In Byzantium, your character uses a lot of sexuality and intensity to get her own way. Was that her antiquated view of a woman's options in the world (as opposed to Eleanor, who was much more upfront and honest), or do you think that is still a reality which women have to face?
“No, they don’t. They don’t have to do that at all. She does it because it’s what she knows; it’s her best trick. She knows how to manipulate men sexually. It was just something I decided was her strongest weapon. I think there are definitely women out there who use their sexuality to get what they want, but I don’t think it’s the way. I think having a brain is the best.”
Not to go back in time, but we have to ask: The sexual tension between you and Jake Gyllenhaal in Prince Of Persia was palpable. How was it working with him? How did you guys develop chemistry?
“Yeah, actually the last time I was in New York, we went for dinner. We hadn’t seen each other in a couple of years because he’s been away, and I’ve been away. I was so young when that filmed — 20 or 21. It was a strange time. It was quite a hard movie to make for the both of us, but since then we’ve been getting on really well. He’s just a really lovely guy. He’s very giving. I think he’s a proper actor. He was really sweet.”
What did you learn from him?
“Resilience. I think he’s very resilient, and detailed. Everything matters to him. He’s very attentive. He really takes everything into his own. He’s very responsible, and makes sure everything is right. I tend to be all over the place, and hippie-like, but he always stressed being attentive.”
Does this “hippie” kind of work ethic carry through into your personal style?
“No, I’m not hippie in personal style, but I guess I’m sort of airy. I tend to go with the flow a lot. Sometimes I can be a bit passive. I’m a bit of a contradiction: I’m passive, but very fiery. I started off in the theater, and I’m used to being more actor-y. Film is a lot different, there’s a lot more ego involved. Theater is about doing the right thing and having fun. It’s been a process finding out how it all works.”
Would you ever go back to theater?
“I always want to go back. I’ve always got my finger in the pies. I’m hopefully doing a musical next year, and also a play. I’ve tried to do a play every year, but you have to really, really commit to it. It’s quite hard. For me, my heart is in theater. I’ll always be primarily a theater actor. Film, this is what I’m doing for the moment. I’m doing it because I can, and the opportunities are there, but the theater is where I feel the happiest. My dream is to own my own theater. Ever since I moved to London, I found this theater that’s derelict in South London. I want to buy it and make it into my own theater. That’s my ultimate goal. I think I’m going to do it. I’ve got this feeling I’m going to do it. I want to be the head of my own theater and be an artistic director. That won’t be for a long time, though. I’ve got to finish all this film stuff.”
Photo: Courtesy of Patrick Redmond/IFC Films.
So if a musical is in the future, do you sing? What’s your favorite karaoke song?
“I’m a massive karaoke fan. That’s a hard one because I’ve got a huge repertoire. Usually, someone puts me on the spot and demands I sing something. If I had to choose, I’d do either Bonnie Tyler’s "Total Eclipse of The Heart," or Sinead O'Connor’s "Nothing Compares To You," but that’s more of a downer. That’s more of when everyone’s gone out for a cigarette and I’m up there on my own.”
What’s your go-to product to keep your skin looking so great?
“I use collagen cream. This is a really recent thing, like in the last six months. My facialist told me that when you’re around 25, you stop making collagen — or the production slows down. Collagen is what keeps your skin plump. I use this cream that’s pure collagen, like a sea-based collagen, and I put it on. It’s like food! And almond oil, I love that stuff. I learned that secret from Lady Gaga. I thought, ‘If Lady Gaga can do it, I can do it.”
Are you friends with her?!
“No, I wish! I’ve never met her.”
What do you carry in your bag at all times?
“Oh, I always carry my notebook. I’m a real writer. I like to write down everything. I also draw as well, so I always have it with me.”
Alright, final question: If Clara took on one of the Twilight vampires, who would win? Why?
“I have no idea! I’m going to say Clara because I’ve seen Twilight. She’s got the power of sexuality.”