Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck on a Malick-esque tale of lovers on the run...
What attracted you to the role in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints?
I was really drawn to playing Ruth because she’s a mom and that’s not something I’ve ever done before. She’s in a very complicated situation. There are sort of two different love stories going on: she has her love story with Bob [Casey Affleck] and then she has the love story with her child and it’s very conflicting. She’s really torn.
It’s a very Malick-like movie, and you recently worked with Terrence Malick on his next, as-yet-untitled film. How do the two experiences compare?
There’s nothing similar whatsoever about the way [the different directors] work. They are both quite romantic and poetic and they have a similar aesthetic. David [Lowery] did say something that Terry always says, about how he’s more interested in the space between sentences and words. So I guess that’s a similarity.
It appears that a lot of the outdoor shots in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints were filmed during the ‘magic hour’, which is also a Malick trademark.
It’s a great hour to shoot. But it’s different because this movie was shot with a very set script. We did a lot of this movie during magic hour and that was definitely challenging. I remember being close to the wire on a bunch of things.
It’s set in a time when, as soon as you turned 18, you were considered an adult. Now people can postpone adulthood until their 30s. Where do you fit on the spectrum?
I don’t feel very adult but maybe I’m just slow.
Does starting your career in a big commercial film like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo set you up, in a way?
I don’t really know. I just want to do things that I find interesting or that are challenging to me that I can learn something new from.
Even though it has a ’50s setting the film is essentially a Western, isn’t it?
There are certain tropes of the Western genre that find their way into the movie. But David Lowery deliberately avoided doing certain things that might make it a more familiar representation of the genre. You don’t see any shootouts, you don’t see any bank robberies, you don’t see the prison escape. There are very few cowboy hats. I really wanted to have a cowboy hat but David didn’t allow it.
Badlands and Fritz Lang’s You Only Live Once also seem to be influences. Did you discuss references with David?
Yes, but not those because they were the things we were trying to avoid. There are so many obvious similarities to Badlands and McCabe & Mrs Miller so we talked about other things to pull the movie in a different direction. Sometimes a director has to use certain references because their movie doesn’t have an identity, whereas this movie had a strong identity from the beginning because of the way David designed it.
Did you get sent a certain kind of script after The Assassination Of Jesse James?
What, because of the tremendous box-office success!? The gigantic, soaring success!? That movie was Brad Pitt’s lowest-grossing movie, I believe...
Well, it’s tremendously popular with Buzz...
Right. No, there’s no one type of movie that studios are sending me. They’re not offering me any movie, let’s put it that way. No, I’m kidding. People in Hollywood have the memories of goldfish. They forget anything more than five years ago.
It doesn’t appear you feel any pressure to make more commercial films to boost your profile, though.
No, but I’m not against it. If something was commercial, I wouldn’t see that as a negative. But I don’t feel that pressure. I think it’s different if you’re a girl because there are fewer roles and they’re much more likely to have expectations about how they want you to look. Men have it easier.