Carey Mulligan talks ‘The Greatest,’ ‘Wall Street,’ ‘My Fair Lady’ and more

Although she had more than ten credits on her resume by the time An Education was released last year, Carey Mulligan came out of nowhere and became the closest thing Hollywood has to an overnight success these days when the film became a surprise hit and a award-season contender. Subsequently, she hasn’t let that initial tidal wave knock down her momentum, nor drag her out to the dregs of commercial viability: after a tiny role in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies, she co-stars in Oliver Stone’s upcoming follow-up to his 1987 classic Wall Street, entitled Money Never Sleeps. But before that film is release later this year, she turns up as one of the leads in the new film The Greatest, where she plays the pregnant girlfriend of a dead boy (played by Kick-Ass star Aaron Johnson) who turns up at his family’s home looking for refuge.

Hollywood News recently spoke to Mulligan in Los Angeles at a press day for the film. In addition to speaking about the appeal of working on another modest project as she ventures tentatively into the world of big-budget filmmaking, she offered a few updates about some future projects, including Money Never Sleeps, the Kazuo Ishiguro adaptation Never Let Me Go, and My Fair Lady, a proposed remake of the acclaimed musical for which Mulligan is considered the perfect stand-in for her on-screen forebear, Audrey Hepburn.

Hollywood News: What was the award season like? It seems like such a big deal.

Carey Mulligan: It was long (laughs). In a way, it was really from Sundance on. Sundance was really the first time I had done any press at all. I had done like one interview in England before that. So that was doubly nerve-wracking because I had two films there and it was the first time that I had a big part in any film. The award season was crazy and all good, but ultimately, it is not why you sign up. After a while, you are sort of aching to go and act. Enough people ask you what you are wearing, and you are like, “I used to be an actress before I wore clothes.”

Hollywood News: Does it become distracting at all?

Mulligan: Actually, I wrapped Wall Street at the end of November and then I haven’t worked since. So I don’t think I could have done a film in January or February through all of that. It was good to do Wall Street at the same time as releasing An Education, because when I was promoting, I always knew I was going back to work. But I think it would have been too much and I wouldn’t have been able to do either things properly. It was good to not work for the past couple of months, but I would like to now.

Hollywood News: Do you have any scripts you are looking at now? Do you have any new projects lined up?

Mulligan: Nothing lined up.

Hollywood News: There are rumors circulating that you will be playing Eliza Dolittle for a My Fair Lady remake.

Mulligan: Yeah, I have heard rumors as well. It is all rumors. I am reading things. I am kind of relieved to not really [have] taken longer than like a month off. So, this is the longest time I have not worked. It is kind of alright. I thought it would be horrible, but it has been quite fun.

Hollywood News: You seem to have a natural presence. How much do you prepare for each role, and how have you experiences varied given you’ve worked with seasoned filmmakers and total newcomers?

Mulligan: It varies. For theater, probably, is the most preparation you do, only because you have five weeks of rehearsal. The work two weeks, or week and a half, is spent sitting around discussing things. You don’t get that time in a film. On this, we had three days of rehearsal and then 28 days to film. So really, then you are like, what is on the page? What do I think? How is everyone else behaving? You just do it. There isn’t a huge amount of time for preparation, or nerves really. You kind of just have to get through the scenes. It really varies. On Wall Street, we had three weeks of sitting around and talking about the script and the characters and dissecting the script. Sometimes I think that if I do a lot of research and write a lot of things down then that makes me qualified to do the job… but often it makes no difference. It just depends on the project.

Hollywood News: What have you found works best for mastering an American accent?

Mulligan: God, I haven’t mastered it. I don’t know the secret. It is nerve-wracking because the film is coming out in America. I am distracted by bad accents. On this there was so little budget, I had two sessions with the dialect coach. That was it. There was no coach on set to monitor my accent. On Wall Street, I had a great dialect coach, Tim Monich, who is a very famous dialect coach. He could come up after every take and tweak things. That was helpful. I struggle to watch this film. I think it is brilliant and I think she did a brilliant job. I think she has done something people really rarely do, which is giving characters room to breathe. For me, accents are 95% of what you do. I think I would like to work in my own accent. I think when it comes to emotional stuff, it is really hard to hang onto an accent. If you do think of hanging onto your accent, then you are not in the moment. I always think that I’ll just do it and then if it is terrible, I’ll just fix it in ADR. I hate ADR, but when you do American accents, you have to give yourself to the fact that you’ll have to spend a couple days in the studio afterwards. It is not worth it to become preoccupied on set.

Hollywood News: How did the script come to you and what attracted you to this role?

Mulligan: The script came to me through my agent. It was the normal audition process. I think part of the attraction was that she is somewhat lighter. I think she kind of defers her grief to them because she couldn’t possibly feel as much as they do. There is sort of a generosity in that. I think she is trying to find a security and a base, and she is trying to be attached to him by being with them. I like the idea of working with a small company of actors, and with those actors especially. It kind of feels like theater. Susan [Sarandon] and Pierce [Brosnan] were a huge draw because I didn’t know Shana [Feste]. The minute we met and started working together, I just loved her.

Hollywood News: The movie was very dark, but not too depressing, and I think it was partly because of your character. Was it difficult to keep that smile through all this grieving and sadness? Do you like playing the dark and serious role?

Mulligan: Yeah, I’m always inclined to be self-indulgent [laughs]. I love getting all dramatic and I need to be held back, actually. I think Shauna did a great job with that. You can’t have four people walking around all the time crying. You need to have some levity and she was good at monitoring that for us, because with 28 days, you don’t really have time. You just play your scene and hope that someone will pull you back if you are going to far, and she did that. She had a real command of the story. She was never overprotective of her material; she was really open to changes.

Hollywood News: How does it differ working with female directors compared to working with a male director on Wall Street 2?

Mulligan: Oliver! It is different, but I can’t say if it is a female thing, a male thing, or just a barrel of individuals. With Lone [Scherfig] on An Education, she has a brilliant bluntness where there is no reward or punishment. If you are good, you are good. If you are bad, you are bad and she doesn’t favor you. She is very even. She really was dedicated to telling the story in the best way possible and has no ego at all. I loved her. She had an outsider’s perspective in that she is Danish, so she could view England in a way we wouldn’t. With Shana, it is her material and she was so passionate about it. She got it made. She trusted us with these parts, and it felt like a family environment because we were thrust together so fast and we had very little time. Susan kind of became the mother of all of us. Shana worked her ass off and it was insane. She was incredible.

Oliver was in charge of an enormous crew and the responsibility to making a sequel to a really famous film. And in trying to explain in a kind of accessible way, what happened to the economy in 2008, whilst telling a dramatic story as well. And Oliver is a trip. Every story you have ever heard about Oliver just goes out the window when you meet him and he’s great. He didn’t mollycoddle me which I kind of enjoyed. He treated me like one of the boys. You have to be ready to work and never be unprepared. He just expects you to be ready and he challenges you. There were a lot of men on Wall Street so it did feel like a very male dominated environment but then you just had to be a bit ballsy and get through it.

Hollywood News: Can you talk a little bit about Never Let Me Go?

Mulligan: I shot that last year after Sundance. That’s an adaptation of the Kazuo Ishiguro novel, the guy who wrote Remains of the Day and Alex Garland adapted it and Mark Romanek directed it. And that’s me, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield and it’s been described as a Sci-Fi film, which if you’ve read the book it’s just not. It’s sort of a story about the examination of the soul, the existence of the human soul, and what makes us all basically the same and it investigates that in a love story and a friendship story and also in the fact that lives of the characters in the film are limited. Their lives are compressed into about 27 years and how they deal with that.



Doing our best to bring you "The Pulse of New Hollywood®." Follow us @hollywoodnews

Follow us

Breaking Hollywood News   



  • March 29, 2010 | Permalink |

    Carey is such an amazing actress, the trailer for Wall Street 2 looks so good, I can’t wait to see her and Shia in it

  • March 30, 2010 | Permalink |

    Keira Knightley would have been better for My Fair Lady. She has more of Audrey’s classical looks and talent. I just can’t see Carey taking on Audrey’s role.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.