Carrie-Anne Moss for “Suspect Zero”

She established herself in the Matrix trilogy, and now the lithe and beautiful Carrie Anne Moss takes on a different role in the uinique serial killer thriller Suspect Zero. Paul Fischer reports.

Question: Does the finished product resemble your experience on set?

Answer: I was pretty amazed by Elias’s – what he did with it visually. It was a surprise but also I tend to be surprised pretty much every movie that I make because when you’re an actor and you’re there and you’re doing your work, you don’t necessarily take into consideration all the stuff that- – the way they’re shooting things. So I was pretty surprised.

Question: What did you think when the director turned the camera upside down?

Answer: Didn’t notice. I guess I was like in my own thing.

Question: Do you believe in the nature of evil and that there might be a suspect zero out there?

Answer: I don’t really think like that, but I was more interested in the whole idea of remote viewing to be honest. That was truly the interest that I had about the film was the idea of remote viewing. I had seen a special on Oprah about a guy who had written a book about remote viewing just about a week before I received the script. So remote viewing is something that was on my mind and I was interested in that idea probably because it’s sort of psychic and spiritual in nature and I’m attracted to things like that.

Question: Did you try to learn or practice that?

Answer: I believe we all do have a little bit of that in us, definitely. I definitely think that in the reading that I’ve done that it’s a skill that can be developed.

Question: Was there more to the relationship that we’re not seeing in the film?

Answer: No. I think everything’s in there. It’s more of a backstory for us that we had on our own.

Question: Did you develop that more?

Answer: A little bit, but when you’re acting, you kind of have your own- – I could have a totally different story than Aaron has. I could have that. It’s not really that important, I think, as long as people have strong points of view. We talked a little bit about it. Definitely felt that we were definitely had had a relationship and were, I think, in love with one another and I think that my character, Fran Kulok, is able to separate her work from her life and he’s not. And so he’s a very dangerous guy for her to be in love with. But I think the love was definitely very strong and that was one of those situations where somebody that you love is just not right for you, but you still love them.

Question: How did you use your performance to distinguish the movie from other serial killer films?

Answer: I don’t really think like that. Because of what you do, you probably have to look at it like that. That’s sort of here [points to head]. As an actor, I think you kind of have to come from here [points to gut]. Here [head] is kind of boring and doesn’t work for me, so I didn’t think like that at all. I just had my journey as an actor and didn’t try to think of a way to do it different. I didn’t feel I- – she’s not like that for me. That’s what the producers do and what the writers do, but as an actor, you really want to respect and honor the script. You want to try to be in the moment and you also realize that you’re one part of a bigger picture and when they call action, you have your dance. And you try to do it right and sometimes you do and that’s just showbiz.

Question: Being open to psychic powers, was it hard to play the skeptical one?

Answer: I felt that her skepticism came mostly from her past with him. And from her protection of what she does for a living. I think that in order to do what she does for a living, you have to be able to very much detach from- – you have to play by the rules. I mean, she plays by the rules and he doesn’t play by the rules. Now, if I were really an FBI agent, I probably wouldn’t play by the rules. I mean, I’d have to break the rules. But that’s probably why I would never get that job, besides the fact that I’m too old and never went to college. Although I think I’d make a fantastic FBI agent and definitely would love to have been one.

Question: Did you go through any specific training?

Answer: I talked with a female FBI agent and a male FBI agent. And I’m very interested in that. I’m interested in what people do for a living and I’d love to know what you guys do. I think everyone has such an interesting journey and profession that they really commit to. Yeah, so I talked to people and I read and then ultimately, you know, it’s like when you play a doctor, you have to look like you can do it but you don’t actually go and do it. It’s not like you learn how to cut open somebody and go do surgery. You have to think of a human being and not play the idea of what that would look like. It’s a human being who does this for a living, but you meet people who are FBI agents and you wouldn’t go, “Oh my God, it’s an FBI agent.” Especially if they’re good.

Question: Did you learn to shoot a gun?

Answer: I’d learned a little bit about guns in The Matrix so I kinda know how to do that.

Question: What do you play in Mission: Impossible 3?

Answer: The girl. The woman.

Question: Do you know anything more?

Answer: Oh yeah, I’m just not supposed to really talk too much about the character, but I play the woman.

Question: Did you have meetings with Joe Carnahan before he left?

Answer: I sure did. I love Joe. He’s fantastic. I think he’s such a talented director and I can’t wait to work with him one day. He’s just amazing.

Question: How surprising was it when he left?

Answer: It was surprising, but things happen. Nothing is really that surprising in Hollywood I think. Just like in any job, I guess.

Question: Are you being offered the kind of roles you want?

Answer: I’m pretty thrilled by the jobs that I’m getting offered. I feel very lucky to have the career that I have. I mean, I get asked that question a lot because I tend to play strong characters and people just assume that I would want to play romantic comedies which I would love to do. It would be lovely to do it, but there are other women that do it so great and they maybe couldn’t do what I do, play the kind of characters that I play. Although I think that it would be interesting to see us all play all kinds of characters, it doesn’t always happen that way. And I don’t have any huge desire to show you all that I’m not tough and strong, that I’m all feminine and soft. That’s not a huge longing that I have because I know who I am. It’s my job. I remember being in acting class years ago and my acting teacher saying to me, “You know, you have an ability to play really” – This was way before The Matrix – “You have an ability to play really strong women, but you’re also very vulnerable. And so it’s a really interesting combination that not everyone has.” And I was like oh, maybe that’s my thing. Maybe I should work on that thing because if you work on everything- – and it was interesting when I kind of accepted that what I was good at wasn’t necessarily who I am as a person, because believe me, inside I’m Julia Roberts. But as an actor, I’m something different because of the way that I look and something about me is different. So I really kind of embraced who I was and how people saw me. Ever since I was quite young, people always thought I was very serious and maybe a little bitchy and all these little things that I’d be like why? I’m not like that at all. But people have an impression about people because of sometimes the way that they just come across, not necessarily who you are inside. So I feel pretty lucky that I am working at all. My God, especially with all of the reality television that’s going on right now. This business for actors is so hard. I just thank my lucky stars that I make a living as an actor, that I am able to do a job where I can have children and I can take breaks and it’s not like the be all end all for me to go out and prove that I can play everything.

Question: Did you have any trepidations taking part in another franchise?

Answer: Not really. I had said after The Matrix that I would never make an action film again. And then I got offered Mission: Impossible and I just had to say yes. It just felt like the right thing to do, so I think things sort of come your way and you make your choices. It’s very different than Trinity, so I can’t say that I did. I might’ve had a few moments where I was like, “What am I doing, doing another action film?” But life is interesting. Never say never.

Question: Why did you say never?

Answer: Because it’s so hard physically. It took me years to physically recover from The Matrix, truly. And I’d like to have my challenges be emotional as an actor. I love that. Make me go there. I’ve gone there physically. I’ve gone there big time. I’ve gone there in a way that most actors will never experience in terms of action. And at the same time, I enjoy it in a way that I didn’t realize that I enjoyed it. As hard as it is, because it’s hard to learn new things, because when you’re doing an action movie, there’s usually something that they’re doing that’s new. I had to learn to ride a motorcycle for The Matrix, I had to learn how to be on the wire. This time I’m learning some things that I can’t tell you what I’m learning because I’m not allowed to tell you anything. But I’m learning a couple things that I hadn’t learned before. The first few days, you’re like, “Oh, I hate this.” I hate not being good at something. I don’t do anything that I’m not good at right away. I’m not interested in learning how to play tennis because I’m not good at it, so I’m not going to learn it. I’ll just stick with things I do well. But to have to learn something that you’re not good at and go through that being terrible at it and feeling awkward and feeling like you have 20 fingers and dropping things, and then learning it is pretty great to get to the other side. But those few days and not doing too well with it are enough to make you just want to go home and cry.

Question: Do you have a new director yet, maybe J.J. Abrams?

Answer: Not that I’ve heard of, so I haven’t heard and just trusting that they will find somebody great.

Question: Do you have any regrets about doing Matrix?

Answer: Oh my God, no way. It was the greatest time of my life professionally. And personally, it was just the greatest time of my life. I love those brothers. I love Keanu and Laurence and Hugo Weaving and I loved playing Trinity. She was so much fun to play. Loved it. But it was hard.

Question: What do you expect from a director?

Answer: I don’t. I kind of really think it’s important to allow- – expectation is the worst thing I think. I like to feel safe with a director. I like to feel supported by them. I like somebody who tells me when I do it right, tells me when what I did didn’t work but they’re not too hard. I’m not somebody who thrives on dominating. That does not work for me. I like it a little gentler. I will jump through hoops for you if you make me feel like you think I’m great. I think we’re all like that. Some people like that kind of- – it’s like a trainer, physical trainer. I don’t need a physical trainer like “One more!” I need a physical trainer who’s like, “You’re doing fantastic.” I have a very strong sense of intensity about me. I don’t need anyone else to give me that. I just need someone else to say, “Here, here you go.” And “let’s do this dance and see what happens and let’s try it again.” I think the greatest thing about being an actor and having experience is that in the beginning, you have no confidence and so you’re so self-conscious and whereas now it’s like I don’t mind falling on my face and figuring it out. I’ll learn from it. I’m not embarrassed. Or if you don’t like what I do, that’s okay. I’ve learned something in that dance that will help me next time. I kind of like to look at life like that. Otherwise I just don’t think I could do what I do. It’s just too painful. The actor’s journey is very brutal if you have that. It’s just not a nice way to live.

Question: What’s been your most memorable dance so far, your favorite role?

Answer: Well, I’m so proud of The Matrix and I’m so proud of playing Trinity, I love that. And I loved making Memento as well. That was really an incredible journey for me as an actor. I loved Suspect Zero because not so much about my- – because my role is a small role and I’m a supporting character, but I was really thrilled- – I was really thrilled to be there to be with Aaron to execute his journey. I felt it was about him. And the director, having his vision. I felt like I wanted to- – Elias had told me that he really wanted me in this movie and I had just finished The Matrix and I really wasn’t feeling like working, but I wanted to give him what he wanted. It was weird, like on the phone talking to him, and I off the phone and I was like, “As much I had said I wasn’t going to work right now–” because I literally left Australia and went and worked on it, I really wanted to execute his vision. And somehow I was in his vision for this film. And then it really became about me supporting Aaron’s journey, his character’s journey. It never felt like it was about me and what I wanted to do because it’s not that kind of part. I was really there to support.