Interview: Eva Green – Kingdom Of Heaven

Courting Controversy Green is the new black
Eva Green – Kingdom Of Heaven.
Copy: Lórien Haynes

When Bernardo Bertolucci hand picked French ingénue Eva Green to star in his sexually controversial film The Dreamers, he described her as ‘so beautiful. It’s indecent.’

Now the 24 year old daughter of French actress Marlene Jobert, co-stars with Orlando Bloom in the first blockbuster of 2005; Ridley Scott’s crusade epic Kingdom of Heaven. And again, with its depiction of Muslim and Christian conflict, Green finds herself at the center of a celluloid controversy.

In the film Green plays Princess Sybilla, Jerusalem royalty, who captivates Bloom’s blacksmith Balian. But will the model face of Armani’s Summer 2005 campaign [Green’s sideline] equally captivate the movie going public? We met the spring chicken to see what she has to say for herself…

So Eva, how did you get the part of Sybilla in Kingdom of Heaven?

Because I’m very good. No, it was a long tough process. The studio backing the film didn’t know me – I was just ‘a French girl,’ an unknown – so I had to have five screen tests at Pinewood. But thanks to Ridley’s support, they finally went for the fresh and the new.

Were you nervous about the prospect of starting filming?

My God yes. I was shooting a nineteenth century French movie [Arsene Lupin] at the time and was only hired for Kingdom of Heaven a week before shooting started. There was no time to prepare – and I was supposed to sound British! Five minutes later, I was on set in Morocco confronted by an enormous crew and a fantastic cast. I ended up pinching myself every day. It didn’t feel real.

Did you feel the same about working with Orlando?

No. He’s charming and straightforward. We had one day of rehearsing together and he immediately put me at my ease. I think he’s just a normal guy who can’t quite cope with being a big star or with his huge female fan base. But I think this role is good for him. As Balian, he’s turning from a young romantic lead into a rugged hero. From boy to man.

But we heard he had to wear a fake chest wig for this?

Absolutely not – though he did have three days worth of growth on his face. It was me who had the fake chest wig.

Yes, it’s a prerequisite of all proper princesses. But is your princess a Barbie or a Boudicca?

Ridley’s women always have a dark side, a strong side – so, thankfully, I’m not simply love interest.

How was working with Ridley?

He’s a gentleman. He never raises his voice or shows tension or anxiety. But he has power and he expresses a great deal with his eyes. I found the fact that he trusts you as an actor really makes you feel liberated.

What’s your favorite film of his to date?

The first movie of his that struck me was Legend. It didn’t entirely work but it was magical. I loved the whole pre-raphelite aesthetic, the vibrant colors, the fluid material. I thought of it going into Kingdom of Heaven – the whole idea of being a princess in a fairytale.

How was the shoot in Morocco – a nightmare?

We were in the desert for three months and it was like going back centuries. Time has stood still and nothing has changed there; there are the same smells, the same food, the same cultural aspects as existed in the 11th century.

Anything funny happen on set?

Yes, if you consider being the only girl on set funny. The great thing about that though, was all the men took care of me.

I bet they did! How exactly?

Well it meant I went to the bar a lot! One night, we had a birthday party for one of the assistants and started singing national songs. So I got up and sang a French one and Michael Sheen [who plays Bloom’s brother] sang one in Welsh. THAT was funny – but I guess you had to be there.

Do you feel the film will stir up religious controversy?

Unfortunately yes. Everyone’s already talking about that.

How does it compare to the US uproar over the sexually explicit nature of The Dreamers?

Well that was quite paradoxical because in America there is so much violence, both on the streets and on the screen. They think nothing of it. Yet I think they are frightened by sex. With Kingdom it’s different issues. There was a recent article in the New York Times saying it shows Arabic people in a bad light. But to me the film says that war is futile and that people will find love irrespective of race. The title itself describes Jerusalem as somewhere where all races live together harmoniously.

Did you research these issues prior to filming?

I read Crusades Through Arab Eyes and went to the Arab Institute in Paris because I wanted to be aware of both sides of the argument. And I hope this film will do good rather than bad – obviously.

There was rumor of a terrorist attack on set – was that true?

I was in Paris at the time but all I heard was that it was a bad joke – a firework going off. Unfortunately everyone thought it was a terrorist explosion. Thank God it wasn’t true.

And to finish off on a far fluffier level, you are the face of Emporio Armani 2005 – what does that entail?

As the image for Armani Spring Summer 2005 I’m lucky enough to get a certain amount of credit for clothes. And I love Armani – I’m wearing him right now – he’s so chic and simple.

So bottom line – model or actress – which one’s it gonna be?

Guess! Acting of course.

Kingdom of Heaven is released on May 6th.

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