We continue our series of roundtables with the cast of The Golden Compass with Eva Green, who plays Serafina Pekkala. Click above to listen to the interview, download directly here, or follow the read more link to read the abridged transcript.
Find out Eva’s tongue-in-cheek suggestion for her own daemon, life after being a Bond girl, French fantasy and Eva’s thoughts on religion in His Dark Materials. We asked the actress about Serafina’s unusual love-story and what it was like working with Dakota Blue Richards, so read on.
We’ll have our interview with Dakota up next, followed by director Chris Weitz and finishing with the quintessential cowboy, Sam Elliot – so look out for those.
Eva Green roundtable
Journalist: So you’re with Daniel Craig again. How’s that working out?
Eva Green: Well, I mean we – you know, as I said in the press conference – we don’t really have a scene at all. Together. So..
Journalist: So you don’t really feel you’re in a Daniel Craig [film].. [Do] you work together again?
Eva Green: No, no not at all. I mean we see each other off the set you know; it’s nice to know somebody. Those parts are very very great.
Journalist: But you’ll be going back to the second Bond movie with him.
Eva Green: Well, I still don’t know!
Journalist: Oh. I thought that was all set up.
Journalist: You wear very beautiful costumes; do you think that when you wear costumes, you really transform into your role easier? What do you think?
Eva Green: Costumes? You mean in uh-
Journalist: -in this film.
Eva Green: I only have one costume.
Journalist: Oh really?
Eva Green: I don’t know how she [Serafina] washes or anything like that. (laughs) No, she has one costume; it’s quite ephereal, you know, no.. quite flowing and ~inaudible~. Pre-Raphaelite actually. The costume designer [Ruth Myers] got inspired by the Waterhouse paintings.
Journalist: That’s very regal.
Eva Green: Yeah. It’s very easy; I feel very earthy when I’m wearing this costume.
Journalist: It seems the size of the movies you’re in is growing bigger and bigger. The last time I saw you was Bond; you were saying that you were trying to share between big movies and little kind of.. are you managing to do that, or are these big productions overwhelming?
Eva Green: It’s difficult to have a plan; to be “okay, hm, I want to work with, you know, Fernando Meirelles, whatever” or I want to do that, you know. But I’m going to do a really tiny movie next, in er, July.
Journalist: In France?
Eva Green: In London. But you know, this catch [TGC] was great, it was great to be part of this incredible adventure.
Journalist: And your French career is between ~inaudible~
Eva Green: I wish I had a good script, but I haven’t.
Journalist: Last time I met you, that was pre-Bond; [it’s] now post-Bond. What has changed for you? Do you see any difference in the way that you’re conceived? Is it always “Eva: the Bond girl”
Eva Green: I’m sure for some people I’m a Bond girl, but actually it’s given me a lot of good. We live in a world where publicity is very important; it’s good to be on the cover of something – sadly it works like that; so people want me for their movies. That’s good, I’m happy to audition.
Journalist: If you had to choose an animal for your soul, what would it be?
Eva Green: A poodle. (laughter)
Journalist: You think so?
Eva Green: Yeah. A black poodle..
Journalist: A very pretty poodle.
Journalist: Do you have a pet?
Eva Green: I have a border terrier. A Scottish dog.
BridgeToTheStars: I was wondering in the film when we get that sense of disparity between Serafina’s age and her appearance; is that in the film at all? The fact that the witches-
Eva Green: -She’s three-hundred years old.
BridgeToTheStars: Did that factor into how you played her at all?
Eva Green: Yes, I mean, she’s very wise. She’s.. you see this love story with a man, with Farder Coram. She used to be in love with that man; they lived two years together and they have to separate for a certain reason – and suddenly she sees him again. It’s very moving, it’s very painful for both of them. He’s eighty-something and she looks like she’s 20 years old and they know they can’t be together. Not only because of the age, but [because] she has to.. She belongs to the North and has to live with the other witches: she’s the queen, she has to rule, she can’t leave. It’s quite moving and painful.
Journalist: How long did it take you to learn how to fly?
Eva Green: Oh, God. Two sessions a week for a month.
Journalist: For a month. And practically, what did you have to learn..?
Eva Green: To land, I had to.. it was the worst thing, because I hate flying, so it’s like imagining I’m going to crash. Each time I was like screaming.. But I got over it; it was difficult because I’m not very physical and I just had to learn to be more centred, more focused. Actually I tried to think of myself as a plane. It was quite weird, because you really had to do it to understand. Otherwise, I had to learn sword fighting. Which was quite cool. And to fire arrows.
Journalist: Why do you think that in general, fantasy stories always.. many often, very often, [are] based in England? Do you have any nice material, a story, that should be based in France? A French fantasy story? Should [one] be made, is there a film? in your mind?
Eva Green: I’ve never been a big fantasy man, so I don’t really know all the books. I don’t know. French? I don’t know French.
Journalist: Really? You didn’t know anybody?
Eva Green: No.
Journalist: You didn’t read at all.
Eva Green: I would like to use – you know those French fairytales, called Les contes de la rue Broca.
(Confusion over French book title(s). Journalist tries to get Eva to write it down.)
Eva Green: It’s completely absurd. It’s on another level; I don’t know why I mentioned it.
Journalist: You’ve never worked [on] a film with this much special effects and green screen and things before have you? or have you?
Eva Green: Green screen? Bits in Bond.
Journalist: Do you enjoy that? You say you’re not a very physical person, so does that make it more difficult for you?
Eva Green: Green screen?
Journalist: That kind of acting – that’s you know, there’s nothing there-
Eva Green: It’s not the most pleasant thing, no. I mean it’s quite bright, the colours; it’s like being on the moon, on another planet. But I had to act with human beings, so it’s okay.
BridgeToTheStars: How did you get along with Dakota? Is it your first time acting opposite a child?
Eva Green: Oh she’s very sweet. It was very easy for me because my character’s quite maternal.
Eva Green: I felt I was trying to put myself in her place – you know, “my god, it’s a big role, my god” for her; so I was really trying to make her feel comfortable. She’s very instinctive, very professional and she loves what she does. It went really well.
Journalist: How do you feel to be playing maternal characters, because it seems to be very different from the other characters you’ve played so far.
Eva Green: In Kingdom of Heaven – I don’t know if you saw the longer version – I had a.. the Countess Sibylla [Eva’s character] had some [children]. I mean, I don’t want any babies; I’m still a little baby. But it’s always very beautiful; it depends what it’s about, but.. I don’t know. I like it; I can’t explain why. It helps me to talk because I’m very shy sometimes.
Journalist: How is this for you? I mean Cannes is a real pressure-cooker for interviews, publicity and things.
Eva Green: Yes, I think. It’s actually less intense than the Bond thing. We had very.. it was just a day of Bond together and ~inaudible~ still okay. It’s not like.. The worst are, for me, the press junkets for TV. You know, 5 minutes 5 minutes we have 70 TVs to take. Urgh. You can’t think.
Journalist: Wait until December.
Journalist: So, you don’t like auditioning, Cannes, press conferences, interviews. Are you a shy person? Do you like to be more in the background?
Eva Green: Yes. I mean I don’t really like.. I’ve never been very eloquent, you know with scores [??] hugging gauze [??]; blushing or sweating when someone was asking a question. So that’s good – I have improved, I think. But it’s um.. quite weird.
Journalist: Is this harder than doing a movie?
Eva Green: Yes. Yes. (laughter) Different job.
Journalist: Did you have any doubt about any taking on something that could be a franchise – three movies probably – presumably you’re signed on..?
Eva Green: Yes.
Journalist: That’s a big chunk of your life at this stage. Any doubts about that?
Eva Green: Um. I mean, I really hope the movie’s is going to be very good. I think it’s, you know, it’s on the right track. It’s such a beautiful, powerful movie – I mean, story. I’m not scared, no – and it’s not all on my shoulders!
Journalist: Do you see it [the story] as an allegory for contemporary times? I mean, the subversive elements: dogma-
Eva Green: Like the Magisterium you mean?
Journalist: Yes, yes. I mean the whole instituion.
Eva Green: The Magisterium can be associated with like a Communist system, you know, prevent[ing] people from thinking themselves. But this trilogy goes beyond all that. It’s really about.. Dust – I don’t know if you’ve read it – but it’s very metaphysical, philosophical, about God – but not in a bad way; you know people love “oh my god, it’s anti-Christian.” It’s not at all; it’s highly spiritual.
Journalist: For a film that aims to be so ~inaudible~ like this one, did you feel any pressure to put the issues like not being anti-Christian, not being anti-dogma, not being ~inaudible~ onto the production axe?
Eva Green: I don’t know. I don’t know. I can’t answ-.. I don’t know what’s it’s going to be like. But um. Religion is present, you can’t avoid it; it’s going to be there; people are going to be “oh my god.” You don’t know. It’s a very tricky subject. Chris [Weitz] can answer that. I don’t want to.. say something bad.