skirt and glasses, and Tim also set it in the ’40s and he wanted her to be a bit more rock ‘n’ roll, and a bit more wacko.
By Donna Freydkin
French actress Eva Green exudes a mysterious, cool edge. And it’s put to perfect use in “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” with Green playing the pipe-smoking headmistress of a haven for odd kids — those who defy gravity, or house a beehive within themselves, for example.
Green, who most recently embodied seductive, sultry and powerful Vanessa Ives in Showtime’s horror drama “Penny Dreadful,” approached the role in the Tim Burton film with one guiding principle: “That of a dark Mary Poppins. I spoke quite fast. There’s something very sharp and precise about her. No messing around. The bird movements. It could go wrong quickly – that was my worry,” says Green.
She fully embraced her character, who has the same habit as many a detective. “I had two pipes. I kept one of them. I learned how to smoke them. There’s an art to it. It’s a delicate art. It helps me as well to bring a virility to her. It’s such a cool prop,” she says.
Miss Peregrine can transform into a falcon. And she has her own power: the ability to stop time and live in an endless loop. Would Green ever want to do that in real life?
“I don’t think so. The idea of being stuck and being forced to relive things, it’s quite scary. But of course, if it’s a nice holiday – today, I’d like to go to this wonderful holiday in Africa I’d been to,” she says.
It was a vacation that changed her life. “I went to Africa on my own. It’s a bit strange. But I loved it. It was unbelievable. I was scared at the beginning. What am I doing? After a while, there’s something you learn about yourself but only if you’re on your own. There’s something so free about that. It’s empowering,” says Green.
Green broke out in “The Dreamers,” the 2003 deeply erotic film by Bernardo Bertolucci. She went on to play Vesper Lynd in 2006’s “Casino Royale” and Ava Lord in Frank Miller’s and Robert Rodriguez’s “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.”
But at no time in her career has she played the bland girlfriend, or the chipper spouse, or the pretty, wide-eyed arm candy. She has no plans to start now.
“I’ve never really played the love interest. I’ve never, ever accepted a role like that. But here it was nice to have a different goal, to have those children to look after. I love playing the protector,” she says. “I like characters who are complex. That’s why people sometimes say it’s dark. I don’t know what that means. It’s complex. Life is not rosy.”
Like actresses of yore, Green cultivates an air of mystery about herself. She is not on social media. She doesn’t do much press. And she doesn’t air her romantic dirty laundry in public.
“I feel like I’m old school,” she says of Twitter and Instagram. “It’s kind of scary. I could get addicted as well and I don’t want to get there. I understand that sometimes those media are good for a cause, or political things, for your work, that I understand. But to say you picked your nose at 4:30, that’s alien to me. You don’t want to give too much away. Look at me!”