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Sucker Punch - Abbie Cornish interview

Sucker Punch

Interview by Rob Carnevale

ABBIE Cornish talks about working with Zack Snyder in Sucker Punch, exploring the movie’s themes and her own sexuality and bonding with her female cast members. She also talks about her career and her next movie, The Girl.

Q. How is it working with Zack Snyder?
Abbie Cornish: He’s incredible and he’s so wise. I love his technical knowledge of filmmaking. That’s what kind of blew my mind. I thought I was really in awe of him watching him move the camera and manipulate the camera. There were things that he was doing that I’d never seen done before.

Q. Is this movie really a girl’s fantasy?
Abbie Cornish: Well, I think in the dimensions of the film you explore fantasy for sure. I always felt that the brothel/burlesque world is Baby Doll’s fantasy. It’s a sub-reality. It’s the reality through her eyes and then, of course, there’s the action world, which is like a sub-conscious extension of that… you know, the alternate fantasy. And so, that’s what it explores though. If you’re exploring escapism, you’re exploring the power of the mind and fantasy plays a huge role in that and how someone can utilise their mind – this whole idea of fate and destiny and entrapment.

Q. So, did you see it also as a fairytale for you?
Abbie Cornish: Some people talk about it in that sort of sense. I saw it as a very existential study of the world that we live in and the culture that we live in. I love the juxtaposition of the film and the subject matters that it deals with and how it kind of presents it to you and how that impacts you. I’ve always loved poetry and, for me, when you read an amazing juxtaposition within a great poem it just hits you so hard, like a great Keats poem. The fact that in one sentence he explores death and love… or he mentions a flower and then mentions dying and what that does to you. And so I feel like the film has an element of that juxtaposition and the fact that you’re kind of forced to investigate these subject matters no matter what, even if they’re just in there. And the voice-over kind of highlights that.

Q. That said, there are few films that enable girls to get involved in as much action such as this, so that must have been exhilarating and tiring?
Abbie Cornish: Energising actually. It’s strange because it gets under your skin. I found it really hard sometimes to wind down after work, particularly when we were shooting. When we were training it was a little easier because it’s like a meditation… you find this Zen-like state with the mixed martial arts and even training in the gym… particularly using the weapons, like guns. If a gun was hot, you’re incredibly focused. So, the training was a little easier because, for me, it was a very peaceful time in my life, surprisingly enough. I kind of loved that state of mind.

But shooting… I’d get home from shoot days… Jena [Malone] and I would spend a lot of time together because we played sisters and so we were constantly working on things but there were times where I had to hang out with the girls after work just to unwind. If I got four hours sleep because that’s all I could get that was fine, because your adrenaline and everything. It’s hard to switch that off.

Q. So, you’d all hit the nightspots of Vancouver?
Abbie Cornish: We’d all be sitting around singing songs and having jam sessions and just be together. We’d do karaoke and we would sometimes go out. But a lot of the time, it was more about being with each other I think.

Sucker Punch

Q. How hard was playing with your sex appeal?
Abbie Cornish: The process of training was so physical and so raw that our physical bodies were more like machines. They were these entities that we had to totally connect to, be at one with, but be super-aware of. You know, you couldn’t miss a beat, so for three months we weren’t in those costumes – we were training in the gym in track pants and trainers and with stunt-men. So, I think that affects and dictates the experience of making this film. I remember at first when I put on Sweet Pea’s outfit, I thought: “Oh OK, now I have to do all of that in this!”

It was just a matter of feeling it out. I had those long tails, so because of certain kicks we ended up having to shorten my coat. Originally, it was really long. But it was interesting, I think because of the training there was a different mentality about our bodies as women. It was like putting on armour in the morning. I loved gearing up in the morning. I loved the sound of the Velcro on my gloves and my boots and making sure my shotgun bullets were there. There was something kind of amazing about the process of getting ready in the morning.

Q. How much did that training process bring you together as a unit? And did you sometimes find yourselves having to remind each other there should be tensions between your characters?
Abbie Cornish: You know, the beautiful thing is the more you know someone, the more open your relationship is with them, the more you can do – whether it’s laugh or cry or yell or scream… anything. So, the fact that we did develop such strong friendships allowed us to go to these places with each other. For me and Emily in particular, because I guess that was a place of conflict, it was amazing to be able to feel like I could yell at her in a scene and then straight after you’re running off to grab a cup of tea together and you’re talking about what’s going to happen this weekend. There’s something lovely and very healthy about that.

Q. What’s next for you?
Abbie Cornish: I’ve been preparing a film for three months and I go to Mexico in a couple of weeks. It’s David Riker’s new film. It’s called The Girl. He did a film called La Ciudad about seven or eight years ago. The film’s set in San Antonio and set throughout Mexico. Most of it is myself and a nine-year-old Mexican girl. David’s cast a non-actor, 70% of the film is in Spanish. It’s a beautiful, beautiful film and it’s kind of a gift to be involved in it.

Q. You must be very happy with your career so far?
Abbie Cornish: Oh gosh, yes. Particularly in the last couple of years, it’s something I knew but it’s something that’s been imprinted a little more, which is just how important it is the people that you work with and the people you make films with. I feel blessed to have a career that’s creative, I feel blessed to have a career that I can travel with… I love the parallel between life and art and how as artists we’re able to live and breathe in that way. So, to be able to be doing it is a blessing.

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