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My Life in Movies: Emily Mortimer

‘The Bookshop’ and ‘Shutter Island’ star on why she loves smoky cinemas and shooting outside Buck House

By David Hughes
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What was the first film you saw in London?
‘My mum took me and one of my best friends to see “Grease” when I was about seven. We both had the album, and I remembered she fucked up the cover of hers, and forced me to swap it for her one. I’m still slightly irate about this.’

What’s your favourite London cinema?
‘It used to be The Coronet in Notting Hill [now the Print Room theatre]. You could smoke on the balcony. I felt psyched going to that cinema.’

What’s your most memorable West End premiere?
‘I was determined to go to the premiere of “Young Adam” [in 2003], even though I was about three days from dropping my first kid. They put me in this sugar-plum fairy outfit that made me look like a man doing Cher in drag. I remember Ewan McGregor looking at me in abject horror.’

What’s the first London location you remember filming at?
‘It was Stephen Fry’s “Bright Young Things” at Somerset House – a big party scene with lots of angels and 1930s costumes. It de-sanctifies a place when you’re smoking fags and putting them out in coffee cups.’

‘I turned up to the premiere of “Young Adam” looking like
a man doing Cher in drag’

What’s been your favourite London location?
‘We’re not allowed to talk about Woody Allen anymore, but it was pretty cool shooting at the Royal Opera House on “Match Point”. We shot some exteriors for “Mary Poppins Returns” outside Buckingham Palace too. My trailer was on The Mall, so that was pretty fucking amazing.’

What films would you say sum up London?
‘My husband, Alessandro Nivola, has just made a film with Sebastián Lelio called “Disobedience” which is set in Hendon’s Orthodox [Jewish] community. I fucking love London, but you don’t often see the grey of it in a way this film captures. Sometimes it’s people who aren’t from the city who capture it best.’ 

‘The Bookshop’ is out on Fri Jun 29.

The Bookshop review

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