The Infiltrator - Juliet Aubrey interview (exclusive)
Interview by Rob Carnevale
JULIET Aubrey talks about the appeal of playing Bryan Cranston’s wife in real life crime drama The Infiltrator and how talking to the woman she was playing also helped get into character.
She also talks about her love of Italy, the forthcoming TV remake of Snatch and her work with the charity Women for Women International.
Q. So, what was the appeal of The Infiltrator?
Juliet Aubrey: I just thought it was such a great script when it came through. I remember that I really wanted to have a great script come through at that time and it did. Then, I went and met with Brad [Furman, the director] and we chatted about the story, the background and Robert Mazur. There was so much to talk about – not least the fact that it was based on a true story, which is great. I love true stories. And Robert was there all the time with his wife, which was quite interesting.
Q. Was that daunting for you?
Juliet Aubrey: No, not really. If anything, there were probably times when it was hard for her. It was quite an ordeal for her family to experience, not least because of the dangers to their kids and the fact that her husband had to have a fake fiancée. It was a massively big deal in their lives. But she wanted to watch it all. This was a beautifully collaborative piece. We had Brad, the director, and his mum, Ellen, who had written the script. She is an amazing woman. So, there were always a lot of people around the monitor because everyone was always there, all of the time.
Q. How was working with Bryan Cranston?
Juliet Aubrey: Well, a lot of our stuff at home was improvised. We played around with it and developed it. His base was also in theatre, like my own, so we had a really good understanding and a quick way of working with each other.
Q. What was your first meeting like?
Juliet Aubrey: Well, our first meeting was literally before we were about to go on-screen. I turned up and there he was. We were like “Hi” and then we were on-set instantly. it’s the weird and wonderful world of film.
Q. So there was nothing like a chemistry test?
Juliet Aubrey: No, but Brad is pretty sure of what he was looking for and Gail Stevens, the British casting director, did a great job of finding all those characters. There are some really interesting actors on this film – not people you instantly recognise or know, but really good people. I think Gail did an excellent job with that.
Q. John Leguizamo would fit that bracket. He’s so charismatic and such a livewire whenever you see him in a film. What was he like on-set?
Juliet Aubrey: He is really charismatic and wonderfully inventive as an actor. He’s great fun to work with. He also has a very creative process. He also does a lot of one-man shows and when we were in London, he performed at Soho Theatre – a piece he’d just begun to devise. It was brilliant. And he continued performing it in Tampa, Florida,. He is a very clever man. But then the whole cast was great. Amy Ryan was also wonderful.
Q. What kind of things did you ask Evelyn Mazur?
Juliet Aubrey: Well, she was always in my trailer. We spoke a lot about what it was like to be married to someone who has a very dangerous job. Robert was off undercover for long periods of time. This case lasted over a period of three to four years and he would sometimes be gone for months at a time. So, she had to bring up the kids at home, alone. But then he came back and everything changed again. She plays it down, and she says she was never that scared. But there were death threats, and they were often being followed and having to duck down in the back of their car.
Q. Did the bloody gift from Pablo Escobar really turn up?
Juliet Aubrey: I’m not sure. But there were similar things.
Q. How was shooting a scene like that, especially given that there are kids involved?
Juliet Aubrey: The kids were great. The were really strong and brave. But that’s the thing with my character… as soon as the kids become involved, that’s when she’s had enough and she asks him to leave because he’s crossed the line when it starts to affect the kids. But the kids were great. They were so very natural. I remember the scene with the box… it was literally dripping. But she played it so innocently, because she didn’t really know what it was – the same as her character. But she had that wonderful curiosity you get with children, which can also be quite dangerous too.
Q. What are you doing next?
Juliet Aubrey: At the moment I’m doing a new TV series in Manchester called Snatch, which is based on the Guy Ritchie film.
Q. And who do you play in it?
Juliet Aubrey: I play Lillie, who is Albert’s mum and Vic’s wife. She’s a florist from the East End. She is heavily involved in the gangster world and she’s also half Italian. I started filming today.
Q. How closely does it follow the film? Or does it go off and do its own thing?
Juliet Aubrey: Well, the scripts, by Alex De Rakoff, are great. But, yes, it does it’s own thing. It’s based on Snatch but it has its own freedom. And given that it’s a TV series, the characters get a little more time to be developed. My favourite medium is film and theatre but when something comes along like this, for TV, it can be incredible.
Q. And I guess being half-Italian enabled you to indulge your love for Italy. It’s where you started your career, isn’t it?
Juliet Aubrey: It did. I speak Italian. Quite early on, I made two films in Italy, the first of which was Look to the Sky, by Roberto Faenza, the director, and it was set in a Nazi Holocaust Concentration Camp. But, yes, I lived in Naples while studying archaeology, and I picked up loads of Italian. And then by chance I have since worked on three films with Italian directors. But I’ve kept up my passion for Italy ever since. I have lots of friends in Italy too. So, I’m going to be shooting a bit of that into Lillie too.
Q. What do you love about Italy so much?
Juliet Aubrey: I love the language… and the food… It’s amazing. I had such a great time living there because I was only 19 and at university. I sang in bars and did things I never would have done in London at the time. I think living in a new country gives you a certain bravery that you don’t have when you live in your own country – because of the freedom it gives you. And I think speaking Italian affects your whole body movement. It’s so musical and animated and passionate.
Q. You’re also involved in the Women for Women International charity, which supports women suffering from violence in war and conflict zones. Do you have anything you’re about to do for them? I know you’ve previously run marathons and rowed for them?
Juliet Aubrey: At the moment, Brita, who is the UK director, and myself are about to launch a new campaign. It’s called a sister’s campaign and the idea is that you find a sister in one of the war-torn countries and have communication with them, so all women are sisters. It’s a new campaign, so we’re trying to raise awareness and funds.
I will also be doing the [London] Marathon next year. I had a bit of a knee injury recently but recently went running in the Austrian Alps and it was alright. So, I’ve started training for the marathon next year. In fact, I trained all of the way through winter for last year’s London Marathon but then The Infiltrator came along and the [shooting] dates in Florida were over that April weekend. And we couldn’t change the dates. But I didn’t want to lose the role. So, that was kind of heart-wrenching at the time because I’d literally trained with all of those long weekend runs and was ready to go fitness-wise. So, I’m really keen to do it again – especially the London Marathon because London is my home-town.
Q. How do you think the charity is doing in terms of awareness?
Juliet Aubrey: It’s doing incredibly well, I think. The way to assess it is to see how much benefit the women in these countries are getting from the year-long training programmes they go on. The aim is that, by the end of the year, they become economically self-sufficient and able to set up a business on their own. There’s no more support after that – but the results are phenomenal. But it definitely needs more funding and support. The sisters campaign is easy to do – if you go onto the website, you can set up a monthly payment of £20 and sponsor a sister in one of the war-torn countries. But we’re also reaching out to men, to give them an idea of how to help and become more aware of women’s needs. In some of the countries, women are not allowed to even leave the house. And that’s something that needs to change. So, raising awareness among both sexes is key to that.
Q. Finally, what did winning a BAFTA for Middlemarch mean to you?
Juliet Aubrey: I felt so lucky. I couldn’t believe it. It was like a dream. It was so amazing to be awarded like that and to have that work recognised in that way. Yeah, it’s an incredible memory for me.