Your character is very strong and doesn't care what other people think. Do you relate to her?

I don't know what a strong character really means. She's rebellious and she has a kind of reflex, where she's disobedient. She's like, "Oh, I'm a rebel." I'm a rebel but I think in many ways she's quite weak and vulnerable. In a way I feel like she has to go home. She cut off her childhood and her family and her religion and her community, a bit like a kind of limb. I see it slightly differently. I see it like she has to go back and reconnect with her past. If you're always running from something then you're not really free.

Are you someone who will speak up at the risk of not being liked?

Really more than anything else in the world I admire people who are willing to stand up for the truth and risk not being liked. For me that is the most beautiful human quality. But am I like that? I hope so.


What were you like as a kid?

I was quite shy, yeah, believe it or not. And a tomboy.

You produced this film - were you looking for a story with two female central figures?

Yes. I was looking for a story about two women. I found many that were set in the 1950s when being gay was taboo. There was something about this one. It's up the road from where I grew up in North London but I don't know anybody from this community. I have no access to it. Nobody does unless they grew up in it.

Were you raised Jewish?

My dad came from a Jewish family. My mum was raised Catholic. She converted because my dad wouldn't have married her otherwise, so I grew up with an understanding of both those religions. I am just not a religious person. I don't practise any religion. What's interesting to me is the similarities between religions ... I am really interested in ending the prejudices. Faith is a beautiful thing. I don't have it yet. Maybe one day I'll find God.

How did you prepare for your sex scene with Rachel McAdams?

I think particularly as a woman, when you have a sex scene you're always kind of like, "Ugh is this really necessary for the story? If this scene wasn't in the film wouldn't the film still make sense?" In this case, the scene was absolutely totally necessary. It's like the centre of the film.


How so?

There's repression in this society towards Esti's [McAdams] sexuality and then they are alone and they can express themselves, so to me it's emotional. It's deeply part of the story and it's very important. In terms of preparation there was no method acting. It's very emotional for them but it's not just sex. It's their hearts, their soul.

What have you learned about love?

Well, of course, there are different kinds of love. I really love my cat, Sullivan. I'm obsessed with my cat but that's a really different kind of love from my son. I think a parent's love is a pretty crazily powerful and fierce. I have a big, big love affair with my son, yeah.

Do you and your husband Daniel, Mr James Bond, read each other's scripts? Do you discuss these things?

We try not to so it will be a nice surprise when we see the film. I think it could get very boring in any profession to be continually talking shop. I'm very interested by his work and I'm a huge fan of his acting but we find other things to talk about, like world politics, of course.

There are a lot of roles for women on screen as there are behind the camera in this film. As a producer, were you in charge of that? Was this a political statement?

If it's political that I'm interested in my gender then, yes. For me, it's not like I have to put on a political hat. I was born a woman, I am a woman, half the planet is women. I'm a woman and I've seen thousands of films by men with male leads that I love. I think women tell stories differently - but it doesn't feel political. I want to hear [women's] stories alongside the men's. I want to hear both.

You've said that you rely on music to get into character. Is that still the case?

I used to, not so much to get into character as much as to get into the emotion. But I haven't done that for years. There is some music that can make you very emotional. Pop music can take you back. When you hear a certain song, you're 15 years old. Music can do that in a way that almost nothing else can.

Disobedience, NZIFF Auckland
July 19-August 5