Eva Green on Astronaut Drama Proxima and Tim Burton

From writer/director Alice Winocour, the indie drama Proxima follows a French woman named Sarah (Eva Green), as she trains for a year-long stint on the International Space Station. Although she is following her dream of being an astronaut, Sarah is also a single mother to eight-year-old daughter Stella (Zélie Boulant) and being torn between those two things takes an emotional toll.

During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, French actress Eva Green talked about why she found this story so moving, what made her want to work with filmmaker Alice Winocour, why she wasn’t willing to go anywhere near the centrifuge, wearing a space suit, the mother-daughter relationship, and the universal ability to identify with being torn between family and career. She also talked about working on two Frank Miller sequels, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and 300: Rise of an Empire, and whether she’s been approached by Tim Burton to join the recently announced live-action Addams Family TV series.

Collider: When you read this script, what were you most drawn to?

EVA GREEN: I was drawn to it, straight away, and wanted to do it. After the first time I read it, I was extremely moved. I was crying when I finished reading it. It was such a powerful love story between this mother and daughter. And of course, being an astronaut adds more conflict. All of those elements were very exciting.

When you read a script, do you typically know right away, if it’s something that you’re interested in or it’s a character that you think you’re able to bring something to?

GREEN: Yeah, I think so. Of course, it’s also important to know who’s directing and who the other actors are but when you feel connected with the character and you understand the guts of the character, that’s a good sign. It doesn’t happen often but when it happens, you’re like, “I wanna do this.”

It seems like a story like this also depends on the vision of the filmmaker. What did you most respond to, in talking to your director, Alice Winocour, about what the approach to this material would be?

GREEN: I knew Alice’s work, actually. I saw Augustine in the cinema, and then [Disorder]. She’s an awesome director who loves extreme situations and is very good at exploring internal conflict. I thought she would be interesting to work with. She’s a extremely demanding director but she’s as sensitive as she is demanding. It’s a strange mix but it’s really wonderful. She’s extremely and really wanted me to do lots of homework with her. For instance, we went to the European space agency in Cologne and worked with the instructors, who are the real training guys. That was quite intimidating. She gave me lots of documentaries to watch and books. It was full-on, every day with me. It’s wonderful to be that close with a director because when the film starts, you know what she wants and it’s a shortcut.

You have to really do a variety of different skills in this film, as your character goes through her training. What most surprised you about the extent of the training involved and was there something that was the hardest to shoot?

GREEN: Obviously, I didn’t do the centrifuge because I think I would’ve died. I can’t get on carousels, so I can’t imagine being on a centrifuge. They say it feels like several elephants on your chest, when it goes faster and faster, so I don’t think I would have survived it. The training was more physical training. Astronauts need to be very strong because the suit are extremely heavy, so I had to train physically, which gave me confidence in my body. To be an astronaut, these people are real superheroes. They speak six languages and have an amazing culture, they’re extremely strong physically, and they’re ready to go beyond their limits, just for the sake of science. They’re not human. They’re too perfect. They really are ready to do anything for their job. It’s not just a job, it’s like a religion. There’s that sense of sacrifice. It’s fascinating.

You’ve worn some of the most stunning costumes in film, throughout your career. How does putting on a spacesuit compare?

GREEN: It’s very heavy. It’s extremely heavy. That’s why these guys need to be very strong. They need to be very calm, as well, because you can’t move. For example, in the movie, you see my character going underwater, and that exercise lasts for eight hours underwater, so that you can do the same thing in space. They need to be extremely calm. Psychologically, they’re made of steel. They’re strong, in every way.

I especially loved this mother-daughter relationship. What was it like to get to explore that dynamic with Zélie Boulant and to form that bond together?

GREEN: It was her first job but there’s something very mature and old soul about her. I was very intimidated at the beginning and like, “Oh, God.” You couldn’t act and you couldn’t lie because she’d see right through you with her laser eyes. I hope that we’d be credible as mother and daughter. After a few rounds together, the fear went away and we relaxed, and that was that. There’s something quite reserved about her, which is quite similar to me. Maybe that’s why Alice picked her. I don’t know. Thankfully, she was really, really wonderful.

This film really highlights the struggle that many people face between family and career, and trying to figure out how to balance that, and this is at even more of a heightened level. What did you find yourself appreciating about someone like this, who is a single mother and is also trying to leave her mark in this very male profession, and trying to find a balance between that?

GREEN: Most women can identify with Sarah he center because we’re all faced with the dilemma of having a high-powered career and a family, and here, Sarah is a single mother. She enters a world that is made by men, so she has to work super hard and train harder. It is quite full-on. Lots of women, when they have that kind of job, having children can be perceived as a weakness. It could be seen as they could not do a proper job. There is also that feeling of guilt. It might be a cliche but for women, it’s more taboo. You aren’t allowed to do things to follow your passion because you could look like a selfish person. This movie is trying to show how typical it is to have to find a way to combine the two, and that you can.

Are there types of roles that you wish that you’d get offered or that you would like to get to do, that don’t come your way? Is there a genre that you’ve never gotten to work in, that you’d love to do?

GREEN: It’s funny, it seems like lots of people put me in this otherworldly, dark or gothic box. I guess I have to be careful and I need to do maybe more normal and realistic stuff, so that people can identify with me more. Maybe I should do more grounded work, I guess. I don’t know. God knows. I want to play interesting characters, at the end of the day, that have internal conflict. They can be a witch or somebody working in the field but it has to be a complex character.

You were in two Frank Miller sequels, with Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and 300: Rise of an Empire. What was it like to immerse yourself in such stylized worlds? Is that something that he really enjoyed getting to do?

GREEN: Yeah. With 300, it was not a normal character. She was a bloodthirsty warrior. It was bigger than life, which is always great. I think of acting as just wanting to play at being somebody rather than taking yourself too seriously. It’s just fun to not be yourself. Otherwise, to be myself would be extremely boring. And then, with Sin City, I was called last minute. I hadn’t really read any of the work before, but I really loved his world. It was very unique and very sharp and really, really cool. The comic book really helped me to create the character because they really took the shots from the comic books, so you didn’t have to guess what they wanted.

Over the years, you’ve become closely associated with Tim Burton. It was recently announced that he would tackle a new live-action Addams Family TV series, for which you would clearly make a killer Morticia. Have you spoken with Tim Burton about that, at all?

GREEN: I don’t know. I’ve never heard of that. It’s online but no. That would be cliche. That would be dangerous for me to play. I don’t know if it’s a real project. I haven’t been approached for it.

Proxima is available on digital and VOD.

Christina Radish is a Senior Reporter of Film, TV, and Theme Parks for Collider. You can follow her on Twitter @ChristinaRadish.

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Christina Radish (5060 Articles Published)

Christina Radish is a Senior Reporter at Collider. Having worked at Collider for over a decade (since 2009), her primary focus is on film and television interviews with talent both in front of and behind the camera. She is a theme park fanatic, which has lead to covering various land and ride openings, and a huge music fan, for which she judges life by the time before Pearl Jam and the time after. She is also a member of the Critics Choice Association and the Television Critics Association.

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