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Solaris - Natascha McElhone Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

NATASCHA McElhone has previously starred alongside the likes of Jim Carrey (in The Truman Show), Brad Pitt (The Devil's Own) and Anthony Hopkins (Surviving Picasso); now she is appearing with the 'dream' partnership of George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh. At the London press conference for Solaris, she told Indielondon what it was like working with them...

Q. Perhaps you can take us through the process that you went through to persuade these gentlemen that you should be their leading lady?
A. I did the normal routes really. George was shooting Confessions of a Dangerous Mind in Canada and Steven was there as well and I went to meet them both, which was great. George very kindly got his assistant to call me when I arrived and told me to come down to the set, which, of course, I was 'no, no, no, you're shooting a movie, that's fine, I'll be in and out'.
But he insisted and so I came and met him and he explained that it is always awful meeting someone for the first time and playing a scene with them; so it kind of took the edge off the whole thing. It was unbelievably kind, generous and insightful of him.

Q. What was it like working with them on-set?
A. It was great and actually really inclusive. I guess the sort of presumption would be that because they work together and have a production company together, it would be that team and everyone else, but it's not like that at all. They were very generous and inclusive; I never felt like the outsider.
Also, they really bounce off of one another, so to speak, like last night at The Guardian Q&A, they just compliment one another's stories. They're completely different people... There's just this sort of very relaxing environment that Steven creates on a film set, however nervous that Steven says that he is, in hindsight, at the time, you're really not aware of that.
And George as well, he's always sort of fooling around and making everyone laugh and putting everyone before himself, which is quite un-actorly. What can I say? I can only get mushy and embarrassing...

Q. What are your belief systems?
A. I'm not religious; I was as a child, but I also feel that organised religion causes far more problems than it has solved. In terms of Solaris, I didn't really think about the religious aspects an awful lot. I mean, there's one scene where there's a dinner party and it's discussed, but it wasn't an overwhelming theme for me in the movie.

Q. Have you ever experienced the type of love like the one depicted in the movie?
A: That's a very destructive love, for the woman in the movie anyway. Her whole identity was kind of based upon, you know, she fell apart because she didn't have the love of this man. So, no, I haven't experienced that.

The same question was asked of Soderbergh, who replied: As Natascha was saying, have I ever experienced the kind of love that would lead me to that kind of self-destructive act, were it to not be reciprocated, no, I don't think so. But I guess I define it by meaning it being when you place somebody in front of yourself, when you place somebody else's feelings and wellbeing in front of your own, and I've been fortunate to have that happen, I hope everybody's had that...

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