Eva Green has an indie sensibility in a big budget world. At the Casino Royale junket in New York City she wore a very concealing and shapeless black outfit, and a big skull ring, making her very different from fellow new Bond girl Caterino Murino, who showed up in a sexy and low cut dress. It isn’t that Green is prudish: her first big break was in Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers, where she bared all in the name of art. You just got the impression that she wanted to be taken seriously as an actress – especially considering how she responded to some of the dumber questions at the roundtable (one reporter – a female – asked her how she made her boobs look so big in a certain scene. Besides the fact that anyone who has seen The Dreamers knows that Green isn’t exactly flat-chested, how ridiculous is that question?).
She probably experienced some similarly dumb questions when promoting her first Hollywood movie, Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, a Crusades epic that Fox cut to shreds for the original release. But it wasn’t just the stupid junketeers who made that particular press tour tough; it was also the fact that her role in the truncated version is a shadow of the bigger part she has in the full director’s cut.
“It was really painful, especially to do the publicity and talk about it since [the part in the shorter cut] wasn’t really what I had done – it was a love interest, and that’s it,” she told me when I asked her about the film. “But I learned a lot from it. I realized, you know what, it’s just a movie, this is not your life.” Still, it was not easy to face the slashed version. “It was really painful. I had my glass of red wine.”
It probably took a little more than a glass of red wine to calm Ridley Scott down. “Ridley was really angry,” she said. “It was cut like three weeks before the distribution. You can see it, the editing’s weird.”
While Green blames the whole thing on the studio – “They’re scared of being too dark” – she said – it didn’t stop her from coming to Sony for the very major role of Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. Lynd is probably the most complex and interesting Bond girl in the series’ history, but it’s another role that could have been destroyed by heavy handed editing. “I’m like, ‘Will I be cut?’ But it’s just like, what can I do?”
Green’s next project is also with a big studio, New Line, where she’ll play the witch Serafina Pekkala in The Golden Compass, based on the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy. Daniel Craig’s in that one too, playing the small role (this time) of Lord Asriel. The film has had a hard time getting off the ground, and at one point it was thought that the book’s overt anti-organized religion slant would be kept out of the film (which would really render the whole story moot), but Green assured me all that good stuff will be in the film. “I hope the studio will be brave enough and keep the darkness. But yeah, the Magisterium, the Church, is very present.”
Unlike Lord of the Rings, which New Line filmed all at once, only the first book of His Dark Materials is being filmed right now. “If it works at the box office, we will do the other ones [back to back],” she explained.