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British-born babe supreme Juno Temple is gearing up for a bumper 2013, continuing an incredible series of performances that have had critics practically foaming at the mouth with superlative praise. Here she talks to Wonderland about whipping her kit off, living in the Halloween house, and her secret passion: knickers.|
Being named after a goddess is a good start to life. And the Roman goddess of vitality, fertility and femininity at that. But there’s more. Juno Temple was still in her mother’s womb when her parents discovered on a trip to the Grand Canyon that they were standing on a rocky outcrop called... Juno Temple.
While her parents christened her a deity, one critic dubbed Temple “a sorceress”. That’s what Rolling Stone film buff Peter Travers was spurred to write of the rapidly-rising actress in one of his reviews. She, and we, will read it that he was complimenting her bewitching screen presence. “That’s an awesome thing to be called,” she says, with genuine glee. “But I try not to worry about how people perceive me. The fucking joy of great acting is that you forget who you’re watching and just become engrossed in the character. I hope that happens with me, sometimes.”
Rest assured, Juno: it happens all the time. From her earliest, eye-catching turns – the treacherous brat who sets off tragic events in Atonement; those posh-punk boarding-school girls in St. Trinians, Cracks and Wild Child – Temple has stood out like a bright neon sign, an irresistible screen siren in the making. You might forget the films; you never forget Temple’s indelible appearances. Brave, bold, beautiful, with idiosyncratic diction, soft rounded features and coil-springed hair, she’s gone on to wield her talents in wild, uninhibited ways, behaving like an inquisitive explorer searching for undiscovered worlds. She is a joy to watch.
Wonderland catches up with Temple in LA , just before she heads off to Sundance, where she has three new films to unveil. In Afternoon Delight, she plays a stripper taken in by an unhappy housewife (“it takes a dark subject and makes it funny”). Then there’s psychodrama Magic Magic, in which she loses her marbles in southern Chile with Michael Cera and Emily Browning (“a tough shoot but crazy-amazing”). Temple also appears in Lovelace, the biopic of tragic porn star Linda Lovelace, who is played by Amanda Seyfried with Juno as her best friend. “I guarantee you Amanda is going to be great,” she says supportively. Currently, another Amanda – her mum – is staying with Temple in her Los Feliz apartment, and the 23-year-old actress, who refers to herself as “English” rather than British (the quaint residual, perhaps, of posh schooling), is taking her to Sundance for moral support. “It’s so important to me to have someone’s hands to squeeze when you’re in the middle of this kind of madness,” she says.
It’s hard to keep up with Temple’s career. Not simply because she left for LA four years ago, but she also boasts a dizzyingly prolific work rate. Not many actresses have chalked up 25 feature credits at her tender age (with another three wrapped and more on the cards). Obsessed with watching films, it seems she’s obsessed with making them too. “I’m definitely a workaholic,” she says. “I get panicky when I’m not working.” But Temple, the reigning princess of LA ’s buzzing indie scene (and thus used to taking roles “for no money where you don’t sleep for a month”), insists she now understands the importance of being more selective. Saying yes to every offer dangled before her eyes isn’t any guarantee of career longevity.
Is she just greedy for the experiences? “Hahaha, I want them all for myself!” she laughs. “I just think there are so many great roles for women right now, so many amazing roles that up-and-coming young actresses are doing, that actually I don’t feel greedy. I love that there’s so much amazing young talent. I can’t wait to see Jennifer Lawrence’s new movie, and I love watching what Elizabeth Olsen is doing with her career. I really believe it’s an exciting time.”
Temple’s start wasn’t auspicious. Her filmmaker father Julien cast nine-year-old Juno in Vigo: A Passion For Life, his 1998 biopic of French cineast Jean Vigo, only to leave her on the cutting-room floor. “I did get an awesome pair of Oshkosh pinstripe overalls as compensation so I felt alright about it,” she beams. He made up for it two years later when he put Juno in Pandaemonium – and kept her in this time: her official film debut. Another veteran filmmaker who delivered an adrenaline shot to Temple’s career is The Exorcist’s William Friedkin, who cast Temple as the seemingly spacy, surprisingly savvy and searingly memorable Dottie in Killer Joe, a new cult favourite for its unrestrained scenes of chicken-leg fellatio and virginal deflowering (which happens to Juno’s character at Matthew McConaughey’s hands).
Temple wept when she found out she’d won the role, calling it “one of the best things that ever happened to me… Parts come your way or don’t come your way, and it’s about appreciating the ones that do.” That’s a healthy, laid-back attitude to adopt in the savagely competitive, pressure-cooker atmosphere of LA , although Temple admits it can be hard at times. “Who am I kidding? My heart gets broken when I don’t get parts that I really want,” she sighs. “I get sad but I truly believe that things come your way for a reason. I’m lucky to get a part but if one doesn’t come my way, I can chill and listen to records on my front porch.”
Lured out to the West Coast by a boyfriend and the opportunity to win more roles (she grabbed that bull by the horns), Temple also spent her first four years of life in California when her father (chronicler of the Sex Pistols’ career with The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle and The Filth And The Fury) was taking his own stab at Hollywood success. Freaky revelation: without realising, Juno’s parents purchased the house where Michael Myers lived in the slasher classic Halloween. “I had some trippy times there,” she giggles, “with die-hard Halloween fans coming up to the door and me aged four with crazy gold ringlets going, ‘Hey! Hi!’” She also has memories of hummingbirds above her paddling pool, cloud wallpaper in her bedroom and flooding her favourite doll’s house while trying to bathe a doll.
Back in the UK , the Temple clan set up home in a 650-yearold Somerset farmhouse that was a heartbeat away from Glastonbury, meaning trips to the summer music festival were an annual family event. Julien also built his daughter an Alice In Wonderland-style garden so she could feel like she was growing and shrinking as she ran through it. Raised in her parents’ loving, bohemian bosom has given Temple and her two younger brothers both curiosity and self-confidence. “They encouraged us in every aspect because they wanted to make our lives interesting,” she enthuses. “I’m not the brightest button in the box but they’ve given me this incredible thirst for learning and excitement for life.”
Being surrounded, too, by strong women like her mother, grandmother, godmother and the friends she made at her progressive boarding school, Bedales, instilled in her the frank approach she brings to on-screen sexuality. Either that, or all those holidays in the south of France where au naturel sunbathing is a common sight. “If it’s right for the role, just do it,” is Temple’s laid-back approach. “Obviously there’s a moment before you have to take your kit off where you’re like, ‘Oh shit’, but when you do it it’s quite liberating.” Isn’t she worried directors will take advantage, knowing she’s a willing accomplice? “I’ve never felt taken advantage of. Although I’ve definitely been joking with my mum: ‘Shall I keep my kit on this year?’”
After Temple’s parents watched Gregg Araki’s Kaboom, in which she plays a horny free-spirit named London (the role that prompted Travers to brand her a sorceress; he also called her “pert”), they left a jokingly appalled voicemail. “There’s a lot of fucking and nudity in Kaboom, so that voicemail was very funny!” she says. Her brothers, the youngest in particular, have often been left out in the cold, largely unable to witness the racy/sexy career their sister has been carving. It’s one reason she returned to the UK last autumn to play a tiny fairy called Thistletwit in Maleficent, Disney’s big-budget spin on Sleeping Beauty starring Angelina Jolie. “I used to convince everyone in my school that I could see fairies,” she says. “Now I get to play one, and my 13-yearold brother will get to see it.”
Looking forward, Temple wants to stay on the same wavelength that’s carried her this far. “Honestly, I’m up for trying anything,” she chirps. “I want jobs that make me nervous.” One of those may be Princess Margaret, the Queen’s notoriously louche younger sister. Temple is in talks to portray the royal rebel in her early days, before Liz was parked on the throne. Temple is also anticipating the day when she can launch her own lingerie line. She had a place at the London College of Fashion before acting spirited her away to another life, but her fashion dreams remain intact. “I’m always playing these very sexual girls and lingerie is such a great thing for a woman to have,” she proclaims. “I love the idea of a powerful woman wearing a suit but then underneath she’s wearing really great lingerie.” Preferably Juno lingerie, which would be another fine use for her memorable name. “She’s the goddess of children and light: that’s a pretty bangin’ name for a lingerie line…”