It's not unheard of for an actor's performance to define a film so greatly that it lifts that film to another level. It's a little more rare, though, in a big-budget, visual-effects driven vehicle like this weekend's "300: Rise of an Empire." Yet it happens there because of Eva Green. She owns this movie.
Green -- who rose to prominence after playing Vesper Lynd in 2006's "Casino Royale" -- will never be accused of phoning in this performance. She struts and swashbuckles her way through this "300" sequel with confidence and gusto. Actually, "sequel" isn't quite the right word here. Green plays Artemisia, a commander of the Persian navel forces who battle the Greeks at the same time as the events of the original "300" are playing out. (Many times during this film, we will see glimpses of Gerard Butler's King Leonidas and even Michael Fassbender's Stelios.)
For being such an overwhelming force on screen (at one point Artemisia makes out with a decapitated head of a man she had just killed), Green, in real life, could almost be described as shy -- and when we spoke, she hadn't even seen the movie yet because she doesn't like watching herself in movies. Boy, is she in for a treat.
I love that you went "all in" with this movie.
Oh, thank you ... I haven't had a chance to see the movie yet. That's terrible -- I'll see it at the premiere.
So you don't even know how good you are in this yet, do you?
Oh, I don't like watching myself. But thank you for the kind words.
Oh, God. I don't know. I'm very self-conscious, or something. Maybe it's kind of a narcissistic thing, but not in a good way. I just can't watch myself. You know how some actors when they film, they go straight to the monitor and kind of go, "Okay." I should learn and do it -- maybe one day [laughs].
But that's the opposite of narcissism, right?
Oh, yeah. It's like negative narcissism, or something. Yeah, it's weird. It's a paradox. I like doing it, but not watching me. And I'll see it definitely on Tuesday and all of that hard work -- the training -- I can't wait to see the fights. That's the most exciting thing I'd like to see.
Well, you look like you know what you're doing with a sword.
We worked so hard, my God. So, that's good. I mean, it was all green screen, so you don't know what they've done with it. I saw the trailer and it looks like paintings and it looks gorgeous -- like a total different film.
The way you mention the hard work, it almost sounds like relief that it's over.
It was hard work! I mean, the main appeal for me to do this film was the physical stuff because I'm so not physical. I run every day and all this, but that was a big challenge to do the core work in the morning and squat and things like that. Actually, my favorite bit was learning how to fight with three swords ... the thing is, when you finish shooting, it's like a drug and you don't do it every day anymore. And your body kind of asks for it again. I asked my trainer what I should do -- what kind of sports would be good for me -- and he said that boxing would actually be good for me.
Are you going to box?
I'd like to hit! But, I don't think I'd like to receive them.
You should do this.
Or Thai boxing, with the legs and everything. I'd be into that.
When you get a script like this for an over-the-top, stylized kind of movie, do you say to yourself, "I can't half ass this."
I mean, I was worried a bit at the beginning of not being believable as a woman commander.
Why would you think that?
You know, to have the authority to be believable -- because you have all of these strong men and have to be believable as a great enemy. I think, actually, the physical training kind of gave me some kind of confidence, weirdly. And of course the costumes and all of this. It's funny because in drama school I used to like playing Lady Macbeth or Cleopatra, so to be at the head of a ship was kind of -- I felt like a little girl. Like, fun and, as you said, to go "all the way." And she's such a mad character; she's bonkers, you know. She's a man in a woman's body. She's so driven by vengeance, that she becomes quite blind.
You mention fun. Maybe that would have been the better way to word it because you look like you're having the time of your life.
It's jubilating! Of course, you cut heads and kill people, which is all great. But she's so mad that you kind of, yeah, you just let it all out. With playing evil characters, you have to find some jubilation in it. Otherwise, it's kind of not fun.
You mentioned being worried about having authority. For me, once I see someone make out with a severed head, I am not going to defy that person.
[Laughs] Yes. Exactly. I mean, she can't tolerate cowards or incompetence.
What was the actual thing you had to make out with?
Well, it was the actor in the beginning, then we had a dummy -- like a fake head on a wire. And I had to hold the head and it was so heavy. Ah, that was mad. I had some guys helping me to lift it.
I'm harping on this, but it's fun to watch an actor have fun with a role because an audience member can tell.
It's important. You know, I'm a big fan of Jack Nicholson, actually. And there's always that jubilation he has and that's the key -- to find those nice butterflies in your stomach when you go on set.
And now, technically, you can say you've worked with Michael Fassbender.
He's in the movie.
It's old footage, but he's there.
I can show off now. You're making my day.
Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.