It’s a vision of the end of the world unlike anything we’ve seen before. Perfect Sense, directed by David Mackenzie, takes place in a world struck by a mysterious disease that feverishly knocks out the senses, one by one, from the human race. This is the backdrop for the love story of Susan (Eva Green), a wounded-in-love epidemiologist, and Michael (Ewan McGregor), the chef in the restaurant downstairs from her apartment who occasionally bums smokes off her and admires from afar. Together, they navigate the new world, struggling to stick together as society is crumbling around them.
Interview spoke with Eva Green about the normalcy of her character, the gallows humor of biologists and epidemiologists, and her electric character in the upcoming Tim Burton film, Dark Shadows.
CRAIG HUBERT: Initially, what interested you in the character of Susan?
EVA GREEN: I thought, first of all, that it was a very romantic movie, very sentimental; a thought-provoking film. Susan is a nice character, kind of damaged, her heart is broken and she doesn’t want to fall in love. It was a nice love story.
HUBERT: What is most important to you when deciding on a role? Is the script enough? Do you need to sit down with the director first, or know who you are acting alongside?
GREEN: Yeah, all of those things. Of course, the main thing is the script. The script and director, absolutely.
HUBERT: What were the early conversations like with David Mackenzie?
GREEN: The weird thing is I knew David. I’ve known him for years, and we always wanted to work together. I love the guy, and the script was very interesting, so it was an easy thing.
HUBERT: The romantic role is an unusual one for you in your career so far. Was part of your interest doing something different than before, maybe out of your comfort zone?
GREEN: Yeah—I thought she was quite normal. [laughs] Lately I’ve played quite extreme people, a bit mad. Sometimes I felt, my God, I’m playing boring. She’s the closest character to me in real life. There’s something very simple about her. You know, we have several blockbusters that deal with the end of the world, and this one dealt with it with a refreshing new angle. I see the film as quite positive, not a dark, depressing film.
HUBERT: What sort of research did you do for the character? Did you visit epidemiologists?
GREEN: I spent a few days in a lab in Glasgow with biologists and epidemiologists. It was very interesting. They had very thick Scottish accents, so sometimes it was not easy to understand them. They were funny; they had a great sense of humor. They joke about death and diseases and cancer. [laughs] You go, “Oh my God.” I think it’s to protect them. They need armor. That’s what actually struck me.
HUBERT: Working with Ewan McGregor, do you do any preparation before stepping in front of the camera? Do you hang out off set?
GREEN: Yeah, we have lots of sex. [laughs]
HUBERT: Let’s hope a tabloid doesn’t print that. No, I imagine being on camera with somebody for so much of a film, it must be hard to not even have had a conversation with the person.
GREEN: It is, absolutely. Ewan is such a nice guy—he’s such a big star. First of all, we had a week of rehearsal with the director, which really helped finding the intimacy of the scenes, and the tone. Ewan is very generous, extremely normal, and very down to earth. He’s a real gentleman, he really wants you to feel comfortable. He’s very pure—he’s not afraid to show his emotions. It was very easy—he was a dream to work with.
HUBERT: We’ve talked about the romantic, sentimental aspects of the film. Was it difficult to balance those aspects with the larger, end-of-the-world, aspects of the film?
GREEN: I think that’s more a director’s question. It’s funny, because when I read the script, in the very beginning, some stuff was quite funny. After seeing the movie, I thought it was not very funny at all. [laughs] You know, I kind of misread it.
HUBERT: Does that often happen? You may not be disappointed with the end result, but it’s one thing to you and then you see it edited, with a score, on the screen, and it’s something completely different?
GREEN: It’s always different. Most of the time it’s a surprise, you’re not in control.
HUBERT: Is that something you enjoy? Seeing what the film becomes, out of your hands?
GREEN: You never know, you know? I’m always rather anxious. It’s not like in theater when you are more in control. You’re more—not a puppet, but you don’t control it. You don’t own it.
HUBERT: I know you have Dark Shadows coming out soon, which was directed by Tim Burton. Many people are excited this film. What was the experience like?
GREEN: Tim’s a wonderful human being, first of all; very normal, not weird at all. He’s a real artist, very kind, and he hasn’t lost the child inside him. He’s beautiful—I adore him, I’m in love with him. [laughs] It was a great experience, he gave me an amazing role—my character has a kind of electric, crazy relationship with Barnabas Collins, played by Johnny Depp. It was crazy.
PERFECT SENSE IS OUT TOMORROW.