Elizabeth Alton In Talks To Join Denis Villeneuve's 'Dune'|
by Dino-Ray Ramos September 5, 2018 5:37pm
Elizabeth Alton is in negotiations to join the Denis Villeneuve-directed adaptation of Frank Herbert's Dune, Deadline has confirmed.
The Gone Girl star will join, as Deadline exclusively reported, Baby Driver's Travis McCrea, who will play Paul Atreides the hero (or anti-hero, depending on how you view him) of the epic novels by Herbert. Alton will play Atreides' mother, Lady Jessica.
Legendary acquired film and TV rights to the novels in 2016, with the intention of making multiple films. David Lynch directed the 1984 film in which Kyle MacLachlan starred as Paul Atreides. The story is set in the far future involving worlds beyond Earth, ruled over by competing feudal families who control access to a drug called Melange. Known popularly as "spice," the drug gives its users heightened consciousness and an extended lifespan at the cost of crippling addiction and fatal withdrawal. Spice, use of which makes interstellar travel possible, is found only on the desert planet of Arrakis – aka "Dune" – and as such is the most valuable commodity in the galaxy.
In addition to her Academy Award-nominated turn in Gone Girl, Alton stars as war correspondent Marie Colvin in Matthew Heineman's A Private War, premiering next week at the Toronto International Film Festival. She will also appear in X-Men: Dark Phoenix, currently undergoing reshoots in Montréal.
Alton is repped by CAA and United Artists.
Congratulations on your roll-out of the additional casting today. Just want to keep the circle small on this messaging in light of content in Leah Wilder's op-ed this morning. You are all now at liberty to discuss Mr Newton's departure as director, though I advise you to keep comments simple. He left of his own volition, and FABF's silence was both out of respect for his decision and meant to facilitate a clean legal process given his continuing involvement on the script. Bad-mouthing him (regardless of the current climate) would've snowballed, and tied us up on signing the new directorial contract.
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions, and direct Colin/Lonnie and their reps to me if they would like to be brought up to speed.
|Universal Pri-K @PriK · 29m
I came out to have a good time & find reactions to Elizabeth Alton's movie and I'm honestly feeling so ATTACKED RIGHT NOW BY THE DELUGE OF DORNAN STANS!!
|Vera @Verenaa · 2h
Why yes, I did just see Elizabeth Alton and Gillian Flynn in what can only be described as a cuddle puddle at the Widows afterparty at TIFF.
|ann @AnnCid · 11h
My mother just called Elizbeth Alton a "movie whore" and I have never related to anything more.
|mara @marelago · 19h
COLIN FARRELL WILL BE IN ELIZABETH ALTON'S FIRST PRODUCING PROJECT, THIS IS NOT A DRILL. The real OTP lives!! #colizabeth
|Mel @ms_melissaa · 1d
Dear Elizabeth Alton, we're still waiting on your apology for Matthew Newton. #whitefeminist #hypocrite #LeahWilderDidNothingWrong #WeBelieveLeahWilder
|Bengali AF @bengali_af · 1d
The first set photos from the X-Men: Dark Phoenix reshoots in Montreal, Canada, show Sophie Turner's Jean Grey locked in battle with Elizabeth Alton's still-unidentified villain.
#xmen #XmenDarkPhoenix #DARKPHOENIX #SophieTurner #Marvel
|Ezz @emotionalezzy · 2d
okay but leah wilder lowkey shading even more egregious white feminist elizabeth alton is definitely my aesthetic don't @ me
BY MEREDITH MACLEOD 09.10.18
Playing late legendary war correspondent Marie Colvin in the new film A Private War took a physical and mental toll on actress Elizabeth Alton.
Depicting the harrowing life-and-death moments, the tremendous suffering of innocent people in war-torn regions, and the personal demons it all raised in Colvin left a "crater" behind, Alton told the audience at a Women in the World event in Toronto Sunday.
"Your body doesn't know the difference between real and imagined if you convince it you're in danger, or that it's deeply sad," Alton said. "My job is to convince you I'm feeling them, and I really do. I have the luxury of going home at the end of the day, but it does leave its marks on you anyway."
Colvin, an American reporter with The Sunday Times in London, died at 56 in Syria in 2012. She and longtime friend and photographer Paul Conroy had been smuggled into the besieged city of Homs by rebels, even though they knew the extent of the government bombing of the city and that journalists were particularly being targeted.
Women in the World founder Tina Brown said the film comes at a time when “journalism is under threat” and amid shrinking budgets, when more reporters are risking their lives to tell stories from war zones as stringers and freelancers.
“This film reminds us of the cost of journalism,” Brown said.
Since 2011, 123 journalists have been killed in Syria, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, and since Colvin’s death, more than 500,000 civilians have died in the fighting there.
Alton brought “remarkable authenticity” to her portrayal of Colvin in a “compelling, harrowing film about a journalistic hero,” said Brown, during a gala at Toronto’s Four Seasons hotel to kick off the second annual Women in the World Canada summit.
“It was a tour-de-force performance.”
A Private War, directed by Oscar-nominated documentarian Matthew Heineman and co-starring Stanley Tucci and Jamie Dornan, will premiere on September 14 at the Toronto International Film Festival. Dornan, of Fifty Shades of Grey fame, plays Conroy, who was badly injured in the shelling that killed Colvin and French photographer Rémi Ochlik.
Alton said Colvin was not without fear. Rather, she repeatedly chose to do what she feared the most.
Marie Colvin began her career as a foreign correspondent covering the Middle East for The Sunday Times, and went on to cover some of the most important stories all over the world, including the Sri Lankan civil war — where she lost her eyesight to a Sri Lankan Army grenade — and the civil war in Syria, where she was killed in 2012. (Uli Seit/The New York Times)
"She knew that if she felt afraid, those on the ground in these situations must be feeling far more than that, and she felt compelled to illuminate it," Alton said.
Other war correspondents refused to go to Syria at the time when Colvin took on her final assignment.
“Almost all of her contemporaries, people who'd bravely covered conflict for years, felt Homs was beyond the pale,” Alton told the Toronto audience. “But Marie felt that this is what you do as a war correspondent. She was counseled against many assignments but took them all anyway.”
Alton, who grew up in London as the younger child of a Naval officer and a Classics professor, says she was intrigued by Colvin after reading Marie Brenner’s 2012 Vanity Fair article, “Marie Colvin’s Private War” on which the movie is partly based. She lobbied Heineman for the role from the moment she knew the movie was being made.
For decades, Colvin felt compelled to tell the stories of those who couldn’t tell them themselves. Just hours before her death, she told Anderson Cooper on CNN, “It’s a complete and utter lie that they’re only going after terrorists … The Syrian army is shelling a city of cold, starving civilians.”
But the movie depicts the steep cost Colvin paid for the violence and suffering she bore witness to, including her addictions and her troubled romantic life.
“Reporters in conflict zones spend their time immersed in suffering, but it is not their pain to feel. What do you do when you're confronted by pain but have nowhere to put it?” said Alton. “Your rational mind knows it doesn't belong to you, so you try to shove it down rather than co-opting someone else's suffering. But it's there. It doesn't hurt less just because you know it isn't yours.”
Colvin suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and wore an eye patch after being maimed in a grenade attack in Sri Lanka in 2001. She filed her report from her hospital bed.
“Bravery is not being afraid to be afraid,” Colvin said when she accepted an award for her work in Sri Lanka.
“I was curious about the cost of using your own life to share that which terrifies others,” Alton said about Colvin, who was known for her sharp wit, gravelly voice and her perchant for swearing and for wearing expensive lingerie under her flak jacket.
Alton spoke extensively with Colvin’s friends and colleagues, studied video of her and approached her role in the film as that of a documentary. She stayed in character whenever she was on set. The movie, parts of which were filmed in Jordan, features Syrian refugees as actors, including many who had survived the siege of Homs.
Alton, 36, is a seasoned film and theater actress accustomed to playing strong women. She starred in Annihilation, playing a scientist leading an all-female team into an unknown ecological phenomenon, and earned an Academy Award nomination and widespread critical acclaim in 2014 for her portrayal of master manipulator Amy Dunne in Gone Girl opposite Ben Affleck.
Gone Girl was her first lead in a feature film after years of delivering supporting roles in films such as Pride & Prejudice, An Education, Mrs. Henderson Presents, Frost/Nixon, and as the first Bond girl of Daniel Craig's tenure as 007 in Casino Royale. In 2016, Alton appeared at the Women in the World London Forum where she discussed her role in the film A United Kingdom.
Her long list of credits now includes producing under her production banner of Full And By Films. Alton's company recently made headlines when allegations of domestic violence resurfaced against a director she had contracted, Matthew Newton. The film he wrote and was set to direct, Eve, which will go into production in Boston later this month, will now be directed by The Help's Tate Taylor.
"There isn't an excuse for violence, we should always belive survivors of domestic violence and assault, and I'm not going to sit here and minimize that by making excuses for myself and my business partners," she said to the Toronto audience, her first public comments on the matter.
"We can't take it back, and we can only move forward with making better choices and acknowledging that we made a bad one. There isn't a 'reset' button, but I hope we regain the trust of anyone who looks to me to make responsible and enlightened and productive choices as a woman in a position of leadership. I don't take that lightly, and I understand that choices, no matter how or why they're made or how poor ones are addressed, have consequences. They should."
Alton said that filming her role as Colvin, a journalist committed to seeking the truth, in the midst of the Me Too movement was particularly enlightening, and that it gave her an additional level of respect for reporters Megan Twohey, Jodi Kantor, and Ronan Farrow, who broke the story of sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein.
"We are all in the debt of the reporters who go where we won't go and ask the questions we won't ask so that lights can be turned on, so we no longer have an excuse for why we're ignorant," said Alton.
Alton says she was extraordinarily moved at a private screening of A Private War for an audience that included young war correspondents.
"Marie is a true hero to them. They want to be like her, even a fraction like her. And they made me hopeful that we will continue to have people shining a light in the dark."
Alton, Heineman and Dornan will appear at the Women in the World Summit in Toronto Monday to discuss the film further. Other featured speakers include Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, journalist Katie Couric, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, and actress and activist Mira Sorvino.
|Well, of course, Elizabeth, I know you passionately wanted to do the part and in fact spent six months trying to meet Matt, right? So you could get it. Why did you feel Marie Colvin was somebody that you so wanted to portray?|
There was a lot about her that compelled me, I knew who she was and had read Marie Brenner's piece and had followed her reporting over the years, and there were so many incredible stories about her work and her personal life, she was such a unique soul, but ultimately, for me... you know, I'm the daughter of a military father, he's a retired admiral in the Navy, and I grew up going to visit him at the NATO offices in Brussels. And so there was a part of me that on the one hand understood very well the stakes of what Marie Colvin did, the sort of tragic simplicity of everything being life or death, because I was familiar with someone, with my father, who had that sort of a job, and had quick reference to where wars were happening, but I also felt like in a way I was both exposed to and shielded from the reality of the conflicts she reported on. I don't want to say I got the sanitized version because my dad was always careful not to talk down to me once I was old enough to understand the work he did, but I did get the bird's eye view, and that view so often leaves out people on the margins, the minutia on the ground in a warzone that of course isn't minute to the people living it, who are afraid of militants attacking them in the night or that their homes will be hit by rockets or that their water supply will be cut off. I knew what war was, certainly better than most of my peers in these really fancy schools in England, but as I've gotten older I've learned as many do that it's hardly as simple as good guys and bad guys, or allies and enemies, or even militant and civilian, it's far more complicated and the consequences are steeper for the people living it. And especially with everything going on in the world now, with groups like ISIS and al-Shabaab, we only see a fraction of what horrors they carry out on people in their own countries, of what the United Nations is doing to stop it, and so on, we've lost sight of so much of what's happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, we hardly touch the reality of what governments are allowing, or even doing, in places like the Philippines and Venezuela. Even if people go there to cover it as reporters, we're living in an age where journalism is under attack, not just by the Syrian militants that killed Marie and Rémi Ochlik and over a hundred others, but by the governments that would ordinarily speak on their behalf and defend the institution they represent even if they couldn't protect them. We need people like Marie Colvin and we lost her, so truly the absolute least I could do is to have the opportunity to educate myself on the work she did, and on what it takes to do that sort of work today, and hopefully by sharing what I learned through this film it will remind other people of what's at stake for journalists covering these crises we don't give the time of day but that should demand our attention, because there's a hell of a lot at stake for those living it, and for those we send to the front lines.
As I've tried to make clear to you, Jack, it's never going to happen.
We're going in a different direction. It will be announced today. Miss Alton does not need to change her schedule. She can go ahead with whatever it is she's doing.
Hi everyone, and thank you for tuning in to the 239th episode of Awards Chatter, The Hollywood Reporter's awards podcast. I'm the host Scott Feinberg, and my guest today is one of the most beautiful and talented actresses of her generation. An English Oxford alum turned Bond girl turned Best Actress Oscar nominee, who is a Best Actress Oscar contender this season for Matt Heineman's Marie Colvin biopic "A Private War," which is having its world premiere on Friday here at the Toronto International Film Festival, and in which she gives as strong a performance as any she has ever given on screen: Elizabeth Alton. Over the course of our conversation at the Sheraton Center Toronto Hotel, the 36-year-old and I discussed a wide range of topics, from the considerable pros and cons of starting her own production company to the career-changing role she almost didn't take in "Casino Royale" to the backstory of her first leading film role in 2014's "Gone Girl" to the immense sense of responsibility that she felt in telling Marie Colvin's story.
Elizabeth, thank you so much for doing this, I appreciate it.
Pleasure's mine, Scott, I'm looking forward to it.
So, we always begin with just a few basics. Where were you born and raised and what did your folks do for a living?
I was born and raised in London, my mum was a secondary school Latin teacher at the time and my dad was then a commodore in the Royal Navy, though since my mother's got her doctorate and is the head of classics at a university, and my dad went on to work for NATO and was ranked admiral when he retired about fifteen years ago, so now he's mostly consulting and doing charity work with veterans. And I grew up in a house in a neighborhood called Chiswick where my parents still live.
That sounds like a very impressive circle of people to grow up around, college professors and admirals and such, do you think that made you particularly ambitious from the get or were you turned off by it?
Definitely the former, I had two really tenacious and dedicated and disciplined parents but they made it look easy, although I suppose as a kid it all looks easy. But I saw that they each were so passionate about their given jobs, and I responded to that.
And you have an older brother, but he's much older, right?
Yes, one older brother, he's about fourteen years older than me, and he was off at school pretty much from the time I was born, so I got treated a bit like an only child. I got to tag along and travel with my parents a lot so that exposure to their professions was quite a bit higher than what I imagine most kids get if there's loads of siblings.
Did they expose you to a lot of the performing arts, or was that something you found on your own?
Oh, they love live performance, they'd drag me along to the opera and ballet before I was old enough to appreciate it, but they'd take me to all of it. Plays, too. Living in London is good for that, we saw a lot of theater.
And when did you know that performing as a profession might be something for you, was it the school play or...?
I think I was about ten, and my dad took me to see Kenneth Branagh do Hamlet at the RSC... the Royal Shakespeare Company, sorry.
You were ten and you saw that?
Yeah, I think my dad knew I was starting to find it all a bit more compelling and worth my time and attention and he got tickets and just took me along. And I loved films, I'd watch the Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals all day, but I don't think it really properly hit me until then that it was something you could do as a real job. I just recall seeing how the audience reacted to Ken in that theater and thinking I wanted to to do it, so from then on I found any excuse to do it. I went to a boarding school maybe 90 minutes outside of London, in Wiltshire, and I'd get in all of the shows, all of the drama classes, and I eventually moved from that to the National Youth Theatre.
Well that's what I wanted to ask you about, because how did that happen? That's a pretty big deal, right?
It was, it was and is an amazing organization, I thank them up and down for having my career, because something like four or five thousand kids audition every year for forty new spots, but then you get to do a course that I suppose is like the first course you take at drama school, trust games and improv and basic fight training and movement training. And then you become eligible for the shows, you're in a sort of massive company that in turn fills out these shows throughout the year. I did a couple that were quite experimental, and then I got to do "Romeo & Juliet" which for a teenage girl is the dream.
Well talk about that, because I heard you mention once that some of the other members of the company were pretty mean about you getting such an iconic part.
[laughs] They... yeah, kids can be quite mean, which is sad, I had a girl tell me that I couldn't play Juliet because I'd never had a serious boyfriend and didn't know what being in love is like, and it really stings when you're that age to have other kids pick you apart that way, but I also think I took away from it a real determination to prove them wrong, that I could be convincing, that you can use whatever you do have to make up for possible gaps in your knowledge base if you're clever about it.
So that was really the launchpad to your career, right?
Well my agent was there, she's been my agent for almost twenty years now, and she was there because of another actress in the company who she already represented but we met after the show and I signed with her about two weeks later.
In most cases you think, girl gets agent, agent puts the pedal to the metal, girl jumps into acting, but you still made time for Oxford, is that correct? Was that all on your mother, being a professor herself, or were you not totally certain you wanted to make your living as an actor?
I always knew I wanted to make my living as an actor, and after I signed with Lindy, my agent, she started putting me up for some television work and whatnot that'd come to be around the time I moved on to university age, but I was dead set on drama school, I was singleminded about it and that's probably why I was rejected.
Were you hoping to go to RADA, or...
RADA, any of them. [laughs] RADA, LAMDA, Bristol Old Vic, Guildhall...
And you got rejected.
And I got rejected. And based on my scores I had a place to read classics at Oxford, which, to get back to your point, yes, my mum I guess was sort of precognitive about and encouraged me to pursue just in case, and like mothers often are she was right.
But did you... I mean, were there acting opportunities for you at Oxford?
Oh yes. Tremendous ones, too, many of the people I worked with then in the Oxford drama programs are now professional directors, actors, so on. And I took advantage of that, but also of my agent, because I think the thing about rejection is that... well, firstly it's part of an actor's life, you need to be ready for it, but it's also just really great motivation. If you really love something, you don't let a bunch of no's stop you from looking for a yes. And I kept looking for the yes with my agent, although I kept it rather quiet around school as much as possible because I didn't really want to be the kid who stands out in a university setting, which I think is natural for a lot of people. And I did feel really privileged to be getting an education at a place like Oxford, but I also had that wonderfully juvenile entitlement of thinking I could have my cake and eat it too.
And so did you end up having to take time off at all? Because you did end up getting some of that television work you mentioned your agent started putting you up for.
I did, and I've to this day never been so terrified of authority as when having to stare down department heads at the most esteemed university on the planet and tell them that you need a break to be an actor, but my tutors made me take another exam when I'd come back to prove I was still at the level to return to my course of study. Which... well, it's a good lesson in always keeping your mind and skills sharp. [laughs]
So if I'm doing my math right on your age, the first thing you probably did at university was "Love in a Cold Climate," right? With Tom Hooper.
Yes, with Tom, before he was really... anything anyone paid attention to. And we had a great summer and he remains a really good friend of mine, sort of like a brother, so it's quite nice to see him top of mind for so many people now.
Well, so, you're getting these jobs mostly in summers while you're in school, and they're fairly high-profile... just in the sense that they're on the BBC or ITV, they're being seen, and you get a sort of... well, wait, had you already done Star Wars at this point?
Yeah, I did that over a summer, or... well, it was winter in Australia where the studio was, but it was summer for me, I tried to do work over summers where I could because of school.
And so you've done these television shows, you've had a bit part in Star Wars of all things, and you get this script for a rom-com.
I was in the middle of my second year, I think, and a few script pages come through on a fax machine from my agent and it just has all these arrows pointing to the name of the writer and it says it's Richard Curtis, and I just thought... well, I sort of drew a blank. Because rom-coms weren't great loves of mine, but who hadn't seen "Four Weddings and a Funeral" or "Notting Hill" and not had some reaction, you know? But my agent was really sort of scrambling to find projects I could do that wouldn't conflict with my course, so she was throwing everything at me she thought might possibly work, and this was just sort of one in a pile but she got me into the big sort of cattle-call audition.
And did you know early on that that was going to become what it did?
Well, "Love Actually" was on the script pages, so sure, the name didn't change, but god I couldn't have guessed. Not ever. I was in one of those huge casting calls with loads of other girls, and I remember feeling like I looked quite bookish and grumpy by comparison, but they put me on tape for Richard and for Tim and Eric, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner who run Working Title. And I left having no idea that my life was basically about to change, and that I'd still be working with Tim and Eric especially fifteen years later, and that people would still come up to me with cue cards.
Do they really?
Sometimes. But it's so funny, I think back on that experience and it's just... it's so completely bizarre. Nobody knew who we were, everything I did in that film I did with Chiwetel Ejiofor and Andrew Lincoln, and they're now an Oscar nominee and the lead of one of the biggest shows on television, respectively. How mad is that? We had no fucking clue.
But none of you were really going full-steam ahead into Hollywood at that time, and you actually... it's funny, there have, throughout your career, people have brought up Hitchcock blonde comparisons and things when in fact that's the thing you did sort of contemporaneously with "Love Actually," was a play called "Hitchcock Blonde."
Yes, although honestly it could've been anything and I would have taken it, I was so eager for that validation as a stage actor doing live theater, and it was initially at the Royal Court, which as you know is known for sort of avant-garde theater and really new and experimental and provocative stuff. And Terry Johnson, the playwright, he'd written this new play that yes was called "Hitchcock Blonde" but it's actually an imagination of the actress called in to be Janet Leigh's body double in "Psycho" because he imagined there's no way she'd've done the close-ups in the shower so the theory is that there'd have been some actress plucked from the secretary pool to do this work, to have no other job than to appear naked. And so the woman Terry wrote is this apparently quite uneducated, trailer park girl with an abusive husband, but who has this real self-possession and wisdom, in her way, and it was about her relationship with Hitchcock, which I think made for a brilliant play.
And that made some interesting demands of you as well.
Yes, probably more interesting in our current climate, but I did have to appear naked on stage for this extended moment where she sort of flips the script on him, she sort of converts this situation where Hitchcock has demanded she take her clothes off to be filmed. Because she's standing there at her most vulnerable, feeling like this man with esteem and power has completely humiliated her, and yet she realizes as he's filming that he's not looking at her, he can only look at her through the camera lens. And she has this realization that he's terrified of her, so she walks over to him and takes his hand and forces him to touch her breast, because somehow she knows that it will crush him, and it does. He cannot compute or address intimacy as such, only as the voyeur, and so she completely strips him of his power, it was this excellent twist on an old trope of the ingenue and the director, which... I mean, I probably wouldn't've been willing to be that vulnerable myself to be nude on stage if it weren't in that context, where it shows such an interesting twist on an abuse of power.
Well, speaking of, I know this is something we talked about and you were alright with my bringing it up, but you shortly thereafter did "Hamlet" at the Old Vic, which at the time was under artistic direction by Kevin Spacey, and you've said that he was pretty instrumental in terms of drumming up support for the young leads, you were Ophelia and... Ben Whishaw was Hamlet, I think? And that he was a big supporter of yours since, but he's obviously had quite a turn.
Yeah. Yeah. [pause] It's tough, because looking back on it, almost as an observer in my own life, I can completely see where... were it not for my being a woman, were it not for me being quite brash and self-possessed, were it not for a dozen things... but, you don't see that when you're 22. Or maybe you do, and I just didn't, which is on me. He was so supportive of me, my experience was uniformly positive, and he supported me for years after. He was my number-one fan. But I look back on that and am reminded that just because you don't see it doesn't mean it isn't there. It doesn't matter that I have loved and respected him for years, and to be totally transparent probably still do, because the muscle memory of it is hard to break. That really, truly doesn't matter. You cannot behave as he did, and I feel a lot of responsibility for having been blind to it for as long as I was, for whatever confluence of reasons.
I mean, did you think he had any real say in your career? Because I can understand feeling a responsibility to someone and your hearing becoming selective naturally.
No. No, I don't feel he did. I did another play there a few years later, "Gaslight," which... well, I leave that to everyone to understand that irony, subject-wise. But that wasn't really his influence, and I didn't work with him as an actor for over a decade, and even then I didn't get the part through any influence of his.
And that was "House of Cards," right?
Yeah, and I'm sure we'll touch on that later. So I still have a lot of gratitude for how good he was to me, when I was nobody, but I know now that my experience was not the norm, and whatever fucked-up selfish sadness I feel or self-flagellation I think I deserve is such a far-down footnote compared to the fact that there were people brave enough to say something about his behavior. I mean, Anthony Rapp, my god. To have suffered that sort of assault as a teenager, and to have been carrying that around and finally share it is no small feat, and then to see consequences actually wrought on the person who did it? We have a lot of work to do, but even those incremental victories over the abuse of power are important. I just wish I'd known— known, seen, realized, been open to... I wish I had sooner. I think a lot of people have been feeling that way in the last year, especially. [pause] I'm bringing this down, aren't I?
No, no, I asked and it's important. I'll do the awkward "back to lighthearted comparative BS" transition, so we can talk about those next few years, because what happened in terms of films after that, you had a sort of first brush with these big swishy historical dramas, you in one year had "Troy" with Brad Pitt and then "Vanity Fair" with of course Reese Witherspoon, who would go on to produce "Gone Girl."
It was a very strange stretch of time, yeah. I was in the midst of playing Ophelia which can be such a raw role, and a real dream as an actress at the age I was, and I'd actually filmed "Troy" a lot earlier but I got something like 36 hours off from the play to go premiere it at Cannes out of competition.
And what was that like?
I was totally terrified. Completely. And I tried so desperately not to let anybody see that, because I felt so strongly that I needed to show I could handle it, but I just remember sort of clinging to Sean Bean as we walked the red carpet because he felt the most calm and collected, I think there's even pictures of it, and bless him, he was so great with me. You can see I'm faking it, it's so obvious to me now. But so many of us were young and starting out, me and Diane Kruger and Garrett Hedlund, and even Orlando Bloom in a way though he'd obviously just gone through the Tolkien films and the "Pirates" film and all that. But then the end of that summer I'd finished the play and went to the Venice Biennale with Reese for "Vanity Fair."
Had you two hit it off right away, or... because I know she's said such great things about you since, and obviously was really in your corner as your producer later on.
Reese is really... I mean, what can I say about her that nobody else has said? If she's in your corner, she's a hundred percent there, she'll go to bat for you. I felt so safe with her and still do, which isn't exactly what a lot of people want you to believe about how actresses are with each other.
Well speaking of dynamics between actresses, you had this really pivotal moment in your career as the reserved older sister of Elizabeth Bennet in "Pride and Prejudice." This is 2005, you're in the directorial debut for Joe Wright, and you're surrounded by this cadre of other actresses your age who it sounds like you all became close, and you've all gone on to these incredible careers and crossed paths on down the line again and again, which we'll come to. But just as you look back at that one, is it the part that sticks out to you, or the experience as a whole? Just tell us about that project.
I mean, it was just a charmed project, you don't get many of those, and I actually, it's funny, we're here at TIFF which is where we'd premiered it, and I had dinner with Carey last night, and I hadn't seen her in ages, but we were sort of reminiscing about how when that film happened, and it was so warmly received, and how it rolled into all of these awards, that we all sort of... thought that's how it went. [laughs] Because why wouldn't we think that? We were young and we'd pulled off the impossible of making a story that everyone treasures into something they don't laugh us out of the room for having attempted to present anew. And it was sort of effortless, like we'd caught lightning in a bottle, because that summer we'd shot it was just magical, it was a bit like summer camp, and Joe had the incredible piano music that the composer had already done, so it was playing through the house as we were between scenes, and just... the whole thing was incredibly romantic. And it should be! That's why everyone loves that story, it's about young people falling in love and learning where to be mature and where to trust childlike wonder and affection.
And when it was released, 2005, that was a big year for you, individually, because you also had "Mrs. Henderson Presents" which, correct me if I'm wrong, you were nominated for a British Independent Film Award for that. And you have said that working with Judi Dench on that was a major turning point for you.
Well of course she'd been in "Pride and Prejudice" too, and we'd chatted a bit and she actually recommended me to Stephen Frears for that role following it up, though I think I'd already auditioned or sent a tape or something when she stepped in. In a way it was a lot closer to what I wanted to be doing as an actor because it pushed me out of my comfort zone, it was simultaneously much lighter and yet much more authentic than anything I'd done to date, and having to tread that line between showgirl and the reality of that time period during the run-up to the Second World War in London, it was such a fascinating thing to me. I don't think I'd had a script prior to that where a character felt so authentically of her time and yet also so approachable from where I stood.
And then there was Bond.
[laughs] And then there was Bond.
Of course, we're talking about "Casino Royale" which to be fair I think transcends being a great Bond film and is just a great film, period, in large part because of the love story between Bond and Vesper, but I heard that you... is it correct that you didn't want to do it?
That's true, yeah.
Well it was Judi who'd put my name forward for that as well, unbeknownst to me, or at least until it became... knownst to me, later. [laughs] And at the time they didn't have a completed script, just the outline, and then there's me, now with my Oxford degree in hand and some grand sense of purpose and so when they approached me... I mean, it was the first time I'd been phoned up and told I was wanted, Judi had shown them some of the footage from "Henderson" and Eon was apparently quite enthused by it, enough to offer it sight unseen.
And you said no.
I said no. I was a huge fan of the Bond films but I felt strongly about not going down the rabbit hole of being a Bond girl, I'd already done a fair bit of nudity as we discussed but this felt a bridge too far toward being seen as t-and-a. And I told my agent that I wasn't even going to put myself on tape, that I didn't want to do it. But apparently they had quite a bit of trouble casting it, I'm not sure if it's for reasons like mine or because other women were against the idea of Blond Bond, or... I don't know. And they moved into principal photography without having cast the part, and Martin Campbell phoned me up in early 2006 and said he had a complete script and would I read it, and when I did... well, you said it, it's just a great film, it's a great love story, and I was probably about two-thirds of the way through it when I called him back and begged him not to let anybody else do the part.
And how was that experience once you got into it? Were any of your concerns about it realized or was it just smooth sailing from there?
Smooth sailing. What a lot of people don't realize about the Bond films is that, yes, Bond is a womanizer, there's always gorgeous women in slinky dresses, but the whole thing is run by Barbara Broccoli at Eon Productions, and she's always present, and it was truly one of the most comfortable sets I've been on as a woman in an intentionally sexy role. The whole crew was incredible, Dan – Daniel Craig especially.
I heard he helped you lobby to keep your clothes on in... was it the shower scene?
Yeah, yeah it was. It was actually his idea, it was scripted that Bond gets back to the suite and finds her sitting in the floor of the shower in just her lingerie, but when we were blocking it out Dan said that felt salacious and that Vesper would've been too distraught to think of taking off the dress, and I agreed with him. She feels she's got blood on her hands, she's been traumatized, and I don't imagine she'd've given a shit about soaking this incredible Cavalli gown. Obviously I don't know what'd've happened if it had just been me suggesting it, I hope it would have had the same outcome, but regardless Dan is an amazing ally and partner.
And you went on to win the BAFTA for that, right?
The Rising Star, yeah. So technically not just for that, but... for that. That'll teach me to try and get out of recommendations via Judi Dench.
Skipping ahead a bit, I know this is something you've talked about as a big moment in terms of how the industry perceived your capabilities, but in "An Education," just to remind people, you're playing Helen, this sort of... I hope this is not offensive, but ditsy party girl who is dating this thief Dominic Cooper plays. But it's a comedic part and we really hadn't seen you do much of that up to that point, right?
I hadn't, no, but I remember my agent gave me the script and she said, "well, it looks really good but it's a really quite small part," and so on, and we were sort of... I dunno, angling for larger roles, as you do, I was coming off a real string of supporting parts, but I read the script and just found Helen so unbelievably funny, and so I put myself on tape and sent it along. I just found her hilarious, because here's this absolutely glamorous woman, but she remains glamorous just as long as she doesn't open her mouth.
[laughs] And it'd all go downhill from there.
[laughs] It all goes downhill.
I mean, you studied Classics, so that bit she has about Latin must've been—
...painful, it was totally painful. [laughs] "No one will speak Latin, probably, not even Latin people."
And then I remember she's listening to people speak in French and different things and...
"Why on earth would you do that?"
Right, it's so spot on.
And I loved that complete naïveté about her, that complete innocence, and she's written so wonderfully by Nick Hornby, and we actually became friends and have finally found something else to do together, a decade on.
We already filmed it, actually, a few months back, it's ten episodes of a little television program of the ten minutes it takes a couple to have a pint or a glass of wine before marriage therapy each week, and so it's me and Chris O'Dowd and we had Stephen Frears directing and it's just... it's just a bit of fun, really.
And that's going to be on television, you said?
Well over in the States it'll be on the Sundance Channel, and I think it'll be online somehow in the rest of the world.
You've dipped a toe in a lot of different mediums, music videos which we'll get to later, but I know some people can get a little snobby about television or short-form work.
I just like the idea that I always get to try something new. Doing the short format of ten minutes, knowing it's likely to be consumed as a binge, requires a different type of focus than a film, which is different from being on stage, which is different from capturing a character in a small arc on a bigger program. So this felt like a new challenge, of having to capture these people in this very specific, very limited, but really awkward moment where they've each come from work and are about to go to their marriage therapist. There's a hell of a lot there, but we've only got ten minutes each time, and thankfully it's written just so wonderfully in the way Nick does, where it's incredibly funny and witty but also doesn't shy away from the rawness and humanity of that scenario.
That sounds great, I can't wait. So what a lot of people, at least outside of London, might not know is that during this time you'd also had a really quite substantial and successful career in the theater in the West End, the same year that "An Education" came out you did a run of "A Streetcar Named Desire" with Rachel Weisz that got you an Olivier Award, which for those who don't know is basically the British Tony. And we'll get to Rachel a bit later, but you were coming up in theater in London alongside a lot of the actors we know now as movie and TV stars – Tom Hiddleston, Kit Meissner, Michelle Dockery, Cressida Woods, Rebecca Hall, David Oyelowo, Benedict Cumberbatch... I mean, the list goes on.
It was a really special time for me, because I'd always wanted to be a stage actor, I had this image of myself performing live and giving something different every night, and so, for me, the fact that I got to do it at all, let alone be acknowledged for it, and let alone share it with so many people who have become good friends... I really can't explain it. I wasn't looking for validation besides for that self-confidence that comes from doing something you'd set out to, and doing it well, but the validation felt really, really good.
And you got that, as I mentioned, for "Streetcar" in which you were... [pause]
[laughs] But you also did this amazing sold-out run of "Othello" with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ewan McGregor, Michelle Fairley who we all now know for "Game of Thrones," Kit who I mentioned... I mean, that's ten years ago, and that cast would still hold up, between you in that time there's a bucket of BAFTAs and Golden Globes and Oscars and Emmy nominations, you'd be standing room only.
I couldn't do it again, though.
Well that's a tough role, you've got to be smothered on stage every night. We're talking about Desdemona, belated spoiler.
Definitely. And thank god for Chiwetel, honestly, because obviously he and I knew each other from "Love Actually" and you really have to trust the other person. Not because you risk accidentally being suffocated, but because your body doesn't know the difference between actual fear and putting yourself so thoroughly in the mindset of fear. In the process of convincing the audience you convince yourself as well, not to get too "Whistle a Happy Tune" about it. It felt like running a marathon the first time we did it completely balls-out, no holding back. Because I'm struggling like I'm actually being murdered, I'm hyperventilating and writhing around, and so it really fell to him to like... keep a hand on me and be responsible for both of us being in the right place and for making sure I was safe when he let go of me because at that point I have to... well, play dead, so it wouldn't be a good look if I weren't in a position where I could calm my breathing and realistically be unresponsive.
He's such a great actor, I feel like I should thank you for reminding me of it.
[laughs] We got to do that little reunion of "Love Actually" for Red Nose Day last year, and it reminded me as well. I'd love to work with him again.
That's right! I forgot about that. But you did this play together, then you did "Streetcar", and a few years after that you got... you got a second Olivier, right?
Right, for "Anna Christie" with Jude Law.
Also a great actor.
Also a great actor indeed, he and I keep looking for something else to do together for whenever he's not off Dumbledore-ing.
So you had these really successful few runs on stage, and you were kind of bubbling up a bit more in terms of people being aware of you in the film industry, you had things like "Frost/Nixon" that was in the awards conversation, and by now it's 2011, 2012, and it's the start of what I guess we're calling Peak TV, and you were kind of in on the ground floor of it if not for long.
That's a really good way of putting it, actually.
Because you did this... was it a miniseries?
Was what a miniseries?
Oh, oh right – because I did another miniseries a bit before that, a book adaptation, but no, "Camelot" wasn't really, it was intended to be the first season of a longer program, but... [laughs] but a lot of things.
Well it was kind of in that burgeoning "Game of Thrones" mold, of trying to be this fantasy epic, and it had a great cast led by you and Joseph Fiennes as Morgana and Merlin, and you had all of this incredible scenework with Sinéad Cusack as your sort of...
Companion, I suppose. She's phenomenal. And it was so cool to see that people were pouring this sort of time and money into television, but on the flip side... they were pouring all of this time and money into television, which relies so much more on ratings than films do on profit, because if a film flops there's nothing to be done besides spread a lot of blame around, whereas if a television show doesn't hit certain markers you want then you don't give it another chance, even though most of it's written to leave open the possibility of a second chance, otherwise you may as well have made it a miniseries. Don't think I don't know that the irony is thick now that things like "Big Little Lies" are written as an intended limited run with a definitive ending and then get brought back. [laughs]
But then there's the other show you were a part of at that time, "Sherlock," that made short seasons and bottle episodes its real hallmark, it was more like a series of abbreviated films in the same canon.
The Sherlock Cinematic Universe?
[laughs] Of which The Woman was one of many episodic semi-villains.
I love a villain, but I don't think she's a villain. More of a self-interested foil to Sherlock. Not that he isn't also self-interested, but...
No I like that. And what a foil!
Here goes Elizabeth Alton, taking her clothes off again, she's really bunged it up this time making it pre-watershed. [laughs]
Wait, so explain that to me, because I was reading about this and there was a lot of controversy about the nudity and about making Irene Adler a real femme fatale.
So, we have the watershed hour at 9 in the evening in the UK, and you're not meant to broadcast adult content before it, but we complied with the rules and you don't see anything of mine that you shouldn't, we got quite clever with the angles and personally I think that added to the effectiveness of the scene, that you as the audience are seeing far less of her than Sherlock is but don't need to see it to know how it shocks him. I get that it was a bit of a breach of the spirit of the rules on our part, but maybe not worth such a fuss. But as for the characterization of Irene, I'm there to play a part, and frankly we're not the first and certainly not the last to take a one-off character of Arthur Conan Doyle's and make her the quintessential Sherlock love interest. When something's in the public domain, you get to play, and we're not saying our version is the new one by which everyone should abide, it was just our version. I think we still captured the biggest points from the original stories, namely that Sherlock is incensed by the idea of anyone being cruel to women, he cannot abide it. There are things about the original character that are deeply misogynist, maybe as a relic of the time they were written, but he's not cruel to women, which is someting you can't always say about fictional characters we're meant to find entertaining.
And that's actually a really good transition to what I think everyone knows you best for. Do you know what it was that first led you to cross the radar of David Fincher, which is obviously gonna bring us into the "Gone Girl" chapter in all of this. Was it one of those big movies, or the television, or...
Now, I don't know, I still don't, and I was really puzzled because I was sort of... I'd just gotten my first real title role, as it were, I was doing a film of Strindberg's "Miss Julie" with Liv Ullmann and Colin Farrell up in Castle Coole in Northern Ireland. And my agent rang me up and said that David Fincher wanted to Skype with me about this film "Gone Girl," and I didn't know much about the story, only that everyone and their mother was reading it, and that I'd read about Reese having the film rights to it. So I went out that weekend and got the book at this tiny bookshop in Belfast, and in turn got on Skype with Fincher, and we just fell into these brilliant conversations, he's such a smart guy and he asks really clever and quite strange questions, but it became clear quite quickly that this wasn't random, that he hadn't just seen my CV and thought I was interesting, that he had quite deliberately gone for me. And of course now that I know David I know he doesn't do anything randomly, it's all thought-out, there's no element of accident, but even then it sort of dawned on me through the course of these conversations that he wasn't testing me, he already thought I was really capable of this role and just wanted to see where my head was at and whether or not we were compatible in how we would go about it.
Should we just tell listeners that this is... if they haven't seen "Gone Girl," which they should, this is the central character, Amy Dunne, who goes missing on her fifth anniversary, which sets her husband up for some upleasantness as the suspect, and many, many big actresses were interested in this part. Just to name a few that were reported, Charlize Theron, Olivia Wilde, Natalie Portman, Abbie Cornish, Reese Witherspoon who of course as you mentioned was producing it. And he now comes reaching out to you.
And see I didn't know about any of that, it hadn't crossed my radar, but as we're having these conversations I'm reading the book and I immediately knew I had her in me. I knew I could do the many facets of Amy, the opacity of her, the duplicity. How on earth David Fincher knew that I'll never know, because it wasn't something I'd ever really shown anywhere but on stage, and even then not to this extent.
Right. You hadn't yet played this type of lead role in a film, barring what you were working on at that exact moment with "Miss Julie."
Exactly, and not only that but I'd never really had the chance to use that sort of sleight-of-hand quality that Amy has, that person who can look one way to one person and entirely different to another. And yet David figured it out, he has this sort of X-ray quality to him where he'll ask what seem like quite simple questions but he's really skillful at clocking you, you feel like they're far more penetrating questions than the words would suggest. He knew I could do it, and he told me later that part of it is that he couldn't get a handle on me, that he can usually put an actor into a category, or maybe two or three buckets of what's in their wheelhouse, but that he'd watched a lot of my work and liked it but couldn't really pin me down, and that he thought that quality is what he needed for Amy.
Yeah. So what was the process beyond that? It was just a few more Skype interactions or did you have to actually go see him face-to-face, or how did you—
Have you met David Fincher? [laughs]
[laughs] I'm assuming he doesn't do anything simply, right?
Well when we had that first conversation I hadn't finished the book, and so we sort of had our little book club going, he'd ask how far I'd got, when I got to critical junctures or good places to stop we'd chat again, until I'd finished it, at which point he said we should meet in person. So I just said, "well, where are you?" and he said he was in St. Louis scouting for the film, and if I could meet that weekend we should. And we literally wrapped that Friday on the film I was doing, and I went right to the airport with all of my things that I'd had for filming in Ireland, this massive suitcase, and I basically scrambled onto the only flight getting out of Belfast that night that would get me on to St. Louis via New York, I was crammed in the back row middle seat for the long leg because that was literally the only seat they had, and I just remember thinking that this better have been worth it because I thought... I mean, I didn't have an outsized idea of where my career was at the time, but I certainly thought I'd moved past those sorts of rushed train journeys to London from Oxford for an audition, fitting it in between the end of class one day and start of the next. But I did it, and I got to St. Louis and had this first dinner with David where we talked about the film and about Amy and about the transformation she undergoes in the audience's eyes and in her husband's, and the physical transformation as well, and he asked me if I was ready to really shed all vanity about it and I was like, are you fucking kidding, of course I'm ready, I'm a workhorse and I'm excited about stripping it all away and inhabiting this creature of a person, no bullshit, no soft focus to make me look pretty, just me and a camera and this crazy mind of hers. And of course it helped that he and I got on like a house on fire, I just found him really entertaining. And oddly enough, after that weekend I had to fly back to London to, of all things, do about a week on "Cinderella" directed by Ken Branagh.
Yeah, almost eerily so. But I got on this flight and as I'm on the tarmac arriving at Heathrow in London I check my email and there's this email from David Fincher that just says "for your eyes only," and he hadn't emailed me before then so I thought it was probaby important, and I sort of held it close to my chest so I could squint at it up close and it was the script for the film. And it was incredible because nobody knew about it, obviously my agent knew he'd asked for my information weeks and weeks ago but I didn't tell anybody about this trip, and so to be trusted with this script and the huge secret that came with it, while on the way to set with the person who had inspired my whole career, it was just... it was sort of mental. I almost couldn't comprehend all of it, of what an incredible opportunity this would be to work with someone I admired on the sort of character-driven thing I'd been craving. But that wasn't quite the end, we ended up having several more Skype calls to read through the script and talk about the material as written for a film rather than as a novel, and then he gathered together this little group for a read-through over a video conference, some of whom were the people ultimately in the film and others who were just friends of his who were available, and I remember pulling all the blinds on my flat and having this really isolated, clean experience with that because I wanted to be totally focused. And then I got the part.
Do you remember how you found that out? 'Cause that must have been a big moment.
I was actually having dinner with Ron Howard.
Talk about a name-drop!
[laughs] He's wonderful, we'd done "Frost/Nixon" a few years before and he wanted me to do this small part in the film he was doing about the story that inspired Moby-Dick, "In the Heart of the Sea," so we were having dinner just to catch up and we were going to be shooting my parts for the next few days. And we were at dinner but I happened to glance at my phone and there was a message from David just saying, "We've sent the offer."
Well it was great for it sounds like about a minute, and then you see there's also a message from his partner, producing and romantic, Céan Chaffin, that says, "We'll see you in a week." And that's pretty jarring.
[laughs] Yes, I sort of read it, probably wide-eyed and looking like somebody had died, and I just sort of looked up at Ron and said, "I can't tell you why, but you have to promise me this is only going to take the four days you say it's going to take."
[laughs] You put the spurs to Ron Howard?
I know, I know, it's like flatly declining a Bond film, I know. [laughs] But that was the start of... it. Of everything. Part of why they were so keen to see me so quickly is that we had to talk about my health, because I would have to gain and lose twelve pounds three times over because of the shooting schedule, on location and then on soundstages and out of order, and I'm not vain about that so I just said "yes, I'm prepared to do that" but just as quickly you think, "well how on earth am I going to pull that off?"
And they were prepared where I wasn't, so they got me to a nutritionist and to a trainer who's a boxer, actually, so she's well-versed in being extremely in tune with your weight and going up or down sort of as-needed, but as it turns out you can only trick your metabolism for like 72 hours before it rejects whatever you're trying to do.
Which was harder, gaining or losing?
They were both hard, making big changes that quickly without completely screwing yourself over is hard in either direction. Because when you're at the lower weight, your metabolism kicks into high gear when you start eating things to fatten you up, so I was just sort of... shoveling food in my mouth to convince it to gain. And then obviously, losing is hard. And as a woman you have to contend with hormones at different times of the month, which can make the losing especially much harder than it already is.
And you had to contend with an accent, too, so I assume there was vocal coaching.
Well it was two accents, really, because there's Amy and then there's Amy's impersonation of her assumed identity Nancy, so it was me doing a bad New Orleans accent while doing what was hopefully a good refined upper class New York one. And it's never just the accent, it's that person's particular tone and tics and David felt really strongly about drawing a comparison to Carolyn Bessette Kennedy for Amy, and so there was that, there was diving into the nature of—
Let's focus on the Carolyn thing for a second, because she was not somebody who we heard much from but was sort of seen as the icy blonde... sort of vaguely Hitchcockian and Bond girl type that you were worried about being seen as, as a woman who doesn't say much but is pretty – which of course isn't to say Carolyn didn't have substance, we all know she did, but visually it's there, and... I mean, how did you feel about going into that thing you'd tried to avoid?
I knew it was coming, because David had made it clear that that was part of his vision for her and I agreed, it made utter sense to me, and I think that part of the point is that Amy uses that trope to her advantage, to convince everyone of this version of her that's mild and beautiful and, of course, cool. That's Cool Girl Amy. Because as much as Carolyn wasn't someone we heard from, there was this totally undeniable chemistry she and her husband had that was charged and sexy and a radical departure from what you usually see from someone who gets pegged as an ice queen. And of course there was this incredible intrusiveness of the paparazzi that would photograph these rows between her and John, so you know they had a sort of volatility to their relationship and yet in public they were this incredibly glamorous, in love, perfect couple with this cipher of a woman who you could never really read. I love finding reference points like that, so much of my personal process is in sort of... being a nerd in a library, and reading up on anything I think might possibly be relevant or helpful or a point of reference, so the whole process of preparing for "Gone Girl" and all of these great anecdotes to draw from was like catnip for me, the whole experience was extraordinary.
I heard it described as "ten weeks of bootcamp," which I don't know if that means that's the period when you were doing all these things to get ready, but then a hundred days of production itself, at the beginning of which it sounds like you were physically not well but also a little nervous. How did you handle that?
I forgot I'd even said anything about that, you really do your research, Scott. [laughs] I had flown down to Missouri to start shooting and I was sick as a dog, I was really ill, and I think the producers very generously thought it was just nerves, but it wasn't, I was just so, so unwell. And I had to be up early for some prosthetic work, and the wig, and I think I'd already been sick two or three times and knew there was no use pretending I was well, and as it turns out we ended up reshooting what we did that day for a number of reasons, but I do remember lying awake the night before knowing I couldn't fake being well but that on top of how ill I was I was, also, nervous. I mean, who wouldn't be? You dream of something like this your whole life and know you're ready so you charge ahead but at a certain point it does actually hit you like a ton of bricks, I'd seen all of these people arriving the day before and it was the first time that I'd been on something of this scale as the first person on the call sheet. I felt immense responsibility for all of these people, for the process. And I thought, who can stave off my nerves?
And who did?
I had the presence of mind to email Daniel Craig, and was just a bit like... "help me." I didn't really care if he told me to suck it up or if he commiserated with me, I really didn't, I just wrote to him that I felt so at sea and knew he'd similarly been tossed in the deep end and expected to carry a film that matters so much to so many people without any prior knowledge of what that really means and entails. And it didn't hurt that he'd just done "Dragon Tattoo" with David and I felt like he'd know what to say to me in that moment specifically. And I went to sleep for maybe an hour or two and when I woke up it was proper early but I had this email back from him, bless him, just saying, "I get it, I've felt it, and you feel this way because you care, and that's a good thing." And he just ended by saying, "You're ready. I know you're ready, you've been ready for years. Go get 'em."
And then of course I also had a text from his wife, that I'm not going to share, but it was vulgar and it made me laugh and I really needed it.
Rachel Weisz, the thruline of big moments in your career.
I can think of far worse things than that!
So with them in your corner, were you really ready, in the sense that Fincher's going to come at you with dozens of takes of things that are... you know it sounds like, some people say they get let down by it.
I've always really liked that, there's no quicker way to make most actors fuck up than to say, "we have to get it in this take," at least for me. Which isn't to say you can't do it in one take, you absolutely can, not to make this all about Dan but you mentioned the shower scene in "Casino Royale" and we did that in one go, partly for logistical reasons, and I think we got it. But I'm also used to being in the theater where you're essentially having a different take every night, for weeks or months at a time. I went into this totally ready for some takes I'd never want to see, because I know there are performances I wish I could forget from the plays I've done, but also knowing that doing that much means you have a bit more flexibility to experiment. David spends his money on time, and I personally found it freeing, in a way.
How high did it get in terms of the count?
Easily thirty or forty on the master. And I know I took it as freedom to loosen up and try new things, but David's said to me that he really does it to trick you into not trying anymore, because the more you do it the more it becomes organic and the more likely it is to look human, which is such a fascinating way of looking at this job of playing pretend, of treating it more like a slow cooker than a microwave.
So that movie, if I remember correctly, opened the New York Film Festival, it was very highly anticipated, went over very well, that all happens. You know that people were responding to it on the festival circuit but then it comes to opening weekend, 'cause this movie's also expected to make some money and go over well in that sense, being adapted from a bestseller. What was opening weekend like for you to experience?
It was amazing. I don't get competitive, I'm used to making films that aren't commercially successful or even want to be, and so it's always been enough for me to feel like if there are no loose ends and no unfulfilled promises at the end and nothing crashes and burns then I consider it a feather in my cap and move on. But to be a part of the zeitgeist like that, to be a part of a film that adults were desperate to go and see opening weekend, which these days is sort of unheard of... My nephew couldn't get tickets! He was going to take a few of his friends to go and see it, friends who hadn't read the book, which, well, if you've read it or seen it then you know that it's particularly fun to see with someone who has no idea what's coming. And the shows at the cinema he usually goes to were sold out, he sent me a picture of the queue and said everyone was talking about it. The numbers kept rolling up, and up, and up. Reese called me at one point and was just silent on the other end of the line, I don't think even she had words for it. It's so exciting, it was like taking a drug. It was ecstasy. I didn't need it, but I liked it. [laughs]
I can only imagine. And then, you know, it just rolled on for the... for the next few months, because you were nominated for just about every award that there is, and I wonder— on the one hand, your movie had that effect where it catapults you to a certain regard that, you know, not many people get to have, and a stature in the business, but then there's also, you've talked about this in other interviews, there's sort of this sense that you did not immediately sign up for five other big movies. I wonder if that was... what was the thought process in your mind, strategically, coming off of "Gone Girl"? You did plenty of good ones since then, but there was the sense that maybe you were a little hesitant to sign up for something right after, is that fair?
The plan had always been that I was doing this play on Broadway, "Constellations," basically throughout the awards season, so you can imagine how much the producers were that mix of furious and happy for me when I had to take a day off here and there to go out to Los Angeles.
Your Broadway debut, and you were nominated for a Tony, at any rate.
Well [laughs] yeah, that helped. But I'd always planned to just get through that and then have a bit of time at home, and I'd been talking to Stephen Frears for months about taking part in "Florence Foster Jenkins" with Meryl Streep, so that was on the books already. And I have a lot of love for him and was really committed to that, so anything anybody wanted to rush into production shortly after the Oscars I said I couldn't take, because of that. And then Cannes came up, being on the jury, and so between that and the film I was already into the summer before I'd be available. I think it was also a time for us to work out our kinks, I signed with Jack Whigham at CAA in addition to Lindy, my UK agent, so I think it was a good thing that we took our time seeing how each of us responded to different things that came up. I did a couple of films that year, one of which sadly hasn't been released in a lot of markets, it had a couple of different titles but it was about Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi commander. But the other was "A United Kingdom" with David Oyelowo, who I love so dearly and I loved that story so much.
And it was an opportunity to work with another female director, which I know matters to you.
Yes, absolutely, and I actully just ran into her, Amma Asante, which is the wonderful thing about TIFF. But she and David are spectacular talents and great humans and spending the autumn in Botswana with the blessing of their president, our characters' son, was amazing.
And where in all of this was Del Toro and "Crimson Peak"?
Oh, uh, earlier. Much earlier. Just after "Gone Girl," I basically went right into it.
Yeah, it was a, uh... an interesting few months. [laughs]
And what drew you to that? Because it was yet another real departure for you, I'm starting to get why Fincher thought he couldn't peg you down.
It was all Guillermo, really. I am a massive fan of his and so when the opportunity came about to chat with him about anything I jumped. I do that a lot, I'll take meetings, even if there's no job on offer, because at the very least it'll be interesting, and if it's a dud entirely then there's nothing really lost there. But he told me about this project he was working on, and I totally latched on to it, there's so rarely a film where it comes down to the two women like that. And Ellery Leitch, bless her, I couldn't have asked for a better foe. Although when I told Guillermo I'd do it, I don't think I realized that it would just be the Year In Which Elizabeth Alton is a Sociopath.
Don't take this the wrong way, you make a great sociopath.
A lot of it's the writing. There are plenty of poorly-conceived sociopaths out there, I got some good ones.
It's interesting you mention that element of choice and weeding out the good sociopaths from the bad, because really the other thing you did... I mean, it was about a year after that awards season with "Gone Girl" but you started your own production company, which as I understand it is about to go into its first shoot?
We are, yeah, we start in the last week of September.
What was the thing that made you think, right, I'm going to take on this new facet of the filmmaking process?
Well I've always looked at my career as my business, I used to worry that maybe I was taking the fun out of it for myself by not letting my agents handle everything themselves, but the further along I got the more I realized that there's a lot that goes on that I don't think we as the on-camera talent realize or know about. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but for me it turned out to be a real positive, because I found it properly interesting and like something I might be good at. And I started chatting with Elise and Kelly, my business partners at various points, and we all felt that there was a lot we could do if we threw our hat in the ring, so we did.
Is the mandate, in your mind, making films you would want to be in? Elevating diverse talent, hiring more women...
I think our mandate was always that the content is king. It has to be good content. But we have the luxury, as a smaller organization, to take our time to find it, which means we're reading a lot more and we can, yes, focus on finding properties that represent more of what the world actually looks like and what people who aren't the white-heterosexual-male trifecta would craft. And it's been a mixed bag thus far, we've optioned some amazing work either by or about really interesting women, in particular, and we have a couple of bigger projects that either we created or were brought in on to shepherd along.
Because you did that huge deal at Cannes, right? For the spy movie... "355," yes?
We're really proud of that. That's one that was born of myself and Simon Kinberg chatting while we were doing "Dark Phoenix" last year, and we both really love those high-octane spy thrillers but there haven't really been any that focus on women that aren't also comedic, in some way. And the great thing about having the production company is that I don't have to ask, "will anybody make this?" because when he and I were having that conversation it's like... well, yes, WE can. You've got your producer and your director right there. And we knew if we found a great writer, which we did in Theresa Rebeck, if we could recruit some amazing women to do it with us, which we did... I mean, who doesn't want to work with Lupita right now? Everyone wants to work with her. Marion, Penelope, Bingbing, they're incredible. They took the guesswork out of it, because once we had them we knew we'd be able to make it. And that's why I take meetings with anybody, because you never know when you're going to want to phone up Marion Cotillard a few weeks before Cannes and say, "come in on this movie with me, we're all going to have a stake in it, will you be a part of it?"
That's amazing, and I remember seeing that and thinking wow, this is like... female Expendables but better.
[laughs] You're welcome.
And I don't want to bring it down again, but—
You can, it's okay, I know where this is going.
...okay, because I'm sure you don't want to get in the weeds about the Matthew Newton thing, but for... I mean, do you want to explain it or sort of bring me up to speed on it? Because you did have some movement on that this week.
Yeah. It's so goddamn trite to say that hindsight is 20/20, and all that, but— look. I made a mistake. We did, as a group of decision-makers at the table making those choices for what my company puts its name and resources behind. I don't want to say we were misled, because we weren't. We didn't do as much research as we should have, nor could we have. I'm not going to, to borrow your phrase, get in the weeds about that because in the end we know we fumbled, and fumbled hard, and unfortunately it's tougher to course-correct than a lot of people think. There was a legal process we had to go through to disentangle the web, and I'm not going to get into it because... I mean, obvious reasons, but there was a lot we had to do to make sure there weren't ripples from this that would impact the film further. And we're really, really excited for the film. That's what's going into production in a few weeks, and we have Tate Taylor directing who is fantastic, we have a great cast. And if there were some karmic retribution for our mistake that impacted the film down the line, I'd get it, but I would so hate to know I could have dotted my i's and crossed my t's and not allowed this person's behavior to tie us up more than it already had. But I'd so much rather live in a world where I'm held accountable by an industry and a public that know their concerns will be heard and are quick to speak the truth, than to live in what we had before this reckoning around harassment and assault took place last year. I think something we're all becoming better at enforcing is that actions need to have consequences, and that means you have to accept yours when it's your turn.
I hope it's not your turn for too long, I'm really excited about that movie, "Eve," right? And you're starring in it, as I think you're meant to do for a few in your production pipeline.
Well thank you for that, and yes, I'm doing this one, and I've got my name on a few of the others but that's not set in stone, in my mind. It feels strange to say this but my name can sometimes get the financing to come together, but everyone involved in all of those are aware that I may not end up being the face of it. That was never my intention with the production company, to just churn out projects for myself. Far from it.
But besides the producing side, you've done some great work since launching that in 2016. I mean, I saw "Disobedience" here at TIFF last year, and not to belabor the Rachel of it all but...
Oh please, belabor the Rachel of it all! [laughs] We've teased long enough, give the people what they want.
Well you two had played sisters in "A Streetcar Named Desire," as we said, and since she had the rights to "Disobedience" and brought the whole thing together did she call you straight away about it?
She and I had lunch as we not infrequently do if we're in the same place, and she just sort of passed me the book and said she was getting it up and running and would I want to do it, and I think I actually pushed the book back at her and said something along the lines of, "You could ask me to play a goose and I'd do it." But I did take the book home and read it, and I fell in love with the story like she did.
She was saying when you did your interviews here last year that in looking for stories to option with more than one great female part she ended up reading quite a bit of lesbian literature, which this was, and actually a lot of what you all ended up being praised for is the fact that it was a really feminine gaze-heavy film even though you had a male director.
We were really happy that people took notice of the care we tried to put in, at first we were worried that it was all water-cooler talk about spitting but it pretty quickly mellowed out into a really positive response to what we'd tried to do. We did get some criticism recently, actually, from some lawyers talking about nudity riders who said it was apparently quite obvious to them that in the love scene we kept our clothes on, and that that must mean we'd refused to do it, and it was actually quite the opposite. If you actually watch the film you know I've got my clothes off at another point, though it's a less titillating one. We didn't have clauses in there about not being naked, but as we were blocking it out and rehearsing with Sebastián Lelio, our director, the three of us were sort of acutely aware that it's not just about the physical attraction for these women. It's the soul, it's bone-deep, it's primal. And I think a part of us felt that they were so eager to touch each other that they wouldn't bother stripping down completely, nor did they need to, it felt excessive every time we played around with it. The only stage direction we had in the script was, "they make love." That was it. And so we did that.
And you were both so great, and Alessandro Nivola too.
Wasn't he? I think he had the hardest part, to not just be the cuckolded husband. That's hard. Everyone goes in there wanting me and Rachel to shag, so he had an uphill battle. [laughs]
...okay, so I was going to ask about "Annihilation" but we've been talking for a while and I don't think I have the brain power.
That's alright, just tell people to watch it.
Watch "Annihilation," everyone.
"Why on earth would you do that?"
So you were saying earlier that you like trying new things, and the more I was looking at this sort of... 2015 to 2017 bubble on your résumé, you've got a hell of a lot there, because there were all of those films I just mentioned, and launching your company, but there was also you did two plays, and you did "House of Cards."
I mean, starting at the end, how does that come up? Because you said it wasn't Kevin Spacey, was it Fincher?
Sort of. He hasn't got his hands in it day-to-day like in the first season, but I guess Beau Willimon, who wrote the show and was the showrunner for the first four seasons, he'd written this character in Hannah Conway who was the wife of Frank's opponent in the election, and he'd conceived her as being English and I guess he thought of me, and that I'd be good in that role of someone who's never going to be up to snuff with Claire and in whom you can see shades of that same ambition and loyalty but who you doubt has the capacity or drive to follow through to the same degree. And I guess he'd thought of me, so he got my phone number from David and rung me up and asked if I wanted to do it and could fit it in my schedule.
You have that one exchange with Robin Wright that's just...
It's vicious, right? The bit about regretting having children. I have goosebumps just thinking about being on the receiving end of Robin's delivery of that.
But while we're talking of vicious, both of the plays you did in the last few years really highlighted that about you, because you had Hedda Gabler, who is one of the notorious antiheroines of theatre, and then you have the Faye Dunaway part in "Network," who's ruthless.
I told you, I have the good fortune of having many well-written sociopaths come across my agents' desks.
Well-said. But you're not doing the Broadway transfer with Bryan Cranston, right?
Right. It was never going to work out, but according to my publicist they're announcing it today when we're recording this, so... I mean, this won't be exclusive by the time you post it, but it's exclusive to you right now, Tatiana Maslany is replacing me.
In everything you've ever done simultaneously?
[laughs] No, but she probably could, I think she's fantastic. But yeah, get ready, New York. The clone lady is coming and she's great.
Before we jump into why you're here today, I have to ask this sort of fanboy question, which is how the hell did you get lucky enough to be in the Jay-Z and Beyoncé video? "Family Feud."
Honestly, it happened so haphazardly. I had met Ava DuVernay at some event and she said that there was a small project she was going to do and it was a big ensemble sort of piece and would I be interested, and I obviously said yes, I'm going to jump at any chance to work with someone like Ava no matter what it is. And then I didn't hear from her for a while, and when I was doing X-Men in Montréal last fall, she sent me this sort of covert email telling me what it was in really brief terms, but I was in the midst of shooting this huge film so I knew it wasn't going to happen, and I said something about it to James McAvoy, who I knew wouldn't blab, and I just said that I was bummed about how it probably wouldn't work out, and I guess Simon our director was right behind us and overheard me and was like, "What are you bummed about?" And I told him, and he grabbed me by the shoulders and goes, "Alton, this is the most important job you will ever do, get out of here." So we worked in a day for me to be off the schedule, I flew to New York in the morning and back in the evening, and I got to be in the video.
It was. Simon's on my nice list for life.
Okay, so now I gotta know, how did my friend Matt Heineman convince you, an actress of this caliber, to work with him on his first narrative film? He'd made two great documentaries, "Cartel Land" which was nominated for an Oscar and "City of Ghosts" which should've been, but, I mean, I'm sure every first-time narrative filmmaker would love to work with you. How do you decide that this is the guy to to take the chance on?
I mean, the truth is, Scott, I felt like I had to get him to take a chance on me, not vice versa. He didn't need to convince me, I'd managed to see an early screening of "City of Ghosts" before it was released and I had heard, through Amma Asante actually, that there was this film being shopped around about Marie Colvin and that there was a good chance he'd be directing. And it's going to sound like such BS that it like... grabbed me? I sort of got chills. I'd admired her so much, and then I saw this film of his, and just the way he captured humanity, the human spirit, and also these layers of tragedy and violence and hope and hopelessness, it just... it really felt special. I knew I had to do it and I knew it'd be a hard sell, Marie was American, she's very rough around the edges, she was much older than me, she had a very specific physicality. I'm not the obvious choice, and I knew that, and I can imagine that someone doing this for the first time like Matt was might be put off by the idea of taking a chance on someone who's so against type, and I knew that if I did by chance convince him to let me do it that I'd then have to hold up my end of the bargain, and give him something to work with that felt documentarian and unvarnished and as realistic as possible. Because he captured these moments in his films that... like an actor wouldn't think to do any of this, even in take forty for Fincher I never would think of something like, do you remember that young man in "City of Ghosts," he's watching this video projected.
And it's his father being shot in a firing line by ISIS. And he's not crying, he has this immense self control, and he sort of puts his finger in his mouth and holds it there and then it comes out bloody, and he says that his teeth always bleed when he's angry. It's so heartbreaking in part because it's something so human, you don't script those things in a narrative film hardly ever. But we can all recognize those things in ourselves. That's part of why Matt's documentaries gripped me like they did, because it's so intimate and wrenching but ultimately so human, and it feels reductive to call it relatable but it is, in a way. You can understand these very human responses to abnormal circumstance. And I knew that if I was going to do this film, that's where I had to get to, I had to find some of that or I'd be wasting his time.
Wow. And this character seems so enigmatic in the sense that 99.9 percent of us, if there's a problem or there's danger, we run in the other direction. This woman ran towards it. Were you able to decipher clues from the script or her life or... I mean, what were the key ways that you could explain that to yourself?
In a way learning about her was also the technical preparation I needed to portray her, because Matt and I really had to become reporters, in a sense. We had to gain the trust of her friends, and go about it quite deliberately and diligently and candidly, so we could convince them of the fact that we weren't trying to sensationalize her death, we just wanted to tell a thorough and truthful story, we weren't Hollywood types coming in there looking to take advantage of her story for gain or attention, and I completely understand why they were hesitant. I would be. Marie died in 2012, so as we were preparing for this it had barely been five years, that's still such a small amount of time when it comes to grief, so for her loved ones the loss is incredibly recent and raw. I mean, my god, the conflict she died covering is still ongoing, in Syria, so there's that constant reminder. And the truth is that she was deeply committed to this idea that war isn't about the statistics we so often hear, it's about the civilians and institutions on the ground that are shattered when these big entities, be they governments or tribes or dictators clash. That's something that's so easy to portray as this noble cause, that someone who is that passionate about bearing witness to the human cost of war and exposing it and sharing the plight of civilians is almost a Don Quixote living in this noble quest without fear, a sort of crusader for the truth. And Marie wasn't that, she wasn't fearless, she did it precisely because she knew it was something worth fearing. Matt crafted this amazing portrait of someone who's addicted to danger, addicted to pursuing the truth, and is so committed to it that she suffered massively from PTSD that she had nowhere to put. Because how do you reconcile being the witness to pain that isn't yours? She took it so seriously to convey others' truths for the world to see, and couldn't really share how shattered she was by it.
Well as someone who's very fond of Matt I really wonder how he can't not be feeling some of that himself after we see what he lived through with "Cartel Land" being shot at, or "City of Ghosts," you know. Did you and he have any conversations about what is at the root of depicting PTSD?
We did. We did. We had to be tremendously trusting of one another from the start, because I was going to have be quite vulnerable in this role and Matt, obviously, was quite open with me about the fact that he was reckoning with this sort of insanity that's bred in him like it was in Marie, I think he felt a lot of kinship with her as I did, albeit in different ways. I mean, we talked a lot about this fallacy of being protected by your camera, which of course is a complete lie.
Matt was telling me that there's a sort of possession that comes over you when you're witnessing something that nobody else does, that the world outside of that place needs to see, that he'd got one lot of footage of a shootout and thought right, I need to go and get more of this, just as Marie was in Homs when everyone was telling her to get out but she knew there would be more she could capture if they went back in, went back to this clinic, and so on. I don't want to call it irrational because it's not, it's just sort of the... absence of rationality. We talked a lot about what PTSD looks like, because it's something he's been open about experiencing, it's something Paul Conroy, who Jamie plays in the film, something he shared with us. And it's something quite close to my heart, my dad as I mentioned is a military veteran, it's something I'm acutely aware of because of people in my orbit who've gone through that, both my dad and I do a lot of work with veterans when we can. So we all felt very strongly about not glamorizing it or fetishizing it, and we felt the best way was to just sort of... let me loose and do really long takes and get into it and see what worked and what didn't for these moments in the film. We had Bob Richardson, the amazing Bob Richardson as our DP.
One of the best, and quite often it'd just be me and Matt and Bob and the focus puller and sound, and we weren't shooting on film so we would just go for as long as we needed, and so I could go to these really dark places that I'd pieced together from speaking to Marie's friends and colleagues and reading her work and watching hours and hours of her interviews looking for moments where her facade cracks a bit. It's scary, because it's the burden of wanting to be honest as well as trying to live it. And that's the case for the whole film. I don't know if you've spoken to Matt, but with the whole movie, I mean, we filmed the warzone scenes in Jordan, and as part of his own preparation for making the movie there Matt spoke to every single actor we had as background and extras. There's a scene in the widows' basement in Homs, which was one of the big articles she filed there, about this basement where women and children were sheltering together without food, without water, babies were being fed sugar and water because their mothers weren't able to eat and thus weren't able to breastfeed. And when we got to that scene, that day of shooting, I enter this room and all of our actors were Syrian refugees who'd come to live in Jordan, in a way we... well, I, as Marie, but ultimately with Matt's guidance on interview technique, we were interviewing them for real. Their stories are all real. He felt that's what this requires, that it'd be inauthentic to make up some story cobbled together from off-camera interviews and give it to an actor, maybe in part because this conflict is ongoing right now as you and I are sitting here. And when we did the scenes at the clinic, Marie's final broadcast that went out on CNN literally hours before she was killed, the man playing the boy's father himself had a nephew who'd been shot by a sniper right off his shoulders. So while that scene was a recreation, his feelings were real, and he shared with us more and more of his story between takes and during set-ups, and all of us, really, couldn't bear it. And those were just a few days, a few moments, of sitting and listening while someone shares this immense trauma, so you can only imagine what people like Matt, like Marie to an even greater extent experienced doing this work for a living. So it felt particularly profound to try and honor her with this film that yes is narrative but also has a tremendous aspect of documentary to it.
Absolutely. Well, the last few things, if I may, I just want to ask you about one other aspect of playing Marie, because we see her in her non-working hours, I guess, in a way also, and the guy who's behind the camera in her life there was Jamie Dornan's character. And I thought it was pretty interesting and I wonder if you can talk about the, maybe the scene... maybe, I saw it as perhaps a microcosm of things, where there's clearly, it seems, some interest between the two here romantically, and... I think, I shouldn't say clearly, it seemed that way to me, and yet there's that one night were they're sitting there late at night and he eventually says, "I'm going to bed," and right after that she goes off and sleeps with a guy who she doesn't really even know, and I wonder if that was certainly not because she likes that guy more, but I wonder if it was a matter of just not wanting to make herself vulnerable in any way to anyone who she actually cares about, because she seemed to see herself as damaged goods in some way. I mean, it seems... maybe I'm over-analyzing that, but it just seemed like a moment that kinda said something about her.
The thing I learned about Marie is that she was a tremendous romantic, and you can see in her work that she has a huge capacity for love of all kinds, she was deeply compassionate and caring and tender, really, in ways you wouldn't expect looking at her. But she also had this capacity for self-sabotage, she certainly saw herself as damaged goods and... I mean, I didn't have her diaries at the time but I've since spoken to Lindsey Hilsum, who's a wonderful foreign correspondent who has a book about Marie coming out, and she had that material, and it really affirmed a lot of what I'd heard. But she was a woman of contradictions, she had some eating disorder problems, she loved food but desperately wanted to be thin, and she'd had some brushes with bulimia and then with smoking... I mean, something like forty cigarettes a day, she once said even the Iraqis said she smoked a lot. And so she knew she was damaged and full of these massive contradictions, and one of those was being this huge romantic and quite a sexual person but felt she was unlovable, she had these amazing love affairs but her marriages never worked out, the opportunity to use this huge heart of hers always eluded her, sadly. We tried to show that as much as we could without venturing into sex for its sake. I think with Paul, I really do feel it was a friendship and a partnership of the highest order. Paul was with us on set, actually, I think he only thought he'd come for a week or so to enlighten us a little and he ended up staying for pretty much the whole shoot, which is almost unheard of to have the person who lived so much of what we were recreating right there with us, and you can tell from the way he talks about Marie and their work that theirs was this incredibly trusting friendship, they went through so much together and had to rely heavily on one another, and that's its own form of intimacy which perhaps is why you get the sense that there might be something else there. But that relationship was probably one of the healthiest in her life, maybe precisely because it didn't involve sex, and Jamie and I felt a tremendous sense of responsibility to capture it honestly and fully, out of respect for that relationship that they had that ended so sadly.
We are here at Toronto, a place that I think helped to unveil some of the bigger moments of your career, whether it was... certainly we said "Pride and Prejudice" but I think also "Miss Julie" was here and "Disobedience," so in the spirit of reminiscing and looking back and all of these things, just in terms of the big picture, how do you feel about where things are right now? And this performance, in the pantheon of all these other ones we've talked about, and just sort of the outlook moving forward. It seems like a pretty major moment.
Well thank you, for saying that. I'm just really excited, I feel really free and open at the moment, because I've had these amazing deep dives like into Marie Colvin but I'm also... I dunno, more relaxed about it than I ever was, maybe it's being the age I am where I've stopped caring quite as much about presenting myself a certain way and now just trust that work will come or it won't but the arbiter ultimately is me. I get to do lots of different things, with lots of different and amazing directors and writers and other actors, and I'm still learning, which is what I love about what I do.
That's great, and I really appreciate you doing this, congratulations on the movie and thanks for making a few minutes for me here in Toronto.
[laughs] Just a few minutes of a not-at-all intimidating conversation.
Harper’s Bazaar, the world’s longest-established fashion magazine, has announced that Bazaar Summit will return this year with actress Elizabeth Alton CBE and model Arizona Muse confirmed as keynote speakers.
Bazaar Summit in partnership with UBS, is a day-long conference that brings together inspiring female leaders for a day of empowering talks, thought-provoking panel discussions, interactive workshops and unmissable networking opportunities. The event will be held at Sotheby’s, New Bond Street, London W1, on 15 November 2018.
Academy Award nominated Elizabeth Alton CBE will join the journalist and broadcaster Lindsey Hilsum to discuss A Private War and the legacy of legendary war correspondent Marie Colvin. Arizona Muse will share her thoughts on motherhood and making an impact, in conversation with Justine Picardie, Editor-in-Chief, Harper’s Bazaar.
Elizabeth Alton Debuts 'A Private War' at TIFF!|
Elizabeth Alton keeps it chic and sophisticated while hitting the red carpet at the world premiere of her latest film, the biopic A Private War, at Roy Thomson Hall on Friday (September 14) as part of the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Ontario.
The 36-year-old actress was accompanied at the event by director Matthew Heineman. Missing was her costar Jamie Dornan, who was represented instead by the man he portrays in the film, photojournalist Paul Conroy.
During the post-screening Q&A, Alton admitted that she had shrunk about half an inch in the process of portraying late war correspondent Marie Colvin, who kept her shoulders, "braced, in a way, which I suppose you would if you were conditioned to be ready for an attack at any time." Both she and Heineman, an Oscar-nominated documentarian, spoke about seeing the film as an homage to journalism "in an era when media is under attack."
But it was Conroy, Colvin's friend and photographer, who brought the English actress to tears when he said, "What El has done with... for Marie, you know, absolutely touched me to the heart."
Colvin, an American reporter for the British Sunday Times, died while reporting in Syria alongside Conroy in 2012.
A Private War will open in limited release on November 2.
FYI: Elizabeth is wearing an Elie Saab dress, Christian Louboutin shoes and Messika jewelry.
|blazing mind @fempatla · 1h
world war 3: elizabeth alton vs. all of the insane jamie dornan fans on instagram
|Scott Abrams @Sabes55 · 10h
Elizabeth Alton is great as Marie Colvin in A Private War, which nicely tackles the fine line between documenting war and voyeurism. War scenes are INTENSE. #TIFF
|lz @LipZee · 1d
if we do not get reviews saying a private war will get elizabeth alton her revenge oscar we RIOT
|elisha ︽✵︽ @avntmay · 2d
amy dunne didn’t shove a bottle up her cooch to be disrespected like this
|Mel @ms_melissaa · 4d
The devil works hard, but Elizabeth Alton works harder to convince us she didn't know about Kevin Spacey and Matthew Newton. Sit down, girl.
|Ina @barefootnontessa · 4d
We are all Elizabeth Alton not-at-all-lowkey fangirling over Rachel Weisz in that THR interview.