Morvern Callar - Samantha Morton Q&A

Q&A by Tom Dawson

What impressed you the most about the book which is what Lynne Ramsay originally sent you rather than a script?

"The story first of all - just what Morvern does and how she goes about it. Myself and a lot of my friends couldn't believe that a man [Alan Warner] had written it, because it was so close to getting inside a woman's head, and all the detail to do with that. Also Morvern seems so ordinary and so often characters in books and films are made to be extraordinary in some way - they have a disability or they are fucked up. Morvern to me seemed quite normal."

Was it hard to play such an other-worldly character in Morvern Callar?

"It wasn't a pre-meditated performance. Not that it wasn't thought through. But it isn't hard because you just see it there and you are it. Lynne doesn't like to infringe on your acting or your space to perform. It's not improvisation but she doesn't want to overload you with the technicalities of the shot or the sound, whereas a lot of other film-makers do. She gave me a freedom to express my capabilities. I've had to do certain performances in a certain position for the light or I've been given a mark without any discussion of where I think my character should be within this space. Over the years I've gotten so use to compromising."

So did you find that working on Morvern Callar was much more of creative collaboration than working on other films?

"To me it felt like that. It was wonderful for me to make somebody happy, give them what they wanted, and yet not feel restricted in my own head. There's a fine line between succumbing to somebody else's vision and feeling you can't do anything than be a pawn in their game of chess, and satisfying yourself as well. That's a great thing to achieve."

Lynne Ramsay said that you brought an aspect of Joan of Arc to your performance.

"I was so obsessed with Morvern not being quirky, and not having an agenda behind everything. Everything she did, she did in the moment. If you look at the story of Joan of Arc, you get the feeling that she was a very ordinary girl, who would get an idea and who couldn't explain why she had to do things. I tried to make Morvern special without overemphasising the fact that she was special."

Do you think that it's love for her dead boyfriend that propels Morvern's actions, or that she's more motivated by anger or grief?

"I haven't got a clue. I didn't analyse Morvern, I'm not a psychoanalyst. It's not my job, I don't try and figure out what she does beforehand, I just do it and then walk away and leave it up to critics to think why she does what she does. When I get a script I see everything in my head, and that's what I go and perform, so I don¹t know why my characters do what they do."

As preparation for the role did you immerse yourself in advance in the music that Morvern listens to on her headphones throughout the film?

"I did, but it wasn't just about me getting into the character, it's because I like music as well."

Have you been receiving many more scripts since Minority Report?

"Not really. I've often been offered Hollywood films in the past, like X-Men, and sometimes it's quite tempting. At the moment I've not worked for a year. The last thing I shot was East of Harlem, it's now called In America, which is directed by Jim Sheridan, and which is about his early life in New York .
I start shooting with Michael Winterbottom on November 16th in a film called Code 46. I don't actually know what it's about - they're still casting. I actually worked with Michael when I was 14. I had a walk-on TV part in Boon."

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