26-year-old French actress/composer Eva Green rose to fame in her feature film debut, Bernardo Bertolucci’s NC-17-rated film “The Dreamers” in 2003. The actress scored rave reviews for not just her performance, but her bravuara in baring all for the sexually explicit scenes throughout the film. Surprisingly she also scored the entire film as well.
Two years later, she crossed over into American films with Ridley Scott’s big budget Crusades-era epic “Kingdom of Heaven” as a love interest for British pretty boy Orlando Bloom. She’s a gorgeous women of strong will with expressive eyes and fierce intelligence, and decidedly feminine.
Now she hops in as the love interest of another British thesp, this time the older, more rugged and more trained Daniel Craig in “Casino Royale”. Based on the first of Ian Fleming’s novels about James Bond, the film takes 007 back to his dark, brutal spy roots as a killer and agent learning the ropes.
Armed not just with the baggage of being a Bond girl, Green takes on the role of Vesper Lynd, the most important ‘Bond girl’ of them all in the books. Vesper is the one that will change Bond’s life forever and turns him into the man we have come to know. Green recently sat down with select press in New York to talk about this daunting task.
Question: Were you familiar with Daniel’s earlier work before being cast?
Green: 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. When you see him onscreen he’s always very intense and still, very much like a man.
Question: Were you aware of the criticism that Daniel was receiving?
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, especially in the Bahamas on the beach, lots of paparazzi. Even on me in France – nasty things! Like I was going to get fired, I was so bad. 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.
Question: Did you sense a chemistry with Daniel during auditions?
Green: No, I was cast last minute. They asked me to fly to Prague. I liked the script very much. I flew to Prague and did a bit of an audition. I was really focused and stressed out. And he was there. He was very, very blonde, like a Steve McQueen. He’s moving a lot in real life. He’s quite nervous. He was very lovely, very patient, and really connecting with me when we did the screen test.
Question: So you were a last minute addition?
Green: They asked me to come and audition a year and a half ago in London. I didn’t want to because the Bond girl role is kind of dangerous for an actress. I don’t know what happened, but they didn’t find Vesper and they sent me the script. Then I went to Prague and did the screen test. They were not completely happy of course. I was in New York and called me do it again, because your English is not that perfect. There is always like a pretext and I had to do a formal audition in costume on the set with Daniel. I had to sign a pre-contract beforehand and got the part a week after; then straight to the Bahamas. It was quite mad.
Question: Did you think they were wasting your time with the auditions?
Green: When I met Daniel and the producers the first time in Prague, they were really looking for somebody and they were very interested. I could see they were interested.
Question: The casting was such a media event. Did you detach yourself from the process?
Green: I didn’t know. I didn’t know about the Bond girl thing. I was approached very quickly, boom, boom, boom, it happened. So, you know after Angelina and Charlize…you…whatever. (laughs)
Question: You mentioned that it is kind of dangerous for an actress to be a Bond girl. Why?
Green: I loved the fact that it was very funny and sassy in the beginning. She evolved throughout the whole thing. She becomes a bit more vulnerable and just blossoms. They were just my colors for an actress. I didn’t see this as just another Bond girl.
Question: Were you a fan of the Bond franchise beforehand?
Green: Fan? No. I mean, I always liked Bond. It was always on TV on Sunday night. I liked Sean Connery and it was very entertaining.
Question: What’s it like going from Indie films to being in a blockbuster?
Green: I think the work is the same. It’s just a difference when you do all the publicity. It’s like another job. I remember the first time I did “The Dreamers”. I went to Venice; quite a good amount of publicity, a lot of roundtables and TV. I was just not expecting that. I thought I was going to visit Venice, but actually no.
Question: You have great chemistry with Daniel in the film. Was there a lot of rehearsal?
Green: We didn’t have a lot of time to really prepare. It was more instantaneous and instinctive. In the morning I went to his trailer and if I wanted to make some changes there was sort of a go between me and the director. It was good because Daniel is always like, “C’mon let’s go for it. Let’s fight for it!”
Question: 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: It’s always from Bond’s vision, from Bond’s point-of-view. It’s not from my vision, my 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. I think you need to see the movie several times to understand all that Lady Macbeth guilt.
Question: She becomes one of the few girls he falls in love with, and then he becomes sort of a misogynist later on?
Green: 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. He’s an asshole. (laughs) It’s interesting, but I don’t know what they are going to do in the next Bond. I know he’s going to try and take revenge or something, but we are going backwards. We are not going to make all the Bonds again.
Question: Did you have to do anything in terms of training for the role?
Green: No. I don’t have a lot of action to do.
Question: 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. It was like choreography. It was very emotional. I was crying underwater at one point.
Question: Your first big Hollywood movie was “Kingdom of Heaven”. Did that make you wary of Hollywood? It was so different from the release and director’s cut.
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 but, I learned a lot from it. I realized this is just a movie. This is not your life.
Question: What’s “Casino Royale” going to do for your career?
Green: The good thing about this Bond thing, that I hope and pray, is that I’ll have more opportunities. That roles will come up to me rather than going to the auditions. But I still have a lot of things to prove. I haven’t, I think, shown all my talent.
Question: What’s next for you?
Green: I’m doing “The Dark Materials”. I play Serafina Pekkala, the witch.
Question: There had been some controversy over whether they were going to take the church business out. Is it in the script?
Green: Absolutely, I hope the studios will be brave enough and keep the darkness. But yes, the magic theory of the church is very present.
Question: Are you 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.