A/V Room









The Bourne Supremacy - Joan Allen Q&A

Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. You play a CIA officer in the movie, do you think people are more cynical about government agencies now?
I think people are more aware now. There's a lot of stuff going on in the world and so the film kind of fits in with what's happening in real life. These are complicated, tough times.

Q. Has the CIA changed though?
It's opening up. It reminds me a little of the time of Nixon and Watergate, it was like a change in the country, because up until then, people wanted to be more blindly led and not get all the details. But after Watergate, people were like, 'We want to know what's going on in our country, and what sort of decisions are being made', and it seems somewhat similar today with the CIA.
We want to know what's going on. I think, with technology and the access to information we have, that people don't want to be led blindly.

Q. Is the CIA in the film more efficient than the real one?
Well, it is an incredibly complicated job, and now the enemy is more abstract and vague than it ever has been before, and we're not used to terrorism in the States.
Europe and other places have had a lot of it in their history, but it's a new thing for this country and we are such a huge country. That's a big challenge to stay on top of everything that's going on here. Then, there's human fallibility and corruption. There are so many elements.

Q. Did you do a lot of research for the role?
I didn't because I got cast very close to when shooting started, so I didn't have time. I did meet with somebody who had been in the CIA, and I did some reading and the director, Paul Greengrass, was very helpful.
I was interested in what sort of person does this work, and what it's like to be a woman in this world, more general stuff than specifics about missions. You have to have a lot of different skills. Languages are important obviously. But the gentleman I spoke to said that it can be very boring work.
You're waiting for something to happen and nothing might happen. You have to sit and wait around a lot. I read Stella's Rimington's autobiography and I found that really interesting. How she got involved in that work and what sort of characteristics are helpful for this kind of work.

Q. You got an Oscar nomination for The Contender, but you haven't been seen in much since then?
Well, I was producing a film, so I was focusing on that, but it wasn't like there were tons and tons of offers coming in at the same time. I went for almost a year and half without working. But then I got this independent film, Off The Map, and went from that to The Notebook, then a Sally Potter film, called Yes, and then stayed in London to do this film, called The Upside Of Anger, with Kevin Costner and then did The Bourne Supremacy.
So, I've been working non-stop for almost two years. But before that I was looking for a job.

Q. Are you difficult to cast because you specialise in intelligent, older woman?
I think it's hard and age definitely has something to do with it. If you look at the people who benefit from awards, it tends to be men, or younger women. Look at Frances Mcdormand. She was great in Fargo, and won the Oscar, but she did a kids film after that.
It's like they didn't know what to do with her. There's not a lot of material out there for women of a certain age.

Q. So what keeps you going?
Well, it's what I know how to do, it's what I'm trained to do. But as tough as it can be, and when you're working, you're away from home, so I don't get to see my daughter, it does afford a nice lifestyle. You work intensely for a few months, and then you can have a couple of months off. I like that balance. But I've done some great roles recently, so I feel great at the moment.

Q. Did you get to see much of Berlin and Moscow while you were making The Bourne Supremacy?
I try and see and much as I can. Being a mother, they try and condense my schedule, so that when I'm on location I'm working as much as possible so I don't have to hang around too much.
But I had days off here and there, and explored the cities a bit. I do a lot of walking and got to a few museums. Last year, I spent six months in London. I lived in an apartment, in the East End, for the Sally Potter film and I loved that, and then I lived in Notting Hill Gate for the other film.
So it was two different experiences and I did go to the grocery store and all that, so you get to see what it's like to live there. I ate a lot of Indian food in the East End.

Q. How did you get into acting?
When I was at High School, in Rochelle, a small town in Illinois. I auditioned for a play and I seemed to have an affinity for it. It seemed to be natural, a good fit for me.

Q. Are you the hometown heroine?
I am. It's a tiny place, there are only 8,000 people who live there. I was there for the 4th of July parade this year. But people from the mid-West are kind of reserved, so they say, 'Hi', and that's about it.

Q. Would you like to be more famous?
I feel like I've got a great life. I live a very conventional, normal life in New York, and I'm on the subway all the time. I'm a real, regular mom. It's nice, because sometimes people will say, 'Loved you in that movie', but that's it. New Yorkers are very cool.

Q. You were part of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, in Chicago, with John Malkovich and Gary Sinise, are still in touch with them?
Yes. I haven't done a play for a really long time, but I stay in touch with them. I always go to the annual Gala and we meet for dinner when we can.

Q. You've been nominated for three Oscars, do you want to win one day?
My life won't be complete until I do. No, it would be nice, but it won't make or break me. When you look at the list of people who've never won, like Scorsese, it seems a little strange. It doesn't drive me, but it would definitely be nice. I wouldn't say, 'No'.

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