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Chatroom - Imogen Poots interview

Imogen Poots in Chatroom

Interview by Rob Carnevale

IMOGEN Poots talks about the appeal and challenge of working on psychological thriller Chatroom for Japanese director Hideo Nakata and why she feels the subject has plenty of relevance for modern audiences.

She also talks about her career to date, working with Michael Douglas and Michael Fassbender and what to expect from the forthcoming Fright Night remake with Colin Farrell…

Q. What was the appeal of Chatroom for you?
Imogen Poots: I think being part of something that was relevant to our generation and actually being of an age where I have seen technology develop to an extent. I think it’s something very current, I think it’s something important to explore, and the accessible nature of the Internet is something that’s quite controversial, so I was intrigued to be a part of it, and work with Hideo Nakata and the rest of the cast.

Q. Was that a surprising choice when you heard that Hideo was directing?
Imogen Poots: Not particularly, I mean, I guess the key with Chatroom was to have clarity otherwise the storyline could potentially become very confusing, although obviously the screenplay was adapted from Enda Walsh’s play. But I think Hideo has a real vibrant attitude and he wanted to make the chatroom environment something very exciting. He really wanted to instil an energy within us all that was quite a creative energy.

Q. What was the biggest challenge of finding your character? Did you like her?
Imogen Poots: I don’t think she’s a particularly brilliant person mentally, but I like the way all of the characters in a sense are multi-faceted and there are two sides to them: their online persona and the real-life human being beneath that. But I think with Eva, I think for me it was about exploring the idea of somebody who is really quite bored, quite insecure and impressionable.

William [Aaron Johnson] enables her to be somebody else for a short amount of time. She could be the manipulator and she could take advantage of Emily and put herself up on a pedestal. But I think it’s just really a matter of acceptance within the chatroom and the search to find your own identity, which I think they’re all struggling to do.

Q. Did you do any research like visiting chatrooms?
Imogen Poots: I did do some research and I understood what was current, certainly in terms of Japan and Wales, where all those suicides were linked together through groups on the Internet. I did join Facebook for a little bit to understand the addiction. But I’ve never used chatrooms in my life and I don’t think I ever will because I prefer writing letters and calling people up.

Q. Are you an avid Internet user generally?
Imogen Poots: I’m pretty inept with technology [laughs]! But it’s fascinating in that you can read a book, or an essay, and really access anything you want. It is fantastic for self tutoring and research. But I don’t think anything beats going along to a library and picking up a dusty book.

Q. Do you resist the temptation to Google yourself or read your own reviews?
Imogen Poots: I do. I think that’s dangerous because I think you’re setting yourself up for a damaged soul within! I think it’s best to Google other things. But my mum will let me know if there’s anything worthwhile, I’m sure [laughs].

Q. How was working with fellow cast members such as Matthew Beard and Aaron Johnson?
Imogen Poots: Amazing, Matthew Beard, Hannah Murray, Daniel Kaluuya and Aaron Johnson are all fantastic and we became close. We all became very close and it was very much… the storyline and the dynamic involves all the characters interlinking, so it was an intimate script and story. But they’re all amazing actors and really nice people.

Q. Did you have a long rehearsal period?
Imogen Poots: We did… I think we had a couple of weeks so we could find out who each other were, really, and how we were going to relate our characters to one another. I think chemistry was key when it came to these people… although strangely enough they never actually meet until the end face to face, which is quite a strange concept.

Q. With a script as sharp as Enda’s, are you allowed to improvise or bring things on the day that you might think work better?
Imogen Poots: Enda was very liberal with the script and I think of the opinion that if something doesn’t sound right in your mouth, then it’s not going to sound right for the story. Obviously, he’d written this fantastic play already, which was such a success, so it was a matter of finding out who these people were, who they were to us and incorporating perhaps part of ourselves in then, so he was liberal from that point of view.

Q. What was the most challenging scene for you? Was there any one in particular you found difficult?
Imogen Poots: I think in terms of the challenge of the script, the final few scenes are pretty intense, especially bearing in mind this is the first time we’ve seen one another. So, it all happens very quickly, it’s very rapid, and so that was intense in terms of taking everything in and what was going on in their own minds at that moment.

Q. You seem to have had an amazing couple of years in terms of the roles you’ve been getting. How has it been for you? Does it feel like a bit of a whirlwind?
Imogen Poots: To an extent, yeah. It’s a funny thing. I guess it’s always a matter of just trying to do as much as you can and also using time to inform yourself constantly, as well as doing work and doing jobs that you feel you love and want to be doing. That’s a very special thing and I feel recently the parts that I’ve played are ones that I’ve really wanted to play, and it’s never been about having to for some other reason. But it’s weird… with acting I think you’re constantly thinking about the next thing, which is an awful mindset to be in, especially when you’re completely in love with your current thing. So, it’s a disjointed, weird vacuum at times.

Q. Hollywood seems to be increasingly claiming you for its own… Is that something that you don’t mind doing? Or will you maintain a career on both side of the Atlantic?
Imogen Poots: Certainly, yeah. It’s about the part more than anything… the part that you play, the projects you’re a part of and the people you’re working with. It’s always a collaborative process and that’s key. So, if it’s a part that you want to play, then you try and play it, wherever that might be – in America, in England or in the middle of the sea [laughs]. You just do what you can and try and stay happy.

Q. How much do you get a kick out of working with people like Michael Douglas (A Solitary Man) and Michael Fassbender (Centurion)?
Imogen Poots: It’s fantastic and I feel very, very lucky. Every person I’ve worked with has really been incredible in terms of observing them and, hopefully, how they will inform you and help you to learn. They have provided special, special moments in life as well… real adventures. Michael Douglas and Michael Fassbender are really stunning actors and very human people.

Q. Do you still have to pinch yourself when you walk onto a set with them? Do you get nervous when your first day approaches?
Imogen Poots: I think the prospect of working with people of such calibre, of course, it’s daunting to an extent. But at the same time, you’re there to do a job and you have to bear that in mind. But of course, you indulge in that moment because they’re such incredible talents, so to be working alongside them is a real privilege.

Q. How was working with Colin Farrell in the upcoming Fright Night remake?
Imogen Poots: Lovely, lovely, lovely! He’s a very special person.

Q. Can we expect to see some vampires with some bite?
Imogen Poots: I think so… lots of biting and lots of naked necks and lots of seduction.

Q. Will it be a shot for shot remake?
Imogen Poots: I think there’s a balance of comedy and horror, so it’s not completely gruesome the whole time. There are a couple of lighter moments.

Read our review of Chatroom

Read our interview with Hannah Murray