11 December 2009

Interview for AfterEllen ('06)

This is an interview dated February 2006 and featured on the AfterEllen site, which has some good material on Lena. It's mainly focused on IMAY again and Lena's lovely and fun as usual!

It's a rare thing when a small British independent film gets picked by not one but two major studios (Fox Searchlight in the U.S. and Universal in the U.K.). Even rare when the movie is about two girls falling in love — but Imagine Me & You  has managed just that.

I caught up with the beautifully frank Lena Headey (Luce) as she shared her thoughts on love, her career, and her partner in crime — and lesbian icon — Piper Perabo.

AfterEllen.com: How did you get involved in making Imagine Me & You?
Lena Headey: Same as always really. I met Ol [Parker, the director/writer] and did the worst audition ever! I don't know why, I think it might have been because I wanted the part so much. I hadn't felt that way about a project in a long time.

AE: Which scenes did you have to read?
LH: I read the scene where they're on the hill and a couple others. I walked out thinking — f--- I did that really well in my bedroom this morning and this was really bad! When he called and said do you want to come and do it I was like yeah!

AE: You'd worked on The Cave with Piper. Did that help you guys create the chemistry that comes across in Imagine Me & You?
LH: [big smile] I genuinely really love Piper, I think she's bright, funny and smart. We definitely got on. I think that by being thrown together sort of made our friendship. She left [the set of The Cave] two weeks before me. That was the longest two weeks ever! I remember crying! I was like “oh no, don't leave me!”

But when we got back from the shoot which was really wet and in Romania, we were on the phone to each other saying: “Look I've got food, it's amazing!”

AE: So did you find out that you both got the part on Imagine Me & You while shooting The Cave?
LH: We were talking about Imagine Me & You and she said she was up for it, I said, “So am I!” And when we got it, we were like, “There you go, we get to do something proper! Instead of running around in these things!”

AE: Imagine Me & You is a first in its genre in that the girl gets the girl, no one dies or turns straight again, and the characters in the film are much more realistic than those you normally see in a romantic comedy.
LH: Yeah, I think what strengthens it is that Piper doesn't sort of go, “Now I'm a big lesbian!” It's just that she's fallen in love. And I like that Luce is steady and makes no excuse for who she is, “that's who I am” kind of thing. I love that about it. When I was doing press in America I was asked if I thought Luce was repressed [pulls a silly face]! I really don't. She's just stuck, she can't do anything. She can't run in and shout “I love you!” I was actually really shocked at that comment, you know!

AE: What has the press thing been like in the US?
LH: New York was a trail of journalists coming into a room with questions like [puts on an American accent], "Do you think that Brokeback Mountain made way for this movie?" [Pulls a face, as do I.] And I was like, "Um, well, probably maybe I'd say there is no relation at all!" There was a lot of that!

AE: Did you get to do any press with Piper? What were they asking you?
LH: Yeah, that was great. I don't think they knew what to make of us. We've had journalists saying, "Oh my God! How do you find playing a gay woman? Don't you think it may ruin your career?"
Piper and I would look at each other [pulls a face again]. There were secret laughs and secret evils.

AE: Especially since Piper was in Lost & Delirious at the beginning of her career! Did she tell you all about being adored by women?
LH: We didn't discuss it really. I mean I was in Band of Gold years ago playing a lesbian and I would get lots of girls coming up to me asking if they could take me out. I was like, "Wow!"

AE: I understand that for Band of Gold you trained with a dominatrix. How was that?
LH: I really liked her. I was really shy and found it incredibly awkward. I was really young at the time and so I started thinking, "I'm in love with her, I want this sort of job!" It was quite sad too. She never made eye contact with any of us. She was very cut off but very warm at the same time.

AE: Out of all the roles you have done, which are you let's say the most proud of?
LH: I think in terms of proud, I'd have to say The Brothers Grimm, 'cause I didn't kill myself! A personal triumph! But I think Aberdeen is the one. It still gets to me that it never got released in the U.K. I read it and thought, "Wow, this kind of material never comes my way. I'm never given this sort of thing."

AE: You play opposite two great actors, Charlotte Rampling and Stellan Skarsgard, did you know right from reading the script that you had to be part of this project?
LH: I met Hans [Petter Moland, the director] and went, "I have to do it!" He asked if I really liked it. And I said, "I love it, I've slept with it under my pillow, I've read it every day! I know I can do it." He went away for three months, all the time staying in touch. Telling me they want me to do it with Drew Barrymore, they're giving me a bigger budget. But then after a while he dismissed all that and said, "It's yours, you start in a month!" It was an awesome experience.

AE: Have you seen Madonna's video for Hung Up? Do you think you guys influenced her with your dancing sequence!?
LH: [chuckle] I think, yes, definitely! She saw it in the U.S. and thought, "Oh, I have to use this, and wear a really scary leotard as well!" We were influential!

AE: The debate at the heart of Imagine Me & You is whether love at first sight is a myth or a reality. What do you think?
LH: I think it's real. The truth is, you can fall in love — for me anyway, men or women like you — it's whether you follow through to the end, to its natural end, or not. It does happen.

Interview by Jennifer Kilchmann


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