Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. Was there an inkling that if you pulled this job off, this
could be the highlight of your acting career to date?
A. I knew that it was the kind of material that, if it was
done correctly, could be something incredibly interesting.
It was definitely the kind of story, first and foremost, that
I was interested in because I find it very rare that women get
to play really conflicted, flawed characters.
Those are usually the parts that De Niro gets to do, and Dustin
Hoffman, and when they do it, it's accepted and almost cool, yet
for some reason, women, when they do it, it's almost not encouraged
because it's almost uncomfortable to watch.
Before meeting Patty, I knew that if it were in the hands of some
young, 'let's do the MTV/lesbian/serial killer, pump the music,
sort of movie', it would be a disaster.
And so, meeting Patty was really important to me, and it was in
meeting her that I immediately wanted to do the film, because
it was really her vision and how she wanted to tell this story.
Patty and I always joke about this, because I think we both really
knew that it was the kind of thing that you either tap into and
want to do, that's not necessarily the thing that everyone's going
to tap into and want to see, that if we got it playing in one
art-house screen and eight people went to see it on the first
night, that would be really awesome [laughs].
And then it just became a personal journey for us. We believed
in the story and wanted to tell it truthfully and with integrity,
and I knew that being a part of something like that, as an actress,
with Patty, would definitely change things for me. Whether it
was going to win awards, you don't know, but I knew that I would
walk away from this definitely being challenged and changed, and
that I would grow as an actor.
Q. Were there any doubts that you wouldn't be able to pull
A. I drove Patty insane, because it was odd for me, as I had
never had a film-maker come to me and believe in me as much as
this woman did. It was amazing, and very strange, and I had to
get used to it, because I'm usually the one who has to go into
the room and prove myself, showing people that I'm willing to
You know, don't think of me as this celebrity walking down the
red carpet, that's not... I'm an actor, and there's a process
involved, and you have to sort of visualise it. And very few people
And the fact that Patty didn't ask any of that of me, and said
I want to make this movie with you, you're the only person who
can play Aileen Wuornos, was incredible.
But there were many times that I would call her at some crazy
hour in the night. I was filled with a lot of anxiety on this
I think the whole process of acting is a kind of discovery that
you go through. The entire time you're working on a film, you
don't ever get to the kind of place where you sit back and relax,
now I have it. But in this case, it was really heightened. Even
on the second to last day, I was still asking questions and discovering
things. I had many dreams of being replaced.
Yet she was incredible and understanding and nurturing through
all of that.
Q. Did anyone close to you advise you that there might be
dangers in taking the role?
A. No, so many people are using the word brave, in relation
to this role, but in so many ways I just feel extremely lucky,
because I think these are the kind of parts that women are dying
Actually, the actresses I'm talking to, I've received so many
great cards from actresses my age, who say 'god, we can't even
be jealous of you, but encouraged that hopefully someone will
look at us that way, and use us that way, too'.
So I think that so many actresses are really dying to find a film-maker
who can see them and utilise them in a different way than how
they've been used before.
When my manager read the script, she instantly said she thought
it was incredible, as this type of material doesn't come around
She had the same concern I was talking about earlier, in that
we didn't know Patty, who was a first-time director, but that
was the only concern, and that's why we immediately met with her,
and after that had happened, the two of us looked at each other
and went 'where do we sign'?
The fact that she believed in me, helped me to view it as a great
opportunity - as did my manager and a lot of people close to me.
Q. You've now played two real people back to back - Britt
Ekland and Aileen Wuornos - do you find it more useful to have
all that information that they are real people, or do you like
building a character from scratch?
A. Both, you know. I think at the end of the day, it's really
the story that counts. I've never walked around with this vision
in my head of the perfect part, this role I wish I could play.
It's great when you can read material and something that you never
really thought you would be playing can actually become a possibility.
The difference, for me, is that you have a much bigger responsibility
when it's a real-life character, because it is someone's life,
and whether they've done horrible things, it doesn't take away
from the fact that it is their life, and you have to respect that.
At the end of the day, it was very important for me and Patty
to be able to walk away from this film and have a clear conscience
and know that we told the truth and hadn't tried to manipulate
for the sake of a better movie, or embellish parts for more excitement.
We did it with integrity.
You don't have that when you're playing a fictional character.
I mean, you have it to a certain extent, because you have to make
Q. You put on 25 to 30 pounds for the role, what did you have
to do to put it on and how difficult was it to take it off?
A. It was quite a shock to me how people responded to all
of that stuff in the beginning, because I wasn't prepared for
But the interesting thing was that everything we did physically,
the way Patty and I approached it was never like making a little
list of things that we're going to do. It was so organic.
For some reason, because it's a real-life character and because
I had all these images of Aileen, I imagined that this would be
how I would find the character - from the outside in.
But when we started doing research, it really changed. We barely
talked about the physical aspects in the beginning, rather we
started doing research and taking road trips together and went
to places where Aileen lived, and hung out, and started reading
these letters that she wrote in the 12 years she was on Death
Row to a really good friend in Michigan. The more we got to know
her, emotionally, the more the physical stuff just came to happen.
Whenever we would read a scene through, things would just start
to happen to my body, and I realised that everything about her
physically was there because of the emotional stuff.
She didn't look the way she looked because she thought it was
cool; she looked that way because those were the consequences
of the life that she was leading. It was never that we thought
she was fat, or anything, but Patty and I read a letter where
we knew that she had a child when she was 13, and that she obviously
was homeless and didn't know where her next meal was coming from,
she'd never set foot into a gym. But she wrote in one letter that
even though she was a prostitute and pretty much did everything,
the one thing she never did was take her shirt off.
I remember Patty and I had gone what sort of mindset did you have
to be in to feel that way about your body, and so it just made
sense to me to get my body to a place where I tried tom imagine
what it would be like if I had to eat that way and live that way.
So, to answer your question, very much fun to put it on, and very
painful to lose.
Q. How did you bond with Christina Ricci?
A. It's really incredible that when the three of us got together,
there is a certain amount of respect that you have to just have
for other actors, and for how they want to go about finding their
characters and how they want to rehearse, even if it doesn't necessarily
work for you.
The three of us got together and were sitting in the basement
of my house. There was no plan, or anything, but we just started
talking, and three hours went by and we were still just talking
about these people, and this story and this life, and asking questions,
and reading scenes and discussing all of it.
We did three days of that and it was just the most incredible
rehearsal process I have ever had, because that was what the three
of us really wanted to do. It was great to be able to work together,
very similarly, towards this sort of stuff.
I love that stuff, trying to find the puzzle and piece it together.
Q. Congratulations on the Oscar. What went through your mind
when Adrien Brody read out your name?
A. That I'm going to have to make out with him! With the other
award shows, I thought maybe it would be easier as I'd had a little
bit of practice, but it's just never... This whole experience
has been such a surprise. Patty and I have had a lot of 'oh my
God' moments. It's just so unbelievable and unexpected.
We really just went to have a good night because you just don't
know what's going to happen. And when it did happen, I was just
a mess. I didn't know how to get on stage, and I didn't know what
I was saying until I actually heard it, and I'm not a really good
speaker in front of a lot of people; English becomes a fourth
language and I get hives.
So it's incredible but at the same time nerve-wracking.
Q. You said that you're against capital punishment, so what
do you feel would have been the ideal punishment for Aileen? And
did you have a private mantra that you said to yourself before
the more difficult takes?
A. No, for both of us, whenever I had a question for Patty,
the one thing she always said was that we just have to stick to
the truth. And that was really incredible, because she was really
up against a lot.
Patty really stuck to the story she wanted to tell.
The thing I loved about making the film with Patty is that, for
the first-time, I really truly felt like I was in a partnership.
That the two of us were going to stick together, no matter what,
and to have that sort of trust in someone was really incredible.
So whatever the situation was, or however hard it was, the two
of us were together.
That didn't mean that we were taking it easy on each other. There
were a lot of times that some of the scenes were extremely hard
for me to do, as we had 28 days to complete the shoot, and exhaustion
played a huge part, and I'd be lying on the ground and she'd come
up to me and say 'babe, I'm sorry, but we're going to have to
do it again'.
But that's what you want. At the end of the day, you want someone
you can trust, who's not going to settle for mediocre, but someone
who is constantly going to keep pushing you.
But to answer your question, the only thing we wanted to keep
in mind was Aileen and her victims, the people who were a part
of the story. To not make any decision without keeping them in
As for what I would have liked to see happen to Aileen, that's
difficult, because I don't have the perfect answer.
What Aileen's story represented to me, was that it opens the idea
that if we actually took the time, to look at how these things
happen, then maybe that way we can stop them.
Because I think what we're doing now is just dealing with the
consequences, and I think that there's actually a way to look
at someone like Aileen, who's not a solitary case; there's so
many people out there who live these desperate lives, and through
their circumstances get pushed into a corner and make these really
terrible decisions. That was why I wanted to tell this story,
cos I think that if we can get to a place where we realise that
the death penalty isn't working, and come up with a different
way of stopping these things from happening, that could maybe
Q. Do you find yourself staying in character?
A. No, I can't. It's almost impossible to explain the sort
of situation to explain what it was like shooting this movie,
because we had a great time. People kind of go, 'that doesn't
sound very nice'.
But all of us worked so close, it became such an intimate set,
and the calibre of people who came on board.
I find that I'm much more effective if I can actually take a break
from it, emotionally, and come back to it. Other times, it is
easier to stay in it. And Patty was good at being able to read
that. But most of the time, I fairly desperately need to have
a laugh, to get out of it and clear my head, completely. And it
was great, because people could kind of sense those sort of things
- when you need to be left alone, or need some humour to lift
you a bit.
Q. What ambitions do you have left?
A. To work with Patty Jenkins again. At the end of the day,
it's been an incredible honour, but there's never the guarantee
of those sorts of things. I feel extremely lucky to have met Patty
and to have been a part of her first film, and know she is going
to turn into an incredible director. I just hope that she will
give me another job.