This is a huge movie. What was the audition process like?
"Well, like everything in this industry, it's rush-rush-rush and then wait. I did the audition tape here in L.A. and obviously never expected Marty [Scorsese] to see it. Then we got a call saying that he wanted to see me read with Leo in New York. I was contracted with Pan Am, a show I was doing, and there was the fact that I didn't want to do nudity, so people were wondering why I even auditioned. But, then I got cleared at the eleventh hour."
It must be a weird position to be hoping for your show to be cancelled.
"It's funny because people assumed I was devastated when Pan Am got cancelled; I was, because I loved everyone, but at the same time I wouldn't have been able to do Wolf or About Time. I always tell myself that everything happens for a reason — if you don't tell yourself that, you'll go crazy."
You mentioned being cautious about doing nudity — what made you change your mind?
"It's funny, in hindsight, I really don't know why I had an issue with it. I mean, I see why I did, because the first time it seemed really intimidating. Now that I've done it, it doesn't seem like a big deal at all. Even back then, there was no question of why the character needed it. I see scripts that have nudity for the sake of nudity, and that I do not agree with ever. When the nudity is warranted I totally agree with it.
But, there's a difference in doing nudity in a sleazy way and doing it for a Martin Scorsese film…
"Exactly, which is the main reason why I did it. If there's ever a time to do nudity, it's in the hands of Martin Scorsese. He doesn't exploit nudity and he doesn't use it to just pick the pace up. So, I felt totally confident in the fact that it would be done well and done tastefully. It was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Yes, it was going to be intimidating, but not even so much on the day of shooting — it's more having it physically recorded forever. In the end, it was so worth doing to have the experience I had. And, everyone gets naked in the movie anyway, so it was a drop in the pond."
Was this your first time doing a New York accent? It was so specific.
"This is how specific I was hoping it to be: It was meant to be a Bay Ridge accent from the beginning, and then once they were living in Long Island I wanted it to have Long Island influences. But, I wanted her to have dulled down the Brooklyn part because she was aware that she was around people with a lot of money. But, something I realized when I moved to America is that when people get angry or upset, their original accents come out. So, I thought that when she's yelling the accent should really come out, which happens to be most of the scenes anyway."
Did you read the books prior to the movie? What was your initial impression of Jordan and his whole gang?
"My initial impression was that they were trying to live out a Scorsese film. They had watched Goodfellas and Casino and were trying to live out that life. Which made it all the more ironic for him to come in and make a movie out of Jordan's life."
As a woman, what are your thoughts on the way that Jordan treats women?
"The way I see it is it makes my character even more of a badass. That she can go toe-to-toe with the men in this world when so few other women can is incredible. There are a few women, like Jordan's assistant in the office, that are also badasses. Jonah's wife, too, when she comes in during the pool party scene and just beats him up. The women that are seen in the story are the ones that can go toe-to-toe with these guys. If you've got the balls to keep up with them in this completely hedonistic and misogynistic world that's pretty great."
Did you see Jordan as a pure villain, or did playing his wife cause you to sympathize with him at all?
"It's funny, because I met him before we started filming, and when I met him I somehow felt sorry for him. Which is really bizarre. What's really interesting is that when I met Nadine, who I played, one of the first things she asked when I said I'd met Jordan was 'Did you feel sorry for him?' And, I was like, yah, that's really weird you asked that, I actually did. She said that she always did, too. The thought had never really articulated itself, but once she said that, I realized it's exactly what I took away from meeting him. He seemed like a lost little boy who was making these mistakes and couldn't figure out why or what he was doing wrong. And, you wanted to point out to him why his life wasn't going right."
Did you find a way to sympathize with Nadine? And, did your opinion change at all after meeting her?
"Once I met her I totally saw that they generally were in love with each other and had a real relationship and marriage that just fell to pieces. That's kind of overlooked, as it needs to be, for the movie to move forward. I wasn't basing this character on her anyways; I was just taking aspects of her life. I wasn't trying to be her, per se. But, when I originally picked up the script, it was easy to look at her and think she's a gold digger. That the relationship had no substance and the character had no substance to her. But, once I started workshopping the role with Leo and Marty, we started building all these different dimensions for her. In the process I learned to love her and started to see things from a different perspective.
You didn't get to be in many of the party scenes, but what were they like to film?
"It's weird, because it's kind of like being at a party. There's music playing and people dancing and it goes for hours and hours. It's like being at a party that's three times as long — this goes for 18 hours. It's crazy, except you're sober so it's really hard to stay alert for all of it. I really like it and was so jealous that I didn't get to be in the party scenes. Sometimes I would get to go on set between fittings to see some of it, but oftentimes I would get so jealous. The next day I would be like, 'How was the party?' And they assured me that I didn't miss anything, but I knew they were lying."
How was the chemistry between you and Leo, especially given some of your violent fight scenes toward the end of Jordan and Naomi's marriage?
"It was really good, because the film went somewhat in chronological order, so it was great that we'd had so much time working together, and we'd done so much together by that stage that we were very comfortable together. And, it was at the tail end of shooting, and we were exhausted. It was almost a cathartic point of filming that we could just let it all out. But, it was so great to have a good working relationship with him because he's just so committed and there are no limitations when you work with him…he's just the perfect costar."