Eva Green Talks Tarot Cards, Temptation, and ‘Penny Dreadful’
If you think Vanessa Ives’ clairvoyant, ball-busting and hyper-sexual demeanor was all a front, think again. This Sunday’s episode of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful—the second of the series–was a coming-out of sorts for Ms. Ives, played by Eva Green, who is no stranger to on-screen sex and total male-domination (cut to past films like The Dreamers and Casino Royale, to name just two). Green’s Miss Ives can outwit any socialite, hang (read: convulse, jerk and basically twerk) with the devil and still make Mr. Dorian Gray—played by the handsome Reeve Carney—jealous. I chatted with Green to go deep into Ives’ rumble with evil spirits, and find out what exactly she is hiding beneath that very tight corset of hers.
Keeping in mind the show’s spirit, I’m going to jump right into the juicy stuff: your big monologue. Can you tell me how you prepped for this scene? What was challenging? And was that your grumbling voice?
The Séance? It is indeed one of the most difficult scenes I have ever done. It’s one of those things could easily looks silly. Vanessa is possessed at that moment by several different characters, so the transitions between each one were tough as well as finding their voices and their emotional states. And as for the “grumbling voice,” it is my voice. I am actually speaking Lingala (a dialect from the Congo)!
Have you ever had to act possessed before for a role? It looks like it hurts!
Yes it’s my first time! And let me tell you, it really really scared me sometimes. It is a very physical role—lots of bruises—but such an amazing role, and what wouldn’t we do for art? Just wait for the other episodes!
How did you land Penny Dreadful, and what about the role attracted you most?
I was so so lucky that John Logan, the writer and the creator of the show, offered it to me. Even though it takes place in Victorian England, Vanessa is a thoroughly modern woman. She’s a non-conformist, and hungry for life at a time when women were repressed. She’s such a cool character! It’s a great opportunity as an actor to show all her different facets.
Do you think Vanessa is as confident as she appears in the show and to the audience? For you, what is her biggest inner conflict?
No, not all. Vanessa, like all the other characters in Penny Dreadful, is gifted and cursed with special powers, which make her unique but also alienate her. She is torn and tormented. She is possessed by some obscure force, but she has such an amazingly strong will that she is able to keep it dormant—except when temptation arises. Then it becomes a fight to see who will win, Vanessa and her iron will, or the obscure force.
Who is your inspiration for Vanessa?
Vanessa inspired me! She is such a well-written character that she “exists” even on the page, which is very rare today.
Can you give us one spoiler alert, or a hint, for what’s to come for Vanessa? Are Vanessa and Dorian going to start up a relationship (please!)? Is Vanessa’s relationship with Sir Malcolm completely ruined now?
Oh, I am sorry I can’t tell you otherwise I will ruin it. And John would have my head!
There are so many tales intertwined in PD. Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, Count Dracula. What was your favorite haunting tale when you were growing up? And do you personally believe there are unexplained, supernatural occurrences that happen in life?
Yes, of course! I loved the tales of Edgar Allan Poe, Maupassant, Théophile Gaultier…The depth of the psychology of the characters and the way the madness is portrayed really fascinated me.
Have you ever personally experienced a tarot card reading?
I taught myself how to read tarot cards for the role and then found myself picking one card everyday to inspire me and oddly enough it did! A little anecdote that’s really spooky: I rehearsed the tarot card reading scene with John Logan months before shooting. I spread the cards , asked John to pick one, and he picked “The Lovers” just as Ethan Chandler does in the show!
This is your second proper series. Do you prefer doing TV or film, and why? What are your thoughts on the current craze over TV?
Without a doubt, film. But this was such an extraordinary character and well so written that I couldn’t turn it down. Some of the TV series are really amazing like Top of the Lake, Game of Thrones, American Horror Story, Breaking Bad…But I do hope the future of feature films will not be endangered by the success of TV series.