Eva Green: 'She will die for her children'
Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children star shares her character's heart of gold
Eva Green may have carved out a name for herself as Hollywood's go-to Gothic femme fatale, but it's one she is not exactly thrilled about.
In Tim Burton's new fantasy flick Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, based on the bestselling 2011 young adult novel book by Ransom Riggs, she reunites with the US film-maker for the title role, that of a headmistress who runs a home that shelters children who are considered freaks and outcasts in the outside world because of their special abilities, like super strength, invisibility or control of the elements.
Addressing her reputation that has her always going for "dark" mysterious roles, the 36-year-old French actress expressed surprise.
In person, she is somewhat shy and confesses to being a bit nervous when doing publicity.
Sporting a lacy black Elie Saab outfit and her signature smoky black eye make-up, Green tells M at the Claridge's hotel in London: "I feel like people feel reassured when they put people in a box and put a label on it. Of course I have this label saying femme fatale, Gothic, and I feel like I'm so not like this. I feel like I've done other things as well.
"When I hear the word 'dark', I don't know what it means. I like dense, complex stuff. I don't want to be just a facade or something, you know, and I hope people don't just see this."
Her latest character, Miss Peregrine, has a peculiarity of her own - she can manipulate time as a "ymbryne", creating a time loop of 24 hours so that everyone in the home lives the same day over and over, protected from beings called Hollows and Wights who wish them harm and want to steal their abilities.
When the time loop is compromised, 16-year-old visitor Jake Portman (Asa Butterfield) discovers his own peculiar abilities and promises Miss Peregrine he will save the children.
Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children opens here Sep 29.
On her second time working with Burton after 2012's Dark Shadows, Green says: "He has always been my kind of hero. I think he's such a unique artist, full of poetry.
"Yeah, he's Gothic, but there's so much light in it, you know? There's so much fun and he's such a master and so lyrical and sensitive.
"There's a lot of humanity to his movies. In life, we have lots of moments of darkness and light, and his movies always have light at the end of the tunnel. There's always hope."
Burton gave Green Riggs' book before he handed over the movie script and she was immediately taken by "those amazing odd pictures, a bit austere and quite Victorian".
She describes her character as "this kind of weird, bonkers Mary Poppins who looks after all these gorgeous children and smokes a pipe".
That this is the first time she isn't playing the alluring love interest (Casino Royale, Kingdom Of Heaven) or witchy seductress (Dark Shadows, 300: Rise Of An Empire, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For), but a mother figure appealed to her greatly.
"She will die for her children; she will be ready to sacrifice herself to defend her little creatures," she says.
Like Miss Peregrine, taking care of people seems to come naturally to her.
"One of my best friends always calls me Florence Nightingale," she says.
"I love helping people and it kind of makes me happy as well. Just, you know, to be kind."
She confesses to having her own share of peculiarities growing up.
"I felt strange as a child," she says.
"I was very shy, scared of going to birthday parties and of clowns."
Working in Hollywood made her feel out of place as well.
"In the beginning I was very intimidated," she says.
"It took me a while. I think a lot of actors feel strange in LA anyway. You always feel like you are being judged - are you hot, are you not hot, you know?"
PECULIAR: Actress Eva Green plays the titular character in Tim Burton's Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children. PHOTOS: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX
Tim Burton: Eva Green is a rarity
Responsible for some of the most unique and iconic films made, such as Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and Batman, Tim Burton is often described as a visionary director known for his creative imagination.
But if you expect to meet a mad genius with hair askew, mumbling into his beard, you would be mistaken.
The most normal-looking man walks into the Soho Hotel in London for our interview and the most interesting thing about the 58-year-old is a glimpse into his mind.
Let's talk about the concept of peculiarity in Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children. Would the children be considered superheroes?
There are a lot of superhero movies, but the thing that intrigued me about this is not so much that they are empowered, but somewhat empowered and afflicted at the same time.
Something about the word peculiar spoke to me. It's just who they are - a kid who just happens to have bees living inside him or a girl who just happens to be strong, or happens to have a little mouth at the back of her head.
Why did you choose to cast Eva Green for Miss Peregrine?
I have worked with Eva a couple of times and I love her. She's got such a mixture of humour and mystery and strength. She is like an old Hollywood mysterious movie star to me, somebody that you just don't know everything about.
I always decided I had a weird connection with her. She is just somebody who is a rarity in this day and age - somebody who I know, but I don't know.
Because I am a non-verbal person, having a connection with somebody on a kind of subconscious level is something that is very meaningful for me and very special and hard to even talk about. She has got that.
How was it, directing Samuel L. Jackson, who plays Mr Barron, the undead leader of the Wights?
I felt bad for him. Sam is this great actor and he goes, "What is on for today?" And I go, "Sam, do you mind if we put you on wires and yank you across the room? Or do you mind, we are going to set you on fire now. Oh, do you mind being blown by a giant wind machine wearing white contact lenses, and by the way, act as well?"
And what was it like to work with all the kids?
There's one kid, I have to be careful, I almost strangled him, which you are not supposed to do with children or adults or anybody. But they were great. It was sort of like the Dirty Dozen. I sort of saw, off on the side, that they all kind of became the characters and bonded with each other. And so kids are like adults, just intelligent and really talented and you don't really treat them like kids, they are little adults.
Do you know where your creativity comes from?
I don't know. I have been trying to find out for many, many years and spent millions on therapy and I still don't know. (Laughs.)
Moviegoers would naturally assume your dreams are as visual as your films. What do you dream about?
Very banal things. The scariest dream, I think I woke up screaming in a sweat, was that somebody made me go to school that morning. And there's one dream I can't describe to you because it's too X-rated. (Laughs.) - Meher Tatna
SPECIAL CONNECTION: Eva Green and Tim Burton.