M.   /   December 01, 2007   /   5 Comments

Friday, November 30, 2007

Eva Green is only 27, but she has already been a Bond girl, worked with directors Bernardo Bertolucci, Ridley Scott and Wong Kar-wai, and been invited by France’s new president to accompany him on a visit with George W. Bush (she declined, she says, because of work commitments).

Nonetheless, it is her small role in the mega-budget fantasy film “The Golden Compass,” which opens Friday, that she believes has started a key period of her career, one that she hopes will help her grow as an actress. Once famously described by Bertolucci, who directed her debut film, “The Dreamers,” as “so beautiful it’s indecent,” Green wants more mature parts, and how much more mature can you get than a good witch who’s hundreds of years old?

“I was very lucky to get the part in the Bond film,” Green said of last year’s “Casino Royale,” which reinvigorated the Bond franchise and made a star of Daniel Craig, who is also in “The Golden Compass.”

Calling on Monday from London, where she keeps an apartment, Green continued, “It gave me more fame, more publicity. That’s good. But I have gotten a lot of femme fatale offers, or the bitch, or the sex symbol, and I would like people to see beyond that.”

Green plays Serafina in “The Golden Compass,” the first of a planned trilogy adapted from the beloved “His Dark Materials” books by Philip Pullman about a young girl who navigates a world in which daemons (good and bad) live side by side with humans (good and bad), and all are after the secret of a mysterious entity called Dust, which can pull the universe together or destroy it. The film, directed by Chris Weitz (“About a Boy”), stars newcomer Dakota Blue Richards as Lyra, Nicole Kidman as the villainous Marisa Coulter and Craig as Lord Asriel. It also features Sam Elliott, Christopher Lee and the voices of Ian McKellen, Ian McShane and Kathy Bates.

“This role is actually bigger in the film than in the book, because she’s great and we wanted (Green) in the film as much as possible, and she becomes a very important player in the films to come,” Weitz said by telephone from London in a separate interview. “This is the rare case where I could only think of one person to play this part. There’s a sort of maturity to her that belies her appearance, and this character is meant to be hundreds of years old, and yet has a young appearance. … She’s a very intelligent actor and, in terms of her generation, there’s nobody like her.”

Green is the daughter of Swedish-born dentist Walter Green and Algerian-born actress-turned-children’s author Marlene Jobert. Interestingly, both parents made key French films in 1966, her father starring in Robert Bresson’s “Au hasard Balthazar” (it was his only film) and her mother debuting in Jean-Luc Godard’s “Masculin-feminin.”

It would be years before young Eva, growing up in Paris, would appreciate her parents’ contributions to cinema history. She liked fantasy films, most notably “Willow,” which came out when she was 8.

“I was in love with Val Kilmer,” she said, laughing. “With dark hair, he was quite bold and funny and sarcastic.”

Little did she know that she would be in a fantasy film herself, one that is rumored to have cost more than the three “Lord of the Rings” films combined.

Before that, however, Green studied acting and music (she plays the piano), and was onstage in a play in Paris when she caught Bertolucci’s eye. “The Dreamers” became an art-house hit – a film that celebrated her parents’ time and, as she puts it, “the glory of French cinema.” It’s a film for film lovers, and her full-frontal nude scenes gained her attention.

After appearing in the French film “Arsene Lupin,” she was cut out of most of Scott’s “Kingdom of Heaven,” her hard work mostly restored in the much-better director’s cut on DVD. Then came Bond, a Christian Dior commercial directed by Wong for Midnight Poison perfume (check out the one-minute version on YouTube), “The Golden Compass” and, for release in 2008, a modestly budgeted futuristic thriller, “Franklyn,” directed by relative newcomer Gerald McMorrow.

“It’s a crazy movie about three people who are mad and lost and quite depressed. It’s quite funny at the same time – like a Michel Gondry movie,” Green said of “Franklyn.” “I play two characters as a schizophrenic. One is a quite tormented artist and crazy. The other one is full of life, very witty, big sense of humor. … It was really pleasant to be on a movie where you don’t have much money, so you can really focus on the actors.”

“The Golden Compass,” by contrast, was a grueling shoot, as even Weitz admits.

“When we were shooting the final battle scene, it was as cold inside the studio as it was outside – and we were shooting it in winter,” he said. “It was still rather difficult conditions for her to work in, especially the fact that she had to be wired up to fly around, and I don’t think she’s particularly fond of heights. She spent weeks and weeks training to fly and to fire a bow and fight, and she was probably shooting over the course of three or four weeks.” (See related story on the special effects on Page 33.)

When told of Weitz’s comments, Green let out a laugh.

“I’m very scared of heights,” she said. “It was a physical part. I’m not very fit – and now I’m an action woman. … I was very high above the ground and moving fast and had to land very, very sharply. I felt at times I was in a plane crash or something. But if you really focus, when you’re high above ground, at one point on the ground, it really worked. I was proud of myself. But I preferred fighting on the ground and killing people and firing arrows. It felt more human!”

One trip she didn’t make through the air was the one offered by Nicolas Sarkozy, who was elected president of France in May. Green said at first she thought it was a joke, but it turned out to be a serious offer.

“He asked me to travel with him on a private jet to see Mr. Bush,” she said, adding that she generally supports Sarkozy’s policies. “And he had just got divorced with his wife. It made me laugh. But I was shooting ‘Franklyn,’ so I couldn’t go, unfortunately.”

Meeting presidents might be cool, but she’d rather meet with directors like Fernando Meirelles, Sean Penn or David Fincher, to name a few. With the “Golden Compass” sequels still up in the air and “Franklyn” wrapped, Green suddenly finds herself out of work. She is hoping those two films will help elite filmmakers look at her with a fresh eye.

And until then?

“I’m going to go to Australia and lie down on the beach with a nice vodka and my boyfriend,” Green said.

Boyfriend? Who might that be?

“Dot, dot, dot,” she said, then let out a laugh.

THE GOLDEN COMPASS (PG-13) opens Friday at Bay Area theaters.

E-mail G. Allen Johnson at ajohnson@sfchronicle.com.

This article appeared on page N – 28 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

  1. George Says:

    Thanks Mariana, a couple of new things emerge from this interview. Sarkozy is a clever man. He wanted to go to USA fully armed, with the most strong and modern weapon in France’s Arsenal (or she can’t overcome Cecilia yet…). In Australia with her boyfriend? The place give us some clues isn’t it?

    PS: Moniqe, she will come pretty close to you…

  2. George Says:

    Thanks also to Tom for the discovery

  3. spot Says:

    i want her to work with Meirelles and Fincher so much….

  4. Monique Says:

    LOL at the “dot, dot, dot” thing…so private..

  5. Tango_down Says:

    For my part I think Sarkozy’s invitation is very clever but rather daring, a president who encircles himself with an actress French star going up of the worldwide cinema for an official diplomatic trip would have been unusual, especially with nice and such a radiant actress as Eva, but it is clear that her presence would have given a lot of prestige in Sarkozy which would not have got in each other’s way to attract the look of the cameras of the whole world and make speak about him. However this would have made too unusual, even if we know that Sarkozy has taste to make any step not as the others, but this would have been missing seriousness for a trip of diplomatic type. To invite her to a cultural event would have been more appropriate.
    Regarding Eva I think in fact she would not have been very cheerful with this trip, even if what she tells on fact to meet the president is undoubtedly true, but I shall have to bet that it is the type of trip which would have absolutely bored her.
    We can think that to accompany Sarkozy would have been able to serve her also for making know and to show in the whole world how much she is estimated from a cultural point of view in her country, by the president shone even, but the picture of her which would have come out again from this trip the one is not undoubtedly that she would like to show, because all that undoubtedly does not looks like her.
    In my view Eva undoubtedly told herself phew to have a good pretext to decline invitation.
    Sarkozy dreamed by thinking that he could have Eva Green so easily in his sides, but we cannot reproach him for it, if we were president as him, we would also use our power to invite her to a dinner 😉

    A french point of view 😉