The Disappearance of Gemma Arterton

Hello!
Hi, hi how are you?

Pretty good, yourself?
I’m very well, thank you very much.

I’m Kevin, I’m calling from Montreal
Oh, lovely!

Are you in Toronto, is that it?
That’s right.

Ok, so we’re here to talk about The Disappearance of Alice Creed… You must get this a lot, but what made you want to make such a harsh movie?
I think that was precisely the reason. At the time when I decided to make this film, I’d just come off a big budget movie [Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time] and I was feeling a little bit like I hadn’t really exercised my acting ability for a while, so I was a little bit frustrated. And I wanted to do something that was scary for me, that I didn’t know I could do, you know? I wanted to do something that was raw, all about the acting, and a real departure from what I had done. So, yeah, it was a daunting prospect making this film, but that’s exactly why I did it. I think it’s very important to challenge yourself, and to challenge the audience as well.

I read that you really went all out with it, that even when the camera didn’t show your whole body, you still wanted to be completely tied up?
It wasn’t really that I wanted to be tied up to stay in the zone, it was just than getting untied and tied again and again!

It was a rather short shoot from what I understand, so you didn’t have time to get comfortable I guess.
Exactly. I’m glad it was a short shoot as well, because it was so demanding, for me particularly. If it was any longer than four weeks, I would have gone out of my mind! We shot in sequence, which is very unusual, and the first week was really a kind of heavy week for me, because I got kidnapped, and I did all of the nudity, the peeing scene. (laughs) Everything in that first week! And I remember at the end of the week just feeling like: “Oh my god, what have I got myself in for?” I was absolutely exhausted, then I had three more weeks to do and, because the film is so relentless, it never got any easier for my character! But even though I was exhausted, I was really exhilarated at the end of the day, because I felt we were doing really good work.

It’s a very physical performance, we don’t learn much about Alice, but as an actress, did you make up your own back-story about her?
Yeah, yeah, because you don’t really know anything about the character, so I was important that I did that groundwork, just to root myself, to know who she was. I even made little films as if I was Alice, I got dressed up as Alice, me in the coffee shop, me going shopping, you know, just little things like that.

What was it like working with Eddie Marsan and Martin Compston? Were you able to relax and have fun together between takes?
Absolutely. I think it’s the most important thing on a film like this, that you do take yourself out of it and enjoy yourself as much as you can. I know it doesn’t look like it from watching the movie, but we did actually had loads of fun and we were always laughing. Of course, they were very respectful of me, but I wanted them to feel comfortable as well. You know, we only met a week before we started shooting, then all of a sudden, we were doing those first 15 minutes of the film, which are quite brutal. But we were all kinda similar, we’re quite normal, we take the work seriously but we don’t take ourselves seriously, so we’d joke and we had fun. They were amazing, Eddie and Martin, because when cut was called, they would snap right out of character and joke. I think that’s the sign of a really good actor, that can just go into it when it’s necessary, but not carry it with them all day long. Because in my opinion, if you do that, it takes its toll on you, it’s not very good for you. But, you know, it was amazing to watch Eddie being the most frightening man on the planet, then take it off and be the sweetest man ever!

Since it’s all you three actors and the action takes place almost entirely in one location, it’s kind of like a play. I know that you have a background in theatre, so did you see it like that?
Very much so! The whole experience was closer to being in a play than on a film. There weren’t many people on set, you knew everybody, you had a relationship with everybody. Plus we shot in sequence so that we could really experience the whole film in order rather than doing the end first or whatever. And as I said, it was all about the acting, there were no special effects to distract or anything like that. It was really satisfying for me, because that’s how I like to work.

So are you not gonna make any other big Hollywood blockbusters like Quantum of Solace, Clash of the Titans and Prince of Persia?
Oh yeah! I don’t rule it out, because they’re very much fun to do, it’s good to do these films too, and I think it’s important for the development of an actor to do that sort work.

This is J Blakeson’s first film. How did you find him as a director?
It was actually really amazing working with a first-time director, because he was learning from us as much as we were learning from him. It felt very collaborative, it didn’t feel like there was the big boss at the top telling us what to do. It felt very much like everybody on set was equal, again, like in theatre. I think it’s the best way to work, it felt like a very creative environment.

Still, I’m wondering how J Blakeson is as a person, to have written and directed a movie like this. Because the line is often thin between showing a woman being exploited and the film itself being exploitative, you know? Is the guy a weirdo?
(laughs) He’s not a weirdo, he’s the sweetest guy in real life! When we were making the film, he always was like: “I’m so sorry that I’m making this happen!” And I said: “You’re so sick that you came up with it!” But he’s got a wife, he’s about to have a little baby… Oh, I’m being told we have to finish now.

Ok, well, thank you for your time!
Thank you, Kevin! Take care, bye bye!