Woman of Action
Actress Kate Mara toughens up to kick butt in Morgan
In the new sci-fi thriller Morgan, a stern corporate management consultant played by Kate Mara is brought in to control the titular genetically-engineered humanoid (Anya Taylor-Joy) when the latter violently injures a scientist in the remote, top-secret lab where she was created.
Mara's character sees the creature as a machine while the scientists regard her as a person - forming one of the philosophical questions raised in the movie.
The movie, which opens here tomorrow, is produced by veteran English film-maker Ridley Scott and directed by his son Luke.
A blonde Mara arrived at The London West Hollywood hotel for our interview, explaining that the new lighter hair is for her next film role.
Petite, delicate, and wearing a feminine floral Elie Saab top, she looked very different from her grim and athletic character in Morgan, something she found exciting.
The 33-year-old US actress said: "She is very controlled, emotionally and physically. She holds herself in a certain way. Her emotions are very contained.
STAR POWER: (Top and above, right) US actress Kate Mara, who acts alongside Anya Taylor-Joy (above, left) in the film Morgan, which opens here tomorrow. PHOTOS: HOLLYWOOD FOREIGN PRESS, TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX
"Everything she does is led by the training that she has had in order to do her job well, to be the best risk management consultant she can be."
There was a lot of physical training involved as the younger Scott wanted her character to be "great at two extremes, feminine and masculine".
So, Mara boxed and did ballet for two months at the same time.
She said: "For about two weeks, every single day for six or seven hours, Anya and I trained with a stunt team together.
"There is a massive fight between our characters at the end of the film and it is a pretty long one, so it took us those two weeks every day, all day, learning that stuff."
Since Mara has now worked with both father (in last year's The Martian) and son, she said that although "they are very different people", the similarities are also "very clear" to her.
While the older Scott did not visit the Morgan set, he was involved in the editing and post-production process.
"They both have this trust in their actors, and so when you get to set, they just expect you to know exactly what you are doing.
"They both say that they hired the right people for the jobs, and then just sort of let us experiment.
"Of course they are there if you have any questions, but at the end of the day, I think they expect you to know the answers to your own questions about your character, which is both a little bit scary and also liberating.
"And they both have a great sense of humour - very sarcastic, which I love," she said with a laugh.
Speaking of keeping it in the family, Mara - who is currently dating her Fantastic Four co-star Jamie Bell - played down any talk of sibling rivalry.
She said she and her younger sister Rooney, who is also an actress, are "constantly looking" for a project to work together on, but have not yet found anything.
Mara said: "We want to be as picky as we can be with whatever it is that we end up doing.
"Our mum is a great help in that she loves to read, so she is constantly sending us good books with two female characters that she thinks we might like. So hopefully it would be a good story if our mum found us the movie. She would love that."
In her downtime, aside from going to New York City to watch Broadway shows, the animal lover plays with her two dogs.
She is a big supporter of the Humane Society of the United States.
Last month, when Mara learnt that more than 70 animals were rescued from an Ohio property in horrible condition, she flew there from Los Angeles to assist with the large-scale cruelty case, reported People magazine.
Mara, who alongside Rooney recently used their star power to help former laboratory chimps, sat with the animals at the emergency shelter and helped calm them.
She said: "I love working with (Humane Society)... I mean, listen, I only do those sorts of things for a few days here and there throughout the year, so I cannot say that I am involved every day.
"But I try and be as much as I can be. Those people inspire me so much and I really look up to them."
They both have this trust in their actors, and so when you get to set, they just expect you to know exactly what you are doing.
- Actress Kate Mara on the father-and-son team, Ridley and Luke Scott, behind upcoming film Morgan