She was the most memorable Bond girl in an age and now relucant star Eva Green is having her wicked way with Johnny Depp in Dark Shadows. She talks to Michele Manelis.
If Eva Green has become Hollywood's femme fatale du jour, at least she won't need help with a translation of the job description. She was born and raised in France, but had a bilingual education in England and the American University of Paris. Her clipped British tones came in handy as Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale.
But largely her screen roles since, having made her acting debut in Bernardo Bertolucci's controversial The Dreamers in 2003, have consisted of queens and witches and a recurring theme: "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."
In Tim Burton's gothic farce Dark Shadows Green certainly has fun playing kooky angry witch, Angelique.
The lusty sorceress has cursed Johnny Depp's Barnabas Collins into vampiredom and left him entombed for 200 years. The film, which shows what happens when Barnabas is exhumed in 1971 and reunites with the immortal Angelique, is a remake of a 60s television series of the same name, a horror soap which had a cult following which included Burton and Depp.
"This role was a gift from heaven," says Green. "Angelique is absolutely bonkers, and is undoubtedly one of the best roles I've ever played. I got really lucky with this film, and to work with Tim Burton was the ultimate fantasy of mine. He's a genius."
One of the funniest moments in Dark Shadows is the over-the-top sex scene between Depp and Green.
She laughs, "We had to have stunt people do most of it and they got a lot of bruises. We just did the nice bit, rolling against a wall, that kind of thing. It was fun and so surreal. It wasn't like a sex scene in any other film where you're actually naked. In that scene we felt like we were in the circus."
Dark Shadows marks her return to the big screen after playing the scheming half sister of King Arthur in the short-lived television series Camelot. Green plays mysterious and villainous roles with a vivid authenticity.
"It seems to be my destiny. I can't get away from it," she acknowledges. "But I'm going to be bored soon if I keep playing the femme fatale."
In person, she's no less formidable than the women she portrays onscreen.
Dressed in skin-tight black leather pants, a black shirt, her hair is dyed black (which she's been doing since the age of 15), and she wears dangerously high-heeled Christian Dior shoes. She jokes, "These shoes are like weapons. They could probably kill somebody."
Leaning back in her chair, she says, "I know I seem very dark to other people, but I don't see myself that way. I mean, yes, I have black hair and I love wearing black, but that's mainly because I can't be bothered wearing colour and working out what to wear," she says.
She laughs. "My mother always says, 'Your hair is too black to go to LA. You have to go to the hairdresser.' But I want to be taken seriously and I know physique is important and I probably don't make as much effort as maybe I should."
The antithesis of a Hollywood leading lady, Green is straight-forward which is probably why she comes across as a little intimidating, and doesn't find the need to ingratiate herself - which makes her all the more likeable.
Sitting in her suite of the Beverly Hills SLS Hotel, Green is evidently not a fan of Los Angeles. She says, "The bullshit of Hollywood is okay for one week. You do your meetings and auditions but I feel that all that stuff sucks your blood. I actually feel very insecure here in LA and very self-conscious. LA is all about the work and whether you're hot or not hot. It's tough," she says. "And every time I'm here, I always can't wait to go back to Europe."
There's no doubt Green emits a certain confidence. It's difficult to imagine that underneath this steely exterior is a shy and insecure woman.
"Yes, I know. People don't believe it. It seems very funny and that's why I feel a bit mad because it's so paradoxical, but when I'm in a secure environment, like on a set when it's nice, it's great. It's all the judgment, the auditioning and the politics that I don't deal with very well. And it's a hard business because you're rejected more than you are accepted. That's the thing.
"But even growing up, I was a very shy child. I was happiest when it would rain because I could hide behind an umbrella. I also had a terrible time in school because I was so shy and fearful of everything."
Given her shy disposition, she certainly makes some brave fashion choices and puts herself directly in the firing line for some harsh criticism. "I think of myself as pretty conventional in my everyday life, so when I go on the red carpet, I'm like a little girl and I want to wear something fun that I would never wear to a normal party. And then I'll see myself in the 'what not to wear' section. I mean, who gives a f***? People take it so seriously. I think it's better to be unique."
She recalls, "I loved it when I was promoting the Bond film and there was an article in People magazine saying 'Eva Green. Worst Dressed'. I was quite proud."
Not much is known about her romantic life, although she was in a relationship with New Zealand actor, Marton Csokas, whom she met on Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven and split in 2009. She lives alone in London.
Green found herself the object of gossip earlier this year when it was reported that Depp and his longtime partner Vanessa Paradis might be breaking up, citing Green as the possible cause. "How do I deal with rumours?" she says, repeating the question. "I don't deal with them," she says, matter-of-factly. Nevertheless, gossip and speculation are part and parcel of public life.
"This job can make you paranoid very quickly. What I did learn through working with Johnny was that, famous as he is, he doesn't buy into it. He's actually very normal."
Who: Eva Green
What: Dark Shadows
When: Screening now
-TimeOutBy Michele Manelis