Thursday, July 9, 2009

Juno Temple

Tuesdays's casting news on St Trinians reminded Screenterrier of the wonder that is Juno Temple (represented by Troika). No longer quite a teen actor as she's just turned 20, but she has made her name playing troubled teens.

Juno has five new feature films to be shown this year and the next - including the historical-drama-thriller Glorious 39 (with Romola Garai), Cracks (with Eva Green) and Noah Baumbach's latest feature, Greenberg.

She was heavily wigged in The Other Boleyn Girl and to play Atonement's troubled Lola Quincey, the cousin whose sexual assault sets in train the story's cataclysmic events, she agreed to have her phantasmagorical hair dyed ginger.

More importantly (and more challengingly), she learnt to trammel her own emotions, the better to track Lola's journey from abused teenager to spouse of said abuser. 'It was a sad, sad tale wasn't it?' Temple reflects. 'She was a confused, desperate little being. She was going to do whatever the hell she wanted to get her happy ending.'

She talks of the lessons she absorbed while shooting. 'It was my second film and I had to be very emotional. I hadn't worked out how to make myself emotional then be able to turn it off,' she says. 'So I'd work myself into a state, do the scene for an hour, then be hysterical for two hours afterwards. And I remember [the director] Joe [Wright] taking me aside and just saying, "You have to remember you're playing a character. This cannot affect Juno. It can a little bit - but it's Lola that's f***ed up and upset right now. Not Juno." And being told that changed everything for me.'

Still, in her debut proper, Richard Eyre's Notes on a Scandal (2006), a part she secured when she was 15 and filmed when she was 16, she more than held her own playing the surly, bad-mannered, troubled daughter of the teacher (Cate Blanchett) having an affair with one of her pupils. Acting alongside such heavyweights as Blanchett, Judi Dench and Bill Nighy was 'terrifying', she admits. 'What am I doing here?' But her co-stars 'were very inspirational people'.

'She was very self-possessed, and obviously fantastically well brought up,' Eyre recalls, adding that when he met her he had no idea that she was the daughter of director Julien Temple and his producer wife Alison. 'Perfect manners. Listens to other people. That's always impressive and unusual in a 15-year-old. And intelligent and very droll, with such a grace about her.'

On her next film, being the daughter of a punk was a boon: she was Celia the druggy bad girl in last year's St Trinian's remake. 'Sneeze and you'll miss me,' she shrugs, adding that she shot quite a few more scenes than made it into the finished film. 'But they all involved drug-taking. They couldn't show those because it was a PG12 or whatever - it was for young girls so they had to cut those scenes. Which I understand and think, "cool".'

In Wild Child, is a Working Title teen movie about a Malibu rich kid who pitches up at an archetypal English girls' boarding school. Temple played Drippy, a slightly spacey pupil with a fondness for Wagon Wheels. 'I can't stand Wagon Wheels!' she says of the biscuit she was required to snack on in take after take. 'I had a spit bucket.'

She wasn't born in America - 'wish I had been, would have been much easier now!' she jokes, referring to the frequency with which her fast-rising career demands that she be in America - but spent her first four years in Los Angeles, where her father's career had taken him. The family then moved back to Britain, living in a 'beautiful, exquisite', 500-year-old farmhouse in Somerset. It sounds idyllic: her father is a keen gardener, 'so we had an Alice in Wonderland garden'. Plus, it was very handily located for Glastonbury.

The previous night Temple had been in the Groucho Club with her father, and he was telling her that he had a picture of her with a giant toothbrush on the set of a Tom Petty music video. She can't remember that occasion but does remember other set visits, which she thinks were usually brought on by childcare crises. 'I used to love going on his sets. I was fascinated during Pandaemonium,' she says of Temple's 2000 film in which he cast his daughter as an extra. 'I think that's when I started to get interested in what was going on behind the camera too - before that, at eight years old, I was, "Ooh, I can wear pretty dresses…"'

Her interest in films had been sparked by watching, aged four, Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la BĂȘte. 'That film made me want to be an actress. I was obsessed with it,' she says. Powell and Pressburger's The Red Shoes was another favourite. Watching these films on her father's big-screen projector created in her an ongoing passion for immersing herself in the dark in the cinema for two hours.

Her first proper part was in her father's 1998 movie Vigo. 'And he completely cut me out of it! And I'd learnt a Chopin Nocturne piece on the piano. I was like…' Her big eyes droop and her bottom lip pouts.

At 15, she realised she wanted to be an actress. 'I just had to turn around to my parents and say, "I really want to do this."' It was then that her mum suggested she attend the audition for Notes on a Scandal: '"You know what Juno?" she said, "If you want to do this, go and see your competition."'

Richard Eyre remembers the sweet girl he met back then. 'None of Juno's personal qualities was required in the part,' he says. But even though she had never really worked before, Eyre knew she could do it. Already 'she was an actress. I knew she could play it without having to be it.'

Now Juno Temple is one of our best new acting talents. Out later this year is a film she made with Eva Green called Cracks, about a girl at boarding school in the 1930s. And before that she was in Louisiana with Jack Black making Year One, the comedy produced by the wildly hip and successful Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, Superbad). And before that she was in Brussels and Canada, filming Mr Nobody with Jared Leto and Sarah Polley.

She admits she would readily move to LA, not least because that's where her boyfriend of three months lives (he's an actor, but she declines to name him). But in the midst of all this whirl Temple is keeping her feet on the ground. Her parents are a help here, in every regard. 'They wanted me to do it on my terms,' she says. 'It's my life, it's my career and they're always going to be there when I get told I'm too short, too fat, too frizzy, too whatever.

'They are going to be supportive of what I do, and they're not going to try and change what I do. It makes it much easier, it means I can really trust them with everything. And I can turn to them at any point and say, "Um, OK, love this script, but I'd have to be having sex for pretty much six weeks solid - how do we feel about it?" And they'd give me a straight answer. "Well, is it necessary?"'

'Together they're very clever about filmmaking. And they're always right about what's going to be good and what's not going to be good. I am,' Temple concludes, 'really lucky.'

1 comment:

  1. Juno is one my favourite actresses and it's so interesting about her getting the Notes on a Scandal job because that was through a public casting. The fact that with most open castings they look for anyone who IS the character rather than ACT the character - and for Juno to be good enough to just ACT it - it's a lot like Saoirse Ronan really, with her role in Atonement. :D