Sienna Miller Interviewed About "Interview"
(From brinkzine.com 7/12/07)
- Steve Buscemi and Sienna Miller
Before our startled eyes, Sienna Miller has emerged as one our most exciting, daring young actresses by playing actresses with far less talent but, like her, personality to burn. Following up her emotionally-charged performance as Andy Warhol’s most captivating “Superstar,” the ill-fated Edie Sedgwick, in the ill-conceived “Factory Girl,” Miller now gives another savvy, dynamic turn as “B” movie star/“A” list celebrity in “Interview.” Her enigmatic Katya spends an eventful, twists-and-turns kind of night sparring with Pierre, a condescending ex-war correspondent sent to do a profile on her.” Directed by and co-starring Steve Buscemi, “Interview” is the first of three two-character films being adapted by American actor-directors (Stanley Tucci and John Turturro are helming the others), from Dutch films directed by the late Theo Van Gogh, who became a martyr to free speech when he was slain by an Islamic extremist because of his political views. Van Gogh’s crew, including cameramen who simultaneously shot with three digital cameras, worked with Buscemi (who with David Schecter adapted Theodor Holman’s screenplay). Fiercely experimental, “Interview” at its best is a witty, intense, perceptive look at the uneasy relationship between manipulative journalists and not-as-silly-as-they-seem celebrities—in which the prey can turn the tables--and at its worst (thankfully, a small portion of the film) is like a hackneyed psychodrama or pretentious acting-class exercise. But throughout, the two gifted actors keep our attention, and Miller, in particular, dazzles. This interview with the lovely, engaging “Interview” star was done in anticipation of the film’s Friday release.
Q: Steve Buscemi said there were eight or nine days of rehearsal and then another eight or nine days of shooting. How was it making this film so quickly and intensely?
A: It was great. I did a play in London in the West End, and I felt like I was doing a play again making this movie. We shot this in sequence, which is what I love about theater, and learned our lines in order, as if it were a play. Sometimes, we shot thirty pages of dialogue in one night and some of the takes would be eight minutes long, which was bliss because we could really lose ourselves in it, until they’d say “Cut!” Actually they didn’t say “Cut” because it was a Dutch crew and that word in Dutch means something rude—it means what it sounds like missing one letter. So they asked if we’d mind using the word “Halt!”—which had me in stitches at the end of every take. When they did say “Halt!,” we were suddenly back in reality. It was lovely having finished such a long scene, without worrying about doing pick-ups. It was freeing working with the three hand-held cameras, with one camera on each actor. Physically we could do everything we wanted because there were no continuity issues.
Q: Since you are on camera almost the entire film, did it help that your director also is an actor?
A: I had never been directed by an actor before and it was a joy. Obviously Steve has an inherent understanding of what it’s like to be on the other side of a camera. He was an accomplished director who really understood me when I was having a panic attack and screaming, “I can’t do this! I’m terrible!” He’d say, “That’s okay, I’m terrible, too.” We could bond with the self-flagellation that comes with being an actor. He understood the process, and if I asked for another take, he’d identify with my dissatisfaction and give it to me without having to ask why.
Q: Do you see any parallels between Katya and yourself?
A: She’s an actress, too, so she’s obviously in the same world, but her reaction to celebrity is the opposite of mine. When she comes out of the restaurant and sees the paparazzi, she stops and smiles and poses, whereas I’d probably throw an egg and an obscenity and run off. However, I did bring bits of myself to Katja in terms of the physicality of the part. For instance, in the middle of one scene, Katja runs and dives onto a sofa, just like I do in my own house. Also, when she just drops her head onto the table, that was like me. And when she takes a sip of wine and it spills on her face--that actually happens to me. So there are definitely me-isms in there. But unlike Katya I’m not manipulative, conniving, narcissistic, or ostentatious, and I don’t have magazine pictures of myself around my house—which I find amusing and is far from my own sense of being. To be fair, I kind of love the character because she is unashamed of what she is and is very forthright. I respect her for standing up for herself. Also, I like that she “plays” Pierre in his own game. She’s very smart and cunning.
Q: ONLY PEOPLE WHO HAVE SEEN THE FILM SHOULD READ THIS QUESTION AND YOUR ANSWER, but: Is the whole night Katya spends with Pierre at her apartment, during which she convinces him she is something she isn’t, proof to him and herself that she’s a good actress?
A: Yes! That’s my opinion! In the earlier scene in which she rehearses with her friend, she comes across as the world’s worst actress. I was in heaven playing that because she was so bad. I thought I should just quit movies and do sitcoms because it was so hilarious. However, despite being so dreadful rehearsing, at the end of the day, Katya convinces Pierre that she is a good actress, because he discovers she was putting on an act the entire time and he fell for it. She does prove that night that she has real acting ability.
Q: What’s the worst experience you’ve had with a journalist?
A: I remember when I first starting acting, I had a cup of coffee with a journalist by my house. She was lovely and I invited her into my house for tea. And in her article, she crucified my messy house and dirty plates and that kind of thing. I was nineteen and, granted, not the tidiest person, but I felt she took advantage of me. I was known first for my fashion sense before I had a film out and people were quite dismissive of me as an actress, and that was hard. However, I’ve never met a journalist as rude and ill-prepared as Steve’s character, and I don’t know how I’d react in that situation. My problem with journalists is that I’m quite trusting of people and find it hard to lie. Therefore if I get asked personal questions, I’ll give honest replies, and some people will take advantage of that quality in me and manipulate what I say. That’s why I’m known to “put my foot in my mouth.” Also, sarcasm and humor don’t translate well to print, which is something I’m trying to get a grasp of. I’ll say something in a certain way that’s quite funny, but in print it comes across as appalling. It seems like I’ll never learn.
Q: Have you ever liked an article about you?
A: If it’s in a newspaper or tabloid magazine, probably not. I have read some fair articles by good writers, and I’ve read some that weren’t very nice. So I try not to read anything about me unless it’s by a writer I respect.
Q: Why do you think people want to know so much about you?
A: I wish I knew, I really do. Maybe they care because of the way things happened. I was well known before I had a film released, and was part of something that was sort of a soap opera that people felt very involved in. There were my relationships and certain dramas happened, so my life became like a sitcom for everyone to watch. In truth, my life is relatively uneventful. I’m probably home every night with my dogs, but nobody wants to write or read that. If I go out one night in a month, which is all it might be, it will be made into such a drama to keep what sells newspapers afloat. If I have one drink, I was supposedly drunk, because scandal is what sells papers. I’m very different from how I’m perceived. I’ve learned I’m never going to beat the media because those people are more rich and powerful than I’ll ever be and when you fight back, there is retaliation. So I just try to do the best I can in my work and keep my integrity and be the person I really am. Everything else is out of my control.
Q: What do you like to do in your down time?
A: I love going to art galleries and museums, the theater, the ballet. The music I love best is old rock ‘n’ roll. I’ve seen the Stones three times this year, including in Rome on Friday night and they were fantastic. I actually got to meet Keith Richards!
Q: What about movies?
A: I love many different types of movies. I love old movies. I just flew from Rome yesterday and I watched “Love Story” on the plane. I forgot how tragically sad the ending is and I had to put a blanket over my head so someone I knew on the plane wouldn’t see me weeping. I love Charlie Chaplin movies. I love small, independent films like Steve’s “Trees Lounge.” And European films like “My Life As a Dog,” which is one of my favorite films. And I even love some epics, like “Gladiator” and “Braveheart.”
Q: What about your own upcoming movies?
A: I don’t even remember what’s coming out. Let me think…Well, I’m in “Stardust,” but just barely. Matthew Vaughn, who directed me in my first film “Layer Cake,” phoned me up and asked me to come in and do a brief cameo. He got a lot of great actors to do small parts. I got to be in the same room with Robert De Niro and got to look at him and I drew that out at long as I could, but there wasn’t much interaction. Charlie Cox, the lead, had played my brother in Casanova, so I enjoyed being with him again. So that was a great experience.
I loved making “Camille” with James Franco, who is now one of my closest friends, That was a great experience. I got to ride a blue horse while wearing a red wig by Niagara Falls. It was mad!
Another film due out sometime is “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh.” They didn’t like me on that very much —I was ostracized. But not by the cast. I loved the cast. Nick Nolte was so interesting and open, and he shared some fascinating life stories and was the consummate professional. It was wonderful working with him, and I’m a huge fan of Peter Sarsgaard. It’s a lovely story and I felt it was my last chance to play someone who is surrendering her youth and making the transition into adulthood.
And I just finished “The Edge of Love,” which is with Keira Knightley, Cillian Murphy, and Matthew Rhys playing Dylan Thomas. It was directed by one of my best friends, John Maybury, who made an amazing film about Francis Bacon called “Love Is the Devil.” We filmed it in Wales countryside in the spring and the bluebells were in bloom and the lambs were being born, and it had been awhile since I spent a solid amount of time in the countryside. I realized I need the balance that country life gives me. Because sometimes things in my life get a "little" hectic.