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Sucker Punch – Emily Browning interview

Emily Browning in Sucker Punch

Interview by Rob Carnevale

EMILY Browning talks about working with Zack Snyder and impressing her brothers on Sucker Punch and getting to grips with the physical challenge of the shoot.

She also talks about what the film says about female sexuality and why her next film, Sleeping Beauty, is not an update of the classic children’s fairytale but something much darker…

Q. So, what’s the dumbest question you’ve been asked so far on this junket?
Emily Browning: In the last interview, it was: “Do we not see you dance in the film because you can’t dance?” [Laughs] Also, I get nearly every interview: “So, do blondes really have more fun?” I’m like come on…

Q. How much fun did you have shooting this movie – an action movie for girls?
Emily Browning: For me, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had working on a film set. Not only was it amazing to work with Zack and to work in such an imaginative world and the action and the training, but we just made such good friendships on this film.

Q. How much did you have to imagine during the fantasy sequences where you get to kick ass? Or how much was physically there?
Emily Browning: Well, thankfully we didn’t have to imagine too much because only probably about 20% of the film was green screen and that was mostly within the robot world. The sets were built within these green screen worlds. But even in the robot world we were fighting real people, but they were in sort of green suits. So, we never really had to fight against something that wasn’t there, which was really great. We were always reacting to actual humans. But then even with the green screen elements, Zack had so many images that he showed us before. DJ, who did the special effects, always showed us the pre-visualisation, which is sort of like a little mock-up of what the scenes are going to look like. So, we were sort of in the world and we knew exactly what was going on.

Q. Is this film really the fantasy of a young girl?
Emily Browning: I think that idea that girls fantasise about Barbie and having a husband… that’s so something that society puts onto us to sell pink toys! When I was three-years-old I told my mum that I wanted to be a truck driver. You know, I used to play with guns with my brothers and play catch the flag and go paintballing… so, this is totally a girl fantasy to me. And the fact that we’re wearing awesome outfits at the same time just makes it like ideal girl superhero. It’s so something I would imagine.

Sucker Punch

Q. So, what do your brothers think of you getting to play with guns now?
Emily Browning: They finally think I’m a little bit cool! My whole life they’ve just been like: “I don’t care that you’re in a movie! You’re an idiot… go home!” They’re 16 and 14, so they’re sarcastic teenagers. They were like: “Whatever! I don’t care!” But I brought them to set when I was filming the samurai world and they were like: “Yeah, alright, this is pretty awesome. We’ll give you this one.” I think they’re going to come to the Australian premiere, so they’re pretty excited. And they told me the next day after they came to the set that they wanted to be directors like Zack. I thought that was pretty sweet. But Zack’s an incredible role model for them. He was playing football with them.

Q. The decision not to show the dance is kind of inspired because it can never be deconstructed or criticised or anything… it’s left to the imagination…
Emily Browning: Good answer! That’s how I’m going to answer the question from now on.

Q. But when you read the script did you think, ‘oh shit!’?
Emily Browning: No, maybe when I read the first fight scene I was like: “Oh God, am I going to have to do a ridiculous, crazy dance?” But I think it was pretty clear afterwards [laughs]! There was a moment of fear, but then once I really got into the action I realised that the action represents the dancing – and thank God because that would have been abysmal. That would have been hilarious – me trying to dance!

Q. You mentioned how much training you did beforehand, so have you managed to keep up any of that?
Emily Browning: For me, I never worked out before this film. It’s just not something that I ever did. You know, I sort of became addicted to that adrenaline – not even in a physical sense, but just waking up it clears your head so much and makes me feel happier generally. So, when I’m in Australia I work out with a trainer five days a week, for half an hour.

Q. How was playing with your sex appeal?
Emily Browning: I feel like for me, for Baby Doll, for the scenes within the brothel I think she needed to be very unaware of her sexuality. I don’t think it was something that in that world she was in control of and it was something that had maybe always freaked her out a little bit because it had been something that was used against her in terms of just being confined in the brothel. I mean, I think it’s pretty clear at the beginning of the film that there’s something dodgy going on with the step-father.

So, it was actually more in the fighting scenes where I felt as though that was her, in a very small way, grasping her own sexuality to some degree and feeling powerful. That was when I felt the most sexy; within the brothel I always felt kind of a little bit freaked out by those costumes and a little bit like that was someone else deciding what she was going to represent, whereas, in the fight world I felt as though she was in control of it.

Sucker Punch

Q. You’re next in Sleeping Beauty. Can you tell us a little about that?
Emily Browning: Sure, it’s a film by a woman called Julia Leigh, she’s an author and this is the first script that she wrote. It was on the black list. She is being mentored by Jane Campion, which was kind of amazing. Jane Campion sort of oversaw the whole process. And it’s about a girl who is sort of going through her life just living and letting things happen to her. But she falls into this really niche area of prostitution where she is drugged willingly and while she sleeps people do things to her. It’s a nice family film [laughs]!

Q. So, is it raunchy?
Emily Browning: I don’t know if raunchy is the word. It has a lot of nudity but it’s not sexy nudity; it’s kind of disturbing nudity, generally. It’s the antithesis of this because there’s nothing polished or cool about the sexuality. It’s pretty raw.

Q. The name brings to mind the fairytale…
Emily Browning: I know, it’s been a little tough because people come up to me and say: “Finally, a film that my six-year-old daughter can watch!” No…. not really!

Q. Finally?
Emily Browning: Well, all of my films… even the kids’ films that I’ve done have been dark. So, I think people have assumed that I’m finally doing a film that their youngest daughter can watch. I’m like: “Well…”

Q. Why has she opted for that name?
Emily Browning: Well, it does loosely follow that narrative of Sleeping Beauty – the idea of the untouchable kind of princess. There are a lot of sleeping scenes and it is kind of her awaking from that rest in a way, which is strange.

Q. Is becoming a movie star something you always dreamt of?
Emily Browning: No, for me I sort of fell into this pretty naturally. I used to do school plays when I was younger and someone asked me to audition for a film. So, it happened like that. But for me I’ve always been very aware of the difference between movie star and actor. I want to be an actor – that’s what I want to do and I know that the movie star element has to be there to some degree, so that you have the freedom of choice to make films that you want to make. But that idea of movie star still freaks me out.

Read our review of Sucker Punch

Read our interview with Jena Malone