Carey Mulligan: The Brit It Girl
She’s been lying low since the Oscars, living in New York, thinking about her next film. Now Carey Mulligan is back with an Oliver Stone movie and a Kazuo Ishiguro adaptation. But she’s still searching for that perfect role, she tells Dave Calhoun
‘Oh yes, I haven’t shot anything since “Wall Steet” last autumn. All of the awards season stuff went on until March this year, and it was impossible to work. Then when it came to scripts I couldn’t find anything different enough from stuff I’d already done.’
A chance to take a breather, then?
‘God, yes, I’ve literally done nothing.’
Did you take advice from anyone on how to handle all the Oscar fuss?
‘Yeah, kind of, there’s a gang of people I went through it with. I stuck with Colin Firth and his wife a lot. Whenever I went to a do, he was there and I’d stick with him and his family. That always felt comfy and easy. He doesn’t let it go to his head.
‘Then, when it came to deciding what my next film should be, I remember my agent saying to me that you should only ever take parts that you can’t bear the idea of anyone else doing. I was looking at stuff and thinking: I wouldn’t mind if someone else did this. There was nothing that was so exciting that I couldn’t say no.’
The new ‘Wall Street’ film opens next week. Oliver Stone must have cast you in that before ‘An Education’ became a hit?
‘Yes, I think he got a screener and saw it over last summer.’
You play Winnie Gekko, daughter of Gordon Gekko and morally at the opposite end of the dial from him. DId he say why he chose you?
‘No, I was kind of scared because I thought the character in “Wall Street” wasn’t similar at all to what I was doing in “An Education”, and I think that’s the only film he’s ever seen me in. I came out and met Shia LaBeouf and Michael Douglas and did a read-through. It was scary as I’d never been offered something without an audition. I didn’t feel like I’d proved myself.’
Stone says he thought a British actress would stress how outside corporate culture Winnie Gekko is.
‘Oh, he never said any of that to me. He was always trying to make me more American: “Go to a baseball game, you need to be more American.” He wanted me to watch football games and eat hot dogs. He said it a couple of times: “Don’t be so English,” meaning my sensibility, I think, not my accent.
‘He was very insightful and calm, which I wasn’t expecting. I think I expected a chaotic set and a manic American. I’d never done a big American film; I’d done tiny roles in Michael Mann and Jim Sheridan films, so I was expecting something crazy. But it was the same, just slightly larger and I had a trailer for the first time.’
Another film you shot last year, ‘Never Let Me Go’, an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s book, is opening the London Film Festival.
‘Yeah, I’m coming back over to London for the opening next month.’
Did you have much contact with Ishiguro himself?
‘He came into rehearsals for a day and we bombarded him with questions. But I think the film’s writer, Alex Garland, and him have been friends for about 15 years, so he felt he could just let it go. He visited the set once, I think.’
You play Kathy, the book’s narrator.
‘I wanted to play Kathy because she’s so far from other characters I’ve played. Most of them have been emotionally articulate and expressive, and she isn’t. She’s an observer, she defers to other people’s emotions and lets other people speak. In the script she had the least dialogue of all three main characters and so I wanted to see if I could make a character like that engaging and not passive.’
So have you chosen your next film yet?
‘I’m doing “Drive” with the Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, and that’s shooting here in the US in about a week. That was mainly because I wanted to work with Refn. I loved “Bronson”, I loved “Valhalla Rising” and the “Pusher” trilogy.
‘I’m playing a single mother whose husband has been in jail and she comes across Ryan Gosling, who takes it on himself to rescue her. The character was a late-twenties Latino woman at first, so we’ve rewritten a lot. It’s been good to sit around with a writer. I’ve never been able to do that before.’
Are you still doing an adaptation of Ian McEwan’s book ‘On Chesil Beach’ with Sam Mendes?
‘Definitely. We didn’t have enough time this summer. There wouldn’t have been any leaves left on the trees by the time we started, and Sam wanted to do it a certain way. It should happen next year, I hope.’
Any plans for theatre?
‘I’m hoping to do “Through a Glass Darkly”, which Ruth Wilson just did at the Almeida in London. They’re bringing it to Broadway. Hopefully, that’s my plan for the spring.’
And is there a perfect film role you’re still on the lookout for?
‘Well, in “Drive” I’m playing someone quite different from before, but I’d still like to do something in which I’m completely unrecognisable.’
Read our reviews of ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’ and ‘Never Let Me Go’
Author: Interview: Dave Calhoun
Director Tom Hooper and his cast tell us how they turned the super-musical into movie blockbuster.
The Time Out film team weighs in on the nominees for the 2013 Academy Awards
Get ready for the big guns… Spielberg, Tarantino and Bigelow
Daniel Craig’s 007 comeback, a genius indie romcom and all the mysteries behind ‘The Shining’ unravelled.
The results of our study on the state of films and filmgoing in 2012.
Read 'Time Out film debate 2012 highlights'
'The Hobbit' actor tells us why he wouldn't have a pint with Bilbo Baggins.
Dave Calhoun speaks to the director of 'Skyfall' about the latest film in the Bond franchise.
The genre-hopping director tells us how he invented a new genre with 'Life of Pi'
The twice Palme d'Or-winning director discusses 'Amour'.
Read our interview with Michael Haneke
The Danish director talks about his powerful new drama 'The Hunt'.
Read our interview with Thomas Vinterberg'
Time Out looks back at the impact of the 'Twilight' saga.
Discover what 'Twilight' has done for us
Time Out heads to the Lake District to visit director Ben Wheatley on set.
Read about our visit to the 'Sightseers' set
The director talks about 'Frankenweenie', which he describes as 'the ultimate memory piece'.
Read our interview with Tim burton
Our pick of the best films showing over the festive period.
Read 'The top ten Christmas films of 2012'
Mean Girls? Dirty Dancing? Tell us your favourite film guilty pleasure.
Read 'Film guilty pleasures'
What will Disney do to 'Star Wars'?
Read about the new 'Star Wars' trilogy
Ten young actors come of age on the silver screen.
Read 'When teen stars turn serious'
From Connery to Craig, we revisit all 22 Bond films.
Read '50 years of James Bond'
The director talks Scientology and working with Joaquin Phoenix.
Read the interview
Ten funny horror movies which went spectacularly off the rails.
Read 'Hilarious horror films'
The director talks psychopaths and theatre – 'my least favourite artform'.
Read the interview
We round-up the five best horror movies of Autumn 2012.
Read about this Autumn's best horror movies
Time Out visits Istanbul to see the latest Bond movie being made.
Read 'On the set of Skyfall'
Does Skyfall refresh or rehash the James Bond franchise?
The British director explains why 'Ginger and Rosa' is her most mainstream film yet.
'I’m almost as in demand as Brad Pitt’