Eva Green: “I Am Who I Am”

© ELLEN VON UNWERTH
Eva “screams” every time she returns to the big screen and finishes her act on “I wish to make this dream come true. The city fills me with anxiety. I probably HAVE to make this dream come true!”
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Eva Green with her deep blue eyes, dark French beauty and hermetically sealed character has never been a typical actress, although her CV has it all: she made an unforgettable debut in Bernardo Bertolucci’s highly sexual and atmospheric film The Dreamers . She gave an iconic Bond girl performance – the role of Vesper Lynd in 2006’s Casino Royale is considered as important to the new era of James Bond as the appearance of Daniel Craig himself. She has appeared in campaigns for the biggest fashion and beauty brands – this year she stars in Alexander McQueen’s. And yet however commercial or professional it may become, it may always remain this dark and temperamental creature. 

This year she enters our lives as Milady Fatal in The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan . An iconic film and a classic role, in a version that “has nothing cliché and nothing kitsch” as she told me, stressing that the Milady she plays “has dark aspects and is human”. On this occasion I spoke to her and found that no matter how many interviews she has given, she is still a bit awkward when talking to a stranger – in this case me. After almost every question he sighed and it took a few seconds before he found the right words to answer honestly and at a distance. I appreciated her both for her honesty and her distance – because she was honest too.

One of the things we know about you is that you don’t like giving interviews. That you consider them a necessary evil of your work. So I guess you’re not too happy to hear me.

I like to give interviews when I have something to say about a new job, when there is a reason. What I don’t really like is talking about myself. When I first started doing this job, it’s true that I really struggled with interviews. I felt vulnerable just at the idea of ​​them. But I survived, I got used to it and now I consider it part of my job. 

© ELLEN VON UNWERTH

I read that you were so shy as a child that your mother took you to a psychologist to help you. How much has this trait of yours evolved over the years?

Yes, it’s a paradox too, being a famous actress in the body of a once shy girl. It was a big deal for me, indeed. At school especially, when the teacher stood me up or addressed me, I experienced it as something terribly painful. I was blocking, putting up a wall and unable to articulate a conversation. That’s why I had to seek help from an expert. I only felt better when I entered drama school and started playing other characters. I felt alive and free. But I’m still very shy – it’s a part of me that I now embrace and accept, I’ve stopped seeing it as a problem. It’s just me. 

© ELLEN VON UNWERTH

I’m thinking of your role in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Dreamers . It was a bold performance and it was 2003, at your start. 

Actually, it was my first movie and I was naked for most of it! It was not an easy thing for me, but I have to tell you that until now, after all these years, it remains my favorite job. There was so much love and joy in this set. On the weekends we would meet with Bernardo and he would tell us incredible stories from the ’60s and ’70s, the era in which the film was set. When filming was over, it was like we stepped out of a wonderful bubble and we all had a hard time coming back to reality. I was still very shy then, but I didn’t think about what I was doing, I didn’t distance myself from my role to feel uncomfortable. I remember at the Venice Film Festival giving interviews, journalists asking me about the nude scenes and wondering why they were pointing it out to me. It was, however, a very beautiful experience. 

© ELLEN VON UNWERTH

Your roles in general have something enigmatic and always a particularly feminine quality. 

I like characters that you can’t figure out from the start. The twists, cracks, secrets, and anything that isn’t obvious is interesting. I like faces that have many facets, both tough and vulnerable.

Is the same true in life?

Do you mean if I have many aspects in my life? Yes, I am a particularly complicated person. (Pause) I don’t know what else to say about that. 

If you could for one day step into the shoes of a role you have played, who would you choose?

Let me think about it for a moment. The first one that comes to mind is a character who wasn’t tortured much. I would choose Isabelle from the movie Dreamers . Anyway, she was a free woman.

Milady, the role you play in The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan , is a classic example of a femme fatale. Tell me a little about her.

On the one hand, it was an honor to play such an iconic role. Then when I read the script, I was drawn to the fact that we hadn’t seen a human version of Milady before. In this particular film, which has nothing clichéd or kitsch, Milady is a woman with flesh and bones and many weaknesses, who is driven to be cunning. For me that was the key to this job: that I’m not just playing another femme fatale. It was a different case. 

Since you mention it, what are the characteristics of a femme fatale? Do you have these?

Yes, I am a femme fatale! I want to hurt any man who comes near me! I am joking. I’m definitely not the femme fatale type. It’s ironic that I may have played many such roles, but in reality I don’t even come close. I wish I was this strong, “armed” and confident woman, but that’s okay, I am who I am. I don’t even know what the characteristics of a femme fatale are. I can only answer by thinking through the cinema. The most “fatal” role I’ve played was Ava Lord in Sin City . A woman for whom men literally died, while she herself had no guilt, she had nothing human in her. I prefer the idea of ​​a 40s femme fatale like Lauren Bacall. In any case, I find that there is no interest and no charm in a character without emotion – in life and in cinema. 

© ELLEN VON UNWERTH

We’ve seen you from Bond girl to Tim Burton’s muse. What do you think about when you take stock?

I always feel insecure about the future. Every time I complete a job, I fear that I may never have the chance to work again. I just think that I want to play diverse characters and not repeat myself. I generally don’t take anything for granted, which is kind of painful for me, but at least it keeps me excited. 

Is there a collaboration you’ve dreamed of for the future?

I would love to work with Jane Campion. I met her years ago and I really liked her energy. But I let god decide what’s next.

Do you believe in god?

I believe in something higher and I think we should all be humble because there is so much we don’t know. Of course there is something bigger than us, but I don’t know if it’s called god.

What do you think about the actors’ strike in Hollywood?

I fully support the Screen Actors Guild and I’m glad because it looks like a deal is very close to being signed. It may be that by the time this interview goes to print, the issue will be closed. It’s just important that everyone is happy and on terms so we can finally move forward together. 

Why do you think the situation has reached this point? 

There have been many and sudden changes in the world of television and film. The digital transition was one of them. The strikes are a last-ditch appeal that says “please help us meet the new age.” The old partnership model was not working in the new, digital world. I hope the studios and streaming services will come up with a deal that protects everyone and ensures a better future. In addition, the cost of living crisis means that basic pay must also increase, which must follow inflation. Plus there are valid concerns about the role artificial intelligence will play in our industry and whether it will put people out of work. I believe that with calm dialogue and mutual respect everything can go well. The screenwriters have already reached an agreement. The actors are also approaching. 

© ELLEN VON UNWERTH

What do you think is cinema’s greatest gift to mankind?

Cinema can tell a story in the most brilliant and vivid way. It has the help of the image, the script, the music, the action. It is a combination that touches almost all the senses. Then there’s that universality… The same movie can be seen by anyone from anywhere on the planet. Each separately and all together. Personally, for these reasons I love cinema and consider it the king of the arts. A story told and seen for what it’s worth can help us better understand who we are and what matters in life. So, I conclude that cinema’s gift is to show love and compassion to the world, while at the same time providing entertainment and enjoyment!  

What else do you like to do besides being an actor? How do you spend the periods when you are not working?

I like to travel, hike, read. But mainly to travel. This year I also visited Greece. I went to Thessaloniki and I can say that I really liked this gastronomic city. Its sunsets and its delicious food… Then I visited the Peloponnese. 

We saw some photos of you during your visit to Costa Navarino, with puppies looking for a home. You were photographed to encourage their adoption. 

That’s exactly how it happened. There was a very worthy animal shelter there and I wanted to support it. I wish I could adopt more dogs myself. It crossed my mind… I was very impressed by the care for stray dogs in Greece. You spay them, feed them, and most are healthy, if a little wild. The relationship with animals is truly selfless and this has something therapeutic for humans. I think everyone should have a dog. We live in a world full of stress and dogs offer love without expecting anything, without putting conditions and restrictions.

Describe the perfect relationship.

Yes it is. I feel gratitude for the love I share with my dogs.

© ELLEN VON UNWERTH

This year you also star in the Alexander McQueen campaign and we saw a great photoshoot of you by David Sims. Tell me a little about this collaboration.

I’ve always been the McQueen kind of woman. I love this unique punk rock style that is both classic and timeless. There is something fragile as well as dynamic about McQueen. Before any premiere or official appearance I always ask them to check out his collection. I love his accentuated shoulders and dresses that have something poetic about them. The artistic director of the house, Sarah Burton, is a wonderful woman, humble and bold at the same time. So I feel very happy that this year I participated in this campaign.

How would you describe your personal style?  

I care a lot about comfort. In my everyday life I wear black leggings and a T-shirt, so when I have red carpet appearances I want to follow the dress code, but not feel different. I’m interested in looks that have something authentic, that aren’t pretending. Apart from McQueen, I also like Balmain, which also emphasizes the shoulders, Alexandre Vauthier, Yamamoto which is contemporary and avant-garde. In general, I have a preference for designers who, through their creations, want to offer dynamism to women. 

How do you see yourself in twenty years?

On a farm with many animals and a vegetable garden where I will grow my vegetables. In a “bubble” of protection next to nature, my own bubble. I wish to make this dream come true. The city fills me with anxiety. I probably HAVE to make this dream come true!

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