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 Donald Clarke
The Penny Dreadful star takes a break from psychic meltdowns as the eponymous lead in Tim Burton’s new film Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
“It’s so great to hear the accent,” Eva Green says to me. “Where in Ireland are you from?”
Dunno. Blftnbrgh. Sgrlingham. What’s my name again?
Green has that sort of presence. Over the last decade or so, after debuting in Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers, the French actor has become our era’s most potent purveyor of gothic glamour. Nobody else does what she does. Nobody else can lower her brow and stare as if focussing the wrath of a thousand unsettled souls (or something). You get quite a bit of that in her performance as the title character in Tim Burton’s imminent Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
“I am so sick of this femme fatale thing,” she says in a perky voice. “I don’t know what it means. I suppose I played one in Sin City – 100 percent evil. I see that. But Penny Dreadful is dark and tormented. That’s different. There are many layers to that. I find that very meaty. So maybe I should dye my hair blonde and do an American comedy.”
I had read that she was actually a natural blonde.
“Yes! That’s right. I am a dark blonde. I think I need to be careful. I don’t want to be seen as being too sophisticated.”
I must apologise. You probably didn’t want to read that Eva Green – recently so distraught and demented on the TV series Penny Dreadful – turns out to be in no way intimidating. This is, however, very much the case. She looks magnificent. Wearing something black and diaphanous, the trademark eye make-up shockingly in place, she is unlikely to be ignored in a crowd. But she is still very much up for a nice chat.
“Ireland is so real and funny,” she almost gushes. “I shot the movie Cracks there. I always had a happy time. Then three years of Penny Dreadful. And Camelot. I feel like I have something Irish thing going on within me.”
by Drew McWeeny
The first real rabid Penny Dreadful fan I talked to was Greg Ellwood here at HitFix. He was a steadfast believer the entire time it was on the air, and he encouraged me to watch it. I was busy cutting the cord, though, moving away from cable subscriptions. I had no cable in the house, none in my office, and chose not to watch anything on TV. I used Hulu, Netflix, HBO Now, Amazon Prime. And if a show didn’t land in one of the services I used, then it just went on a list of things to watch someday. Maybe.
Today is that day for Penny Dreadful for me. After Greg, the person who really picked up that ongoing advocacy for the show was Brian Duffield, who shares my deep abiding love of Eva Green’s work, and he has always been insistent that I was missing some of her very best work by not finding a way to watch the show. I couldn’t justify all of the expense for one title, though. I just waited, and when I moved into my new apartment this week, I finally reversed course, buying a cable/Internet bundle with a very healthy On Demand library. I checked to see if I had a Showtime folder, and then checked to see if they had all of the Penny Dreadful episodes, and just as I got excited about that, Netflix also added the series, although only the first two seasons.
It was suddenly abundantly available and so I put on the first one this morning while working, and that rolled right into the second one, and all of a sudden, there was Eva Green, and there was this seance, and she grabbed this script by the neck and cracked it open and drank the marrow and never once blinked, damn near staring the audience down, daring them to look away.
That’s Eva Green, though. From the moment she appeared in The Dreamers thirteen years ago, she made it clear that she was no one’s fantasy, no one’s object, no one’s simple fantasy. She is willing to follow a good piece of material anywhere, and watching her tear into good writing is one of the great pleasures of film these days. When I spoke to her about her work in 300: Rise Of An Empire, I was practically levitating because it’s such a knowing, accomplished piece of work. She read that script, she got exactly how to make that character spring to vivid life, and she dug in unabashedly. I don’t think Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is very good, but she positively skins it. She leans into the stereotypes that Frank Miller’s using and she twists them all into her own particular versions of them. When she played “the Bond girl” in Casino Royale, she ended up making Vesper into something just as morally and emotionally complicated as the original Ian Fleming conception of the character, if not more so.
Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows has 99 problems, but Eva Green ain’t one. She showed up to that film to play, and she owns Johnny Depp in every scene in the film. Seems apt. In a world where men get to be character actors for decades, building rich galleries of portrayals of a wide range of types and voices and backstories, women are often relegated to teasing out variations on a fairly limited range of roles. Eva Green has never allowed herself to be held back by that, though, and when a filmmaker understands just what a rich collaborator Green can be, it seems like there’s no limit to the rewards that the finished film will reap. She should have the kind of career Depp has, and it seems like she is forcing the industry to bend to that idea instead of her having to give up and just take the girlfriend or wife roles like everyone else.
Today is her birthday, and I don’t particularly care what number it is. What I care about is watching the rest of this series in the weeks ahead, and savoring the way a TV show, especially today as the caliber of writing seems to have risen across the board, allows a great actor to do something they can never do in film, living in a character’s skin over time, building in a million details that make the character even more vivid, even more real. And if I could give her one birthday present, it would be the promise that no one will ever do to her work what Ridley Scott did when he cut the theatrical version of Kingdom Of Heaven in 2005. Her character had a son in the film who played an essential role, but when Scott was pushed to create a theatrical version of the film that was an acceptable length, he chose to cut her son from the movie completely, and it destroyed her character in a way that was remarkable. It was only once I saw the longer cut that I realized just how impressive her work was, and how much William Monahan had given her to do. Here’s hoping that as she continues to move from role to role, filmmakers rise to the challenge and they write strong, smart, eccentric roles for her to play. I’m looking forward to seeing her play Miss Peregrine in Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, and you can see the latest trailer for it below. But I want more for her. I want her to conquer. I want her to find a filmmaker who is excited by what she brings to a collaboration. I want Hollywood to deserve her.
In the meantime, I’ve got lots more Penny Dreadful to get to. Celebrate her birthday right and join me if you’re also been missing out.
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 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.