By Stuart Jeffries
The star of gothic fantasy Penny Dreadful talks about the risks – and pleasures – of acting on the dark side
Only very beautiful women and, perhaps, motorcycle couriers can get away with leather trousers. Detective Saga Norén in The Bridge? Just about. Ronan Keating? Not so much.
These thoughts occur as I’m introduced to Eva Green at an apparently select members’ club in the gothic revival St Pancras Renaissance hotel in London. She’s wearing black boots, black leather trousers, tailored black singlet, has long, dyed-black hair and lots of black eye makeup.
“I am a vampire,” she laughs, as we retire to a sofa in a darkened corner, “and I never expose myself to the sun. I have very fine skin, you see.” She daily applies suncream (factor 30 or 50) under her makeup.
Green is drawn to the dark side in other ways. The 35-year-old French actor is in London to promote her role as gaunt, statuesque, demonically possessed, cheeks-sucked-in-so-much-it-must-hurt-after-a-hard-day’s-shooting clairvoyant Vanessa Ives in Sky series Penny Dreadful. The drama is a gothic mashup of Dracula, Dorian Gray, Frankenstein, steampunk aesthetics, vampires, werewolves, diabolical possession and obsolete alienist psychiatry. When I reviewed the first episode in 2014, I found it as impossible to take seriously as Ronan Keating in leather strides, notwithstanding all the impressive acting talent on show, including Rory Kinnear, Simon Russell-Beale, Helen McCrory, Billie Piper and Green herself. But the Victorian-set drama, whose third series starts this week, has since garnered decent ratings and won awards, so what do I know?
One day, Green whispers to me confidingly in husky, French-tinged, but nearly over-articulated English, she was in her trailer in Ireland. She was getting ready to film a scene in which Ives becomes demonically possessed and speaks in voices. In preparation, she was listening to a recording of the voice of a young German woman called Annaliese Michel. You can hear Michel’s ostensibly demonically possessed voice on YouTube, before she underwent Catholic exorcism rites in 1974. It is disturbing listening, and made all the more so thanks to hindsight: Michel died the following year, after which her parents and two priests were convicted of negligent homicide. “As I was listening to it,” says Green, “my makeup artist came in, heard these noises and said: ‘Oh my God, I’m getting out.’ And she ran off. I can understand why. It feels as if it’s contagious.”
by Roslyn Sulcas
As Vanessa Ives in the Showtime series “Penny Dreadful,” the French actress Eva Green has been possessed by demons, spoken in tongues, fallen in love with a werewolf and defied the Devil. What on earth can happen to her character next? Something scarier: therapy.
Yes, in Season 3, now underway, the impenetrable Miss Ives visits a “mentalist,” who bears a strange resemblance to a character from Season 2. “I always think, no, it can’t get darker,” said Ms. Green, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for the role. “But, well, you don’t know with this character whether it’s all in her head.”
The show, set in Victorian England, incorporates characters from classic British novels of the era — Dr. Frankenstein and his monsters, Dorian Gray and Dracula — to creepy, head-spinning ends. “I love playing a character from those repressed times who is so nonconformist, it’s very jubilating,” Ms. Green said. “Being possessed, sometimes, it’s very freeing.”
Ms. Green, 35, grew up in Paris and worked in theater before making her screen debut in 2003 in Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Dreamers,” later appearing as the double agent Vesper Lynd in the 2006 James Bond movie, “Casino Royale.” Later this year, she will appear in Tim Burton’s “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.”
In an interview at a hotel in London, Ms. Green, dressed all in black, was warm and, unlike Vanessa, smiled a lot. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
When you were cast as Vanessa, did you know you’d have epic sequences of demonic possession — projectile vomiting and mowing down men and furniture?
I love all that! I prefer doing it to light stuff. There is something very physical about it, which is fun. But it’s true that it’s really intense, like a drug, or a sport. Sometimes, after shooting, I go home and lie on the sofa with a glass of red wine and can’t move.
Is it hard to speak in tongues in that scarily deep voice?
The first season, I was very serious about it. I learned some Latin, Arabic, German and Lingala, a Congolese dialect. But then some linguists created the Verbis Diablo for Season 2. I was very good for an episode. Then I just made it all up and took my voice down an octave or two.
French is your first language, but you’ve mostly worked in English.
I have only done one movie in French, and it was terrible. I’d love to do another, but I’m scared. Playing in another language means you get out of yourself somehow. I worked really crazily to sound British when I did the Bond movie, but I’m a nerd like that.
When did you decide you wanted to act?
I was very shy — I still am actually — and my school forced me to do a theater class when I was 12 because they thought it would be good for me. My mother was an actress, but she stopped when she had children, and she would always tell me it was a cruel business. I went to drama school but thought I wanted to become a director. Then I started to act and really felt alive. And here I am.
What are some of your career goals?
I would love to do something with Jacques Audiard [“Rust and Bone”]. I once wrote him a letter, but perhaps he doesn’t think I’m right. People often see me as sophisticated, or put me in the supernatural box.
What was it like to work with Tim Burton on “Miss Peregrine”?
He was really lovely. The film is about lots of strange children with unique characteristics, and I’m the guardian who protects them from the outside world. There is some darkness, but it’s very fanciful, crazy, with funny moments. It’s very poetic, very Tim.
What’s in store for Vanessa in Season 3?
Vanessa has lost her faith, but deep down there is a longing. She meets Dr. Sweet [a zoologist] in the first episode, and she will fall in love, but it’s weird. It’s a “Penny Dreadful” kind of relationship, what can I say?
by Ed Gross
There’s always been something betwitching about Eva Green, and that quality is on full display in Penny Dreadful, the John Logan created series that has just begun its third season.
The show, set in Victorian England, brings together many of the characters from classic Gothic literature – among them Dr. Frankenstein, Dorian Gray and, this season, Dr. Henry Jekyll – in an ever-growing canvas of storytelling. Green portrays Vanessa Ives, officially described as “poised, mysterious and utterly composed.” Vanessa is “a seductive and formidable beauty full of secrets and danger. She is keenly observant – clairvoyant even – as well as an expert medium. Her supernatural gifts are powerful and useful to those around her, but they are also a heavy burden. Her inner demons just may be more real than emotional, and they threaten to dextroy her relationships, her sanity and her very life.”
The actress’ credits have included such films as Ridley Scott’s Kingdom Of Heaven, the James Bond film Casino Royale, The Golden Compass, Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, 300: Rise of An Empire and the forthcoming Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. She had previously been drawn to television and the role of Morgan in the short-lived Camelot.
Empire conducted this exclusive interview with Green shortly before the premiere of the new season of Penny Dreadful.
Given a career made up so largely of film, what was it about Penny Dreadful that made you willing to commit to it?
The role is so meaty. It’s quite rare to find something so rich. John Logan really insisted and insisted and at first I was, like, “Oh my God, I can’t commit to TV. I don’t know if I can.” But then he really kind of talked me through the several seasons and the arc of the character is absolutely beautiful, so I couldn’t say no. So many things to explore as an actor; it’s a gift.
You mentioned the arc. How would you describe Vanessa’s evolution over the course of what we’ve seen so far?
Sometimes she goes back and forth. At the end of season two, she loses her faith, and faith was absolutely everything to her, so she’s most of the time in the darkness, but is somebody that aims towards the light. There’s a lot of turmoil… she’s someone who becomes almost like a Joan of Arc, but there is something very pure about her.
– Movies > Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children > Promotional Stills
– Magazine & Newspaper Scans > 2016 > Entertainment Weekly (USA) – March 11, 2016
Wim Goossens of Bulletproof Cupid, a film production company, provided the production services when the Tim Burton film Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children came to shoot for three weeks in Flanders last summer.
– Magazine & Newspaper Scans > 2016 > Screen Flanders (Belgium) – 2016
The book’s author Ransom Riggs tweeted an update on the film’s release date which was moved from December 25, 2016 to September 30, 2016!
BIG NEWS: the release date of the Miss P movie has been moved to September 30. and thank god… don’t think I could’ve made it to december!!
— Ransom Riggs (@ransomriggs) February 28, 2016
Eva Green feels more like herself when she’s ditched her natural hair colour.
The 34-year-old actress is a natural blonde, but usually sports much darker tresses. That’s been the way for many years, with Eva explaining she feels brunette suits her personality much better, so has stuck with in since first reaching for the dye at 15.
“I wanted to change something. You know, like when you go through your teenage years. I hated school. I was a good student, but I just wanted to breathe in something new,” she told WWD. “I was in awe of a friend of my mum, who had dark hair. She was quite weird, beautiful. I was like, ‘Oh wow, I’ll go to the hairdresser and try that.’ So I went there, I dyed my hair blue-black and came back home. It took me a while to get used to it, and then I actually really liked it. I felt more like myself. It’s weird.”
Eva was talking as part of her role as L’Oréal Professionnel international spokesperson. The brand is releasing a new range called Pro Fiber, which aims to help repair damaged hair.
It’s something the star can get on board with because she’s changed her look a lot for roles, including sporting red tresses and experimenting with fringes.
“Hair defines your character, your state of mind. At the moment I’m in a [Tim] Burton film, and it took weeks and weeks to find the right hairdo. It’s kind of a weird character. Her name is Miss Peregrine, so there is a bit of a birdlike hairdo in her. It helps you to create the character when you find the hairdo. It’s also like a costume,” she said.
The actress was also quizzed on her beauty secrets and was happy to let a couple slip. Unfortunately, there is no quick route to her slim physique and porcelain skin – it’s all about being careful.
“Sun cream, protection, food — what we eat is the most important: lots of green vegetables, raw vegetables, organic. Everything has to be organic,” she said.
By Tara MacInnis
Woman of mystery Eva Green, who stars in a major hair campaign for L’Oréal, shares her secrets
With her inky cascading over pale shoulders, Eva Green—famous for her role as James Bond’s one true love Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale—is becoming the go-to leading lady for all things brooding. Early next year, she’ll play the title character in macabre master Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children; next May she returns as the demon-tormented Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful’s third season. And now, L’Oréal Professionnel has tapped the French actress as its spokesperson for a new intensive hair treatment range. “It’s a revolution,” she says, wearing a long black dress, obsidian nail polish and smudgy kohl eyeshadow during the launch at the Le Meurice hotel in Paris. “It takes your hair from f-cked up to beautiful, strong, healthy.” The taxidermy-collecting star fits into Burton’s quirky world quite honestly. Unafraid of ghosts and ghouls, here’s what really causes her fright: “Not being loved…being rejected,” she says, revealing a tender truth beneath the dark facade.
Green’s Gothic Beauty Tips
Go Deep: “As a teenager, I was dark blonde. I was going through a shy phase, and I wanted to change something. My mum’s friend had black hair, and I decided to try it. I feel now that it’s more me.”
Do Blood Red: “I love M.A.C Lady Danger lipstick for all occasions. The matte finish lasts for hours.”
Shun the Sun: “I never go out without an SPF of at least 30. It’s the key to dodging aging.”
Resurrect damaged hair with the latest regenerating treatment
After 15 years of research, L’Oréal Professionnel has finally solved the beauty world’s mane dilemma: how to make a pricey reparative salon treatment last beyond your next wash. Pro Fiber’s molecular mix, dubbed APTYL 100, rebuilds frayed strands and then seals itself inside hair with a protective film. After your initial spa-style pampering using one of three hair-care systems (Revive, Restore or Reconstruct), a for-pros-only dose of the juiced-up activator locks in smoothness for up to four washes. An at-home five-piece range includes a booster that recharges results for another four-wash cycle, with lustre that lasts six weeks—until your next appointment.
Eva Green’s skin didn’t fare well in the harsh Irish winter.
The French actress is playing Miss Peregrine in Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which hits cinema screens next year.
Tim is known for his kooky plots and visuals, and Eva’s hair will not disappoint.
“The role I’m playing now is quite cool. My hair is kind of bonkers. It’s a 40s style with a twist. I also loved my look in another movie I starred in, called Cracks. It’s set in the 30s – all high-waisted pants and bobbed hair,” she told the British version of Marie Claire.
Eva is used to having her hair styled and her make-up applied on set, and she looks equally as glamorous when she hits the red carpet.
Not all of her projects have been as kind on the 35-year-old’s looks though. She’s known for her alabaster skin, which looks extra striking next to her raven locks, but while filming hit TV show Penny Dreadful her skin took a bit of a beating.
“Filming in Ireland last winter really took its toll on my skin,” she revealed. “I rely on a good, fragrance-free make-up remover from Cetaphil or Avène and apply a cold cream to replenish my skin. I always wear SPF, but find factor 50 is too pale and thick, so I use SkinCeuticals Brightening UV Defense SPF 30. I love Sisley’s treatments, too.
“Make-up can be dangerous when you have pale skin – sometimes I can look like Morticia Addams!”