You and Daniel Radcliffe came up in the industry together. Was it nice to finally get to work with him?
"Well, kind of. He’s been doing it for a long time. I started at 16. I feel like he was already a pro by the time I even announced to my parents that I wanted to act."
How do you think he’s remained so well-adjusted?
"He’s so magical. It’s what makes him wonderful. He’s so positive, and so thankful for the experience of the Potter movies. He’s hungry to keep acting, to keep developing his skills, and keep pushing his boundaries to make these wonderful movies. He’s taking on really challenging characters. I think it’s such an exciting moment for him — especially this festival. I’m so proud of him! It’s been so great. I’m really excited for people to look at him, and to not see Harry Potter, because he is much more than that."
People will be taken aback by him in this role, definitely.
"Damn straight! It’s about time. I really didn’t know him from the Potter movies. I’ve seen one or two. I had seen Daniel in Equus, and that really left an impression on me. I thought it was such a brave performance — he must have been 19, or something, when he did that. The minute I got the opportunity to work with him, I jumped."
You’re on the journey to fame similar to Daniel. How do you deal with that?
"I don’t know. Maybe I’m naive to that? It’s so not something I am interested in."
But, aren’t you scared of one day having your anonymity robbed from you?
"Yes! I’m scared of doing any kind of franchise. There’s a time and a place for each individual. It could change overnight. I would definitely have to move if it happened that fast. I’ve got a readily available front porch.”
Let’s talk about the film. How did the script read on paper when you first received it?
"Well, it was filled with so many different moments; moments of fear, moments of psychological weirdness, moments of such utter sadness, and moments of romance. It’s exciting enough when you read a script that only has one of those elements, and you enjoy it. To have a script that’s filled with all those different things, and you really feel it, is special. I was so excited. Getting to work with Alexandre Aja, someone who’s made me laugh and be terrified, was great. I knew he could blend two genres together. When I met with him, he talked so intimately about love, and true love; love that could potentially be a lifelong love."
Do you believe in that kind of eternal love?
"Absolutely. I’m a hopeless romantic at heart. I was so invigorated by Aja’s words, and immediately wanted to be a part of the project. It’s such a great privilege to play a memory of the love of one’s life. I thought it was a fun challenge to not play a real person, but to just be a memory.”
You seem to be attracted to roles that are very far from who you are. Why is that?
"I like a challenge. I like to play girls I think are interesting, and have enough layers and substance."
Do you think there’s been a renaissance of strong female characters in cinema?
"I think there has been. I didn’t feel it as much this year. I felt it a lot last year, but I feel like independent films are becoming harder and harder to make. There are so many extraordinary young female actresses these days, women that are really pushing boundaries that I am in awe of. I love that. It’s a very exciting moment to be a part of."
Will you ever chuck a script after five pages because you know it sucks?
"Well, it depends on how busy you are. If you’re working back-to-back, and you read a script that you can’t connect with, you pass. If you’re not working — even if you’re completely wrong for the character, maybe you’re ten years too old, ten years too young — go in and audition for it. It’s so important to exercise your range, and to keep it alive. I think it’s important to do things you love even if you’re not right for it. It’s important to be in a room full of people. If you get to go meet a director, and hear what they have to say, then go for it. You’re never not learning.”
Do you have any aspirations to get behind the camera?
"Directing? No, I’ll leave that to my dad."
I read that when you were a child, your dad played you Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et La Bête. What else did he show you that helped shape you as an artist?
"Besides Jean Cocteau films, he introduced me to a lot of music. He showed me all of Hitchcock. I didn’t watch much Disney, but there were a lot of Tex Avery cartoons. Disney came when I was older — Beauty and The Beast was my favorite. I saw that in theaters with my godmother in L.A., but I had seen Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête. My dad’s an amazing person because he can turn the most mundane thing into a work of art. It’s something I feel so lucky to have grown up with."
What advice has an actor given you that's changed the way you approach your craft?
"Matthew McConaughey in Killer Joe really helped me. They were personal things, but he really gave me some great advice. He’s a person with extraordinary talent. He’s one of my favorite people I’ve ever worked with. He made a big impact on me. I’ve been so lucky to have worked with the kinds of people I’ve worked with. I take something away every time because it’s almost like going to drama school, but better."
Coming from the world of independent filmmaking, what was it like working on The Dark Knight Rises, and which do you prefer?
"I don’t think that’s a totally fair question as they’re totally different worlds, but I was wide-eyed on that set for sure. I’ve never been on a set like that in my life. But, at the same time, when you’re making a tiny independent film for half a million dollars or less, or a huge film for loads of money, it doesn’t matter the cost. What matters is the visionary mind behind it. That’s the key to me, connecting with the director. It’s so important to work with directors you’re going to learn from, no matter the size of the film."
What’s one quality you’ve noticed in all the directors you’ve loved working with?
"There’s a kind of nurturing side to all of them that I’ve really utilized. I like to play these challenging girls who are going through some weird, twisted things all the time — even if it’s just being a teenager. I’ve been able to trust all the directors I’ve worked with. It’s like having a family member watching out for you."
What do you like most about being on set?
"The most important thing to remember about making a film is that it’s make up of a huge unit of people. Being able to light a room and heighten people’s rage with lighting, or their sadness, is magical to me. Understanding the electricity, and the set decoration is so key. When you walk on a set, you’re taken to a magical world somewhere else other than yours. There’s amazing talent that goes into making movies on every single level. The director has to plant his vision, though. That way the whole team can work to make it happen in the mad sort of way movies come about."
Which is why there’s no such thing as a “bad” movie.
“Yes! I don’t think a movie can be 'bad.' It’s more thrilling to me to hate a movie than feel indifference. I want a movie to ignite something in me."
You’re something of a budding fashion icon. Talk to me about your personal style.
"I am a vintage junkie. All I do is thrift shop. I want to design lingerie, too. I’m a huge lingerie fan. I want to do a surrealist line inspired by Dali. If I’m shopping for myself, I really like to buy things second hand. I like finding things with stories. I’m a huge fan of the '70s, and '30s lingerie I like to wear as outerwear."
What’s the best city to go vintage shopping in?
"I have a great store next door to me in Loz Feliz. It’s called Squaresville. It’s one of my most favorite vintage stores in the entire universe. It’s like my second home. I can literally be in the middle of a place where I can’t pronounce the name and find something. I’m wearing a lot of Miu Miu, too. That's my favorite designer if I had to go put together something. I think it's really great for young women. The clothes allow girls to really express themselves. I feel like it really feeds into personalities. The clothes are so well made. They always make me feel good. I’m proud to be a women wearing them. They’re fun, and don’t make you feel like a grown up. I’m not ready for that yet."