How did you know it was the right time to switch from more indie roles to larger franchise features?
“I just started to think, you know, Am I part of the conversation? I started talking with people about it and one person said... 'People aren’t going to know that you want to be a part of these larger films unless you say that you do.’ I was like, ‘That’s crazy. I grew up watching Indiana Jones and Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and Batman, and that would be amazing.' That would be my childhood dream to do something like this, or like The Avengers.
“I just started going to studios and having meetings with them, just to have them keep me in the back of their minds. Six months later, after meeting with Legendary [film studio], they called about Godzilla... Gareth [Edwards] and I both come from an independent world, and he’s a big fan of Martha Marcy May Marlene, so I kind of got lucky with that combo... It was a goal. I really want to be part of a group of actresses that get to have these opportunities. I wanted to seek that out, so I did.”
What was the hardest thing about making Godzilla? Any strange experiences reacting to CGI or a green screen?
“I didn’t have any green screen. I didn’t have to do so much of that because my character was so rooted in the family drama...in relationship to my son [in the movie] or to Aaron [Taylor-Johnson] or to my job as a nurse. Then I had a few scenes where it was responding to something that wasn’t there, but it wasn’t too crazy.
“You always end up responding to something that’s not there. It’s really fun to use your imagination, and also scary. You start to think, Okay, what would actually scare me to death? You start thinking, I’m looking at a tall building, and a sniper would scare me to death right now. I’ve never experienced war in my own country, and I’ve never been to a country that was experiencing war at that time, and that sounds absolutely terrifying to me. That’s how I think of it.”
Godzilla is a highly anticipated film for many people, but it also has a sort of nerdy stigma to it. Do you consider yourself a nerd?
“Yeah, I’ve always considered myself a nerd. I’ve never been such a huge film nerd, but maybe a theater nerd, an academic nerd. I actually really love the experience of playing something like a comic book character, because I do care about what the fans want. You should. The fans have been around far longer than I’ve been alive, so there’s kind of a responsibility there that I really love. I find it inspiring.
“For a film like this, I geeked out about it — that’s why I wanted to do it. Because when I met Gareth, he showed me a teaser of this film, and I was like, ‘That’s the best movie ever and you want me to be in it? Yeah!’... I love going to summer blockbuster films and I love this film. I loved watching it. You know, you go through such an emotional journey, you actually care. It’s crazy... That’s something that I feel like doesn’t happen a lot in blockbuster films.”
How do you uphold your responsibility to the fans?
“I have no control over story, but I have control over the image... It’s an extreme. So, if you’re playing the smallest form of that extreme, what can you keep that maybe really big fans would appreciate? And that people who don’t know the comics would just think that you created it... Just little details."
In the past, you’ve talked about enjoying the "anonymous factor" and your ability to fly under the radar. Now that you're more in the public eye, how do you plan to deal with the loss of anonymity?
“I haven’t experienced it yet. I was joking recently in an earlier interview, because I’d be like, ‘Maybe three more people have said something to me in the last week than usual.’ I just assume there’s some deal going on with Martha Marcy May Marlene because people are randomly seeing it three years later, but I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m just ignorant, living in bliss right now, knowing that no one’s bothering me. I don’t ask for it: I don’t tweet, I don’t Instagram, I don’t Facebook, I don’t connect to fans. That makes me uncomfortable.”
What about social media makes you uncomfortable?
“Some people are able to use it for their jobs in a very successful way. I like anonymity and I like privacy, and there’s nothing I really have to comment about the world that I believe is everyone’s knowledge. I don’t want to show photos of, like, what I’m reading today. I don’t know what people Instagram about — it’s probably all work-related and [to] help promote things, but even that — to me — is too intimate. I’d rather just do the job that is more behind-the-scenes than directly interacting, because then people assume you’re that accessible. It draws more attention to you, so I’d rather just not have to worry about it.”
“I didn’t get to work with him. I really just worked with Aaron and this kid, Carson [Bolde], who played my son. I’ve been able to work with Bryan just doing press stuff. I’m so excited when we get to do an interview together because he’s so much better at talking than any of us.”
I can see him being that way.
“Yeah, he’s phenomenal. You’re drawn to him. He has comedic timing, he has such a creative mind, he is so passionate, and he has a reason for doing every project... Being around Ken Watanabe and Bryan talking about this film is really inspiring for me.”
Had you seen Breaking Bad before filming?
“No, I’m like the only human on earth who hasn’t watched Breaking Bad. I’ve seen like three episodes, and one was from the first season, and the other two were the first episode from the last season and the last episode of everything.”
Yeah, it can be hard to get into if you’ve only seen episodes here and there.
“I want to get into it, but honestly, I’m into Game of Thrones, and that’s already a commitment.”
What do you think of Game of Thrones this season?
“It’s killing it. It’s unbelievable. I’m so excited families are about to reunite, and I’m just like… I think I had a really big epiphany about it the other day, because Dragon Lady [Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke], she’s got the most badass army, but they’re hanging out in Summerland, and we all know winter is coming, and I just had that realization that I don’t know if they know how to survive winter. They’re like, half-naked. They aren’t living the way Jon Snow is living, so something’s going to happen there. I’m convinced.”
Who’s your favorite person on Game of Thrones?
“Probably Dragon Lady. They’re all so hard to pronounce, so it’s like, Targaryen…Khaleesi...”
What’s the best lesson about working in the industry that you think you’ve learned from your sisters?
“Their ability to continue to work their asses off. They’re the hardest workers in the world, and so grounded — and very great at being able to be private... It’s something that’s hard to do. I’m still learning how to communicate in ways that protect me as well.”
Godzilla is in theaters May 16.