From Disney classics to indie dramas, Matt Mueller meets the actress who is all over our cinemas this year
If there’s a young British actress with a more bewitching appeal than Juno Temple, I don’t know her. Directors from Joe Wright (Atonement) to William Friedkin (Killer Joe) have already played off her virtues – that English princess-gone-feral quality – but with a handful of films due out this year, her talents are set for a fresh airing.
Though all of Temple’s upcoming films bear dark tidings, none of them do so more than Magic Magic, a drama about a fragile young American (played by Temple) who mentally unravels in remotest Chile and is tormented by her selfish companions (including a malevolent Michael Cera). ‘It’s about a girl being afraid of her own reflection,’ says Temple, who was drawn to the part to bring insight to a woman suffering a schizophrenic breakdown. ‘I have mental illness in my family, so it’s something I do know about. I wanted to get it right and I wanted to not be afraid to really lose my shit. I actually felt a bit distraught watching the finished film.’
Following Magic Magic will be Maleficent, Disney’s big-budget reworking of Sleeping Beauty, starring Angelina Jolie as the wicked fairy godmother. The youngest of a trio of diminutive fairies, Temple plays alongside Imelda Staunton and Lesley Manville. As for her famous co-star, Temple never actually shared a room with Jolie: ‘It’s going to look like I had lots of scenes with Angelina, but I was only whizzing around on wires opposite a giant styrofoam version of her.’
Far From the Madding Crowd, Thomas Vinterberg’s adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s tragic love triangle, due out later this year, was a much earthier affair, shot over two months last autumn in west Dorset. Temple is the downtrodden Fanny, opposite Carey Mulligan’s haughty Bathsheba. ‘The performance Thomas gets from actors is so raw,’ says Temple. ‘His take is so emotional: it’s going to make Hardy more relatable to my generation. And,’ she adds, ‘Carey’s performance is exquisite.’
Temple, who turns 25 in July, spent her toddler years in LA before moving to a farmhouse in Somerset with her film-producer mother Amanda (‘an amazing woman’) and father Julien, the film and music video director whose credits include the Sex Pistols documentary The Filth and the Fury. ‘My father spent so much time taking us on quests,’ she says of growing up with her two brothers. ‘I always want to be aware of the child in me.’
She has said that the only way she could have rebelled in that bohemian household was by becoming a traffic warden. Instead, after making her big-screen debut in her father’s 2000 film Pandaemonium, Temple caught the acting bug. Having been educated at Bedales (‘Most of my best friends in the world I met there’), Temple followed a boyfriend to LA after her turn in Atonement, at the age of 17. Since becoming immersed in the Hollywood indie scene, she now rarely stops working. ‘I’ve had such amazing roles come my way; most of the time it’s hard to say no.’ For which we can all be thankful.