The first time moviegoers became aware of 26-year-old French actress Eva Green, it was due to her racy debut in Bernardo Bertolucci’s erotic drama “The Dreamers,” where she didn’t leave very much to the imagination. The breakout role probably helped get her a key role in Ridley Scott’s “Kingdom of Heaven,” a part that was greatly reduced by the time his Crusades epic hit theatres in a heavily edited form.
Other than that, Green hadn’t appeared in that many movies, so when she was cast in the high-profile role of Vesper Lynd, the very first Bond Girl and the one who had the greatest lasting effect on James Bond, in the new adaptation of Ian Fleming’s novel Casino Royale, there was a lot of controversy about the casting decision.
James Bond Hype! talked to Green about what it was like being a part of the James Bond circus, and having a bit of competition for Bond in ultra-hot Italian actress Catarina Murino.
James Bond Hype!: The casting for your role was such a media event with so many names being thrown out, from Angelina Jolie to Charlize Theron. Were you aware of all that?
Eva Green: I didn’t know about the Bond Girl thing. I was approached very quickly, boom, boom it happened. And everyone was like, “Oh my God!” So, after Angelina and Charlizeâ€¦youâ€¦whatever. (laughs) They are just bored I think, and afraid of change.
JBH!: You were up for the role long before you finally got the part, though, right?
Green: They asked me to come and audition a year and a half ago in London and I didn’t want to go, because the Bond Girl role is a bit dangerous for an actress, I’d say. I don’t know what happened, but they didn’t find Vesper, and they sent me the script, I went to Prague and did the screen test, and they were not completely happy of course. I was in New York and called me and asked me, “Can you please go to Prague straight away and do it again, because your English is not that perfect and blah, blah, blah.” I had to do a formal audition in costume on the set with Daniel. I had to sign a pre-contract beforehand and I got the part a week after, and then straight to the Bahamas. It was quite mad.
JBH!: Were you wondering whether they were wasting your time?
Green: Yeah, you always think, “Oh, they just want another actress, whatever.’” When I met Daniel and the producers the first time in Prague, they were really looking for somebody, and they were very interested, I would say. I could see that they were interested.
JBH!: You said it’s dangerous for an actress to take one of these Bond roles, so what made you decide to go there?
Green: I loved the fact that she was very funny and sassy in the beginning, very intelligent, very enigmatic, and that she evolved throughout the whole thing. She becomes a bit more vulnerable and she just blossomed. They were just nice colors for an actress. I didn’t see this as just another Bond girl.
JBH!: Were you a fan of the Bond franchise beforehand?
Green: Fan? No. (laughs) I mean, I always liked Bond, it was always on TV on Sunday night. I loved Sean Connery and it was always very entertaining.
JBH!: Were you familiar with Daniel Craig’s work before you were cast?
Green: Yeah, the first time I’d seen him was in “Sylvia,” then I saw “Enduring Love” and “Munich.” I haven’t seen “Layer Cake” yet. I’ve always liked him. He was very intimidating. When you see him onscreen, he’s always very intense and very much like a man.
JBH!: Was he at all like what you expected when you met him in person?
Green: No, actually. I was cast last minute, so I read the script–I liked the script very much–I flew to Prague, I did this audition, so I was really focused and stressed out. And he was there. He had a party the night before and he was very blonde like a Steve McQueen. He’s moving a lot in real life. He’s very nervous, like an animal, but he was very lovely, very patient and really connecting with me when we did the screen test. It was not like, “Oh, another actress, here we go.”
JBH!: Were you aware of the criticism that Daniel was receiving when he was cast as James Bond?
Green: It’s funny, because in the make-up trailer there are always lots of trashy magazines and it’s always quite pleasant to go through them in the morning. That’s when I realized, “Oh, my. It’s quite nasty.” There was a lot of pressure on him. He was quite nervous and paranoid sometimes, especially in the Bahamas in the beach. Lots of paparazzi. Even on me in Franceâ€¦ nasty things! Like I was going to get fired, I was so bad. I dunno. It’s a type of publicity I must say. I just laugh about it. It’s so ridiculous. And now, he’s so amazing in the movie.
JBH!: That scene between you and Daniel on the train seemed very off-the-cuff. The chemistry between the two of you on screen is pretty amazing.
Green: The screen test scene. I worked really hard on it, and it was quite tricky, because Martin Campbell wanted me to speak really fast. I was like, “How could you speak that fast and recover?” And it actually works. It’s like a mental poker game, and he kept saying, “Like Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, boom, boom, boom!”
JBH!: Did you and Daniel get a chance to do a lot of rehearsal beforehand?
Green: We did the screen test together, but with Daniel working very hard, we didn’t have a lot of time to really prepare. It was more instantaneous and instinctive. Yeah, in the morning I went to his trailer and if I wanted to make some changes there was sort of a go-between between me and the director. (laughs) No, no, it was good because Daniel is always like, “C’mon let’s go for it. Let’s fight for it!”
JBH!: It sounds like you got Daniel on your side with Martin Campbell. What didn’t you like about the character that you wanted to change?
Green: You know, it’s always from Bond’s vision, from Bond’s point-of-view. It’s not from my vision or point-of-view. I wanted to let the audience see that she was torn between things, that she felt guilty when she starts to fall in love with him. And it’s quite true, I think you need to see the movie several times to understand all that Lady Macbeth guilt, to show the ambiguity. Just little things I’m not sure you can see.
JBH!: Right, Vesper is one of the few girls that Bond really falls in love with, but she also is the reason he becomes such a misogynist later. Was that part of the appeal of playing her?
Green: Was it appealing to play the first Bond girl? (laughs) I like it, because she breaks his heart, but she has a big impact on his life and this is why he became the Bond we know. Y’know, he’s an *sshole. (laughs) It’s interesting, but I don’t know what they are going to do in the next Bond. I mean, what are they going to do? I know he’s going to try and take revenge or something, but we aren’t going backwards. We are not going to make all the Bonds again.
JBH!: Did you have to do anything in terms of training for the role or getting in shape?
Green: No. I mean, I don’t have a lot of action to do. You’re talking about the black dress that’s quite “booby”? (laughs)
JBH!: Were you jealous of Caterina Murino getting to shag James in the movie?
Green: (laughs) No, Caterina is great. Jealous, no? What do you want me to say to that?
JBH!: Caterina told us how nice Daniel was to break the ice before their sex scene. Did he do anything with you?
Green: He was very paternal. Very “Are you O.K.? Are you alright?” Very tactile and very sweet and nice. And you know, he’s also new. It’s quite scary to be part of this big machine at the beginning.
JBH!: Were there more love scenes between you and Daniel that were cut out of the movie?
Green: You’re kind of pervert, aren’t you? (laughs) No, we didn’t have any sex scenes. I mean it’s Bond so you’re not going to have hard R sex.
JBH!: How has it changed your take on acting to go from the indie world to making a blockbuster like this?
Green: I think the work is the same. It’s just different when you do all the publicity. It’s like another job. I remember the first time I did “The Dreamers” and I went to Venice. Quite a good amount of publicity. A lot of roundtables and TV and I was just not expecting that. I thought I was going to visit Venice, but no. When you do the action scenes on setâ€¦ BIGâ€¦ and the boys are so serious about their guns. But, it was fun. It was quite intimate most of the time, so it was okay.
JBH!: How hard was the underwater scene?
Green: I rehearsed it a lot underwater with a mouthpiece and not freaking out, because you can’t see a thing. It’s like being in a really bad nightmare. I’ve never seen somebody drown, but I really swallowed water and everything. But it was fine, because I really knew what exactly. It was like a choreography, I knew what I was doing. It was O.K. But people were like, “Omigod, how did she do it?” It was very emotional because when you breathe. I was crying underwater at one point. I was like, “Why? Why?” It was mad.
JBH!: Have you been wary of Hollywood after making Ridley Scott’s “Kingdom of Heaven” since so much of your part was cut out?
Green: That is the thing about the studios that is really hard. They are scared of things that are so dark. It was really painful to do the publicity and talk about it. It was not what I had done. It was more like a love interest and that’s it. But, I learned a lot from it. I realized, “Y’know what? This is just a movie. This is not your life.” And the movie exists now. And Ridley was really angry.
JBH!: Was he angry? He seemed to play that down at the time.
Green: He’s British, you know. (laughs) It was cut three weeks before the distribution. You can see that the editing in it is weird.
JBH!: Were you aware there was a longer cut?
Green: I did the dubbing for it and then I saw it quite recently actually. I knew he was going to release the long one, but it’s quite hard. It was really painful. I had my glass of red wine. It was fine. The whole movie makes more sense. It’s beautiful. All the characters are much deeper.
JBH!: At this point, are you having to decide between doing bigger movies or going back to the indie world? Or is it all about the scripts still?
Green: The good thing about this Bond thing I hope and pray is that I’ll have more opportunities. That roles will come up to me rather than going to the auditions and that kind of thing. But I still have a lot of things to prove. I haven’t shown all my talent.
JBH!: Is there a particular kind of role you’re trying to play in the future?
Green: I discovered recently Susanne Biers’ work. She’s Danish and she did those movies with Mads Mikkelsen. [Note: Mikkelsen plays Le Chiffre, the baddie of Casino Royale.] I have seen “Open Hearts” and “After the Wedding.” I saw them on the plane, because I didn’t know Mads’ work. And that’s the kind of thing I would love to do. It’s very independent and quite Danish and quite dark, but I think I need to do something like that now. Back home, everyone is like, “Oh yeah, you want to work in Hollywood in big blockbusters and make money.”
JBH!: Are you looking for more mature roles? You seemed very young when you made “The Dreamers.”
Green: I don’t know. I am older, but yes, kind of. Because in the movie when I was looking at stills in the trailer I was like, “Omigod, I look so young! They aren’t going to believe I am Vesper Lynd.”
JBH!: What’s next for you?
Green: I’m doing “His Dark Materials” [aka "The Golden Compass".] I play Serafina Pekkala, the witch.
JBH!: There had been some controversy over whether they were going to take the religious stuff out of the movie. Is it in the script?
Green: Yes, yes, absolutely, I hope the studio will be brave enough and keep the darkness. But yeah, the Majesterium, the church, is very present.
JBH!: And you are signed on to all of the movies?
Green: We are doing the first one, and if it works at the box office, we will do the other ones.
JBH!: Where are you filming the Northern stuff?
Green: London. It’s green screen.
How apropos. You can see Eva as Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, which opens on Friday, November 17.
Source: Edward Douglas