Sundance 2013 Interview: Juno Temple on Afternoon Delight and More

Juno Temple had three movies at the Sundance Film Festival, and we got to interview her for two of them. In Afternoon Delight, she plays McKenna, a stripper whom a housewife takes in after a lap dance intended to spice up her married life. In Magic Magic, Temple stars as Alicia, an American on vacation in Chile who begins to unravel with some less than supportive company. In Lovelace, Temple plays Patsy, Linda Lovelace’s childhood friend. As Temple and I both tried to remain coherent towards the end of the festival, we talked about all three films and her upcoming studio projects as well.

CraveOnline: You have three movies here.

Juno Temple: Mm-hmm. Madness.

What’s your schedule like?

Well, I’m going into Magic Magic at 3PM. It’s great. I got here not last night but the night before and it’s such an honor to be here. This is a place that really celebrates independent film and gives the films that you sweat and bleed for a life. And also they’re all films that I’m so proud to be a part of.

Have you been to Sundance before?

Once. I came not last year, the year before. Little Birds and Kaboom!

And Mr. Nobody played Venice, right?

I’ve never been there. Killer Joe also did Venice and I couldn’t go.

Killer Joe was also at SXSW.

I couldn’t go to that either.

Well, I’m glad you’re here.

I made it.

What was your take on Jill Soloway’s perspective on all this emotion, happiness, feminism and laughter in Afternoon Delight?

Oh, I’m mad about it. I was desperate to be a part of this movie when I met her. Before actually too, with the script. I just felt so many emotions when I was just reading that script, so that’s always a good sign I feel. And then I met with Jill and she had so much compassion for each character, so much passion about the project and so much to say. She’s such an inspirational woman, Jill, because she’s so true to herself. She’s so centered, I feel and it was an amazing way to run a set because there was just this calmness and this fluidity that was just inherent always on that set. We had moments where everyone on set was in the scene that we were doing. Even though they’re not in front of the camera you can just tell they were in it. I think that was an amazing thing last night at the screening, that so many people from in front and behind camera have come to Sundance to support this movie. When we got up on stage last night, there were so many people that made this movie possible up there. I think that was a pretty special moment. I’ve never seen anything like that before.

Was there any talk that McKenna might be a British girl?

No. Nope, never.

Did you specifically want her to be American, or did Jill?

Jill did, yeah. It was an American tale and I had a lot of fun with the voice because I wanted to make it very, very sweet and babyish at the beginning and change slightly throughout the movie and get sort of more womanly I suppose. Jill actually came up with that idea and we had fun with that.

Are the tattoos on your rib and side for McKenna or are they yours?

It was mine.

You would think I’d remember because I’ve seen all your movies.

That I’m naked in, yeah.

Do they work for McKenna too?

Yeah, they did and you want to know why, because she’s definitely a rock n’ roll fan. One of them is a Tom Petty quote, and then the violet I think is very feminine which I like for McKenna because she is a strong believer in women for sure.

Was it sort of a relief that McKenna didn’t have to have this heart of gold magical epiphany moment, that she was consistent?

Yeah, I love that. That rung true to me because she’s the one that is consistent throughout the film. She’s the one that doesn’t need rescuing. She doesn’t need rescuing at all, even though Rachel thinks she does. She doesn’t and Rachel needs to sort of look at herself and rescue herself before she tries to help people. And I think it just felt real to me that of course McKenna would go back to what she knows and what she likes doing. She’s proud of what she does. She’s not embarrassed about it and I think obviously what that whole world of prostitution and stripping and the sex trade in general, it’s a dark, sad, scary place for a lot of women to be. I was intrigued by that that McKenna wasn’t like that. McKenna is actually enjoying what she does and feels like she’s giving something. So that’s what felt honest to me that she would go back to doing it. I mean, I think she learns. I definitely think she learns. McKenna learns being in that household. She learns to see what a family is. I think she learns about growing older, looking at Rachel. I think she learns that she’s not quite ready for that life yet. She’s got more life to live elsewhere before she’s in a house, before she gets married, before she has children. And even though their goodbye is brutal, I think they both learn a lot from each other. I think McKenna coming into Rachel’s life makes Rachel look at herself and look at her husband for the first time in ages and they finally have to talk.

Was dancing fun?

Yeah, I had so much fun. I had an amazing dance teacher, this woman Rie. She’s in the movie. When you first walk into the strip club, she’s the woman doing the amazing splits on the pole. I really had an extraordinary experience with that because learning to dance is something, especially that kind of dance, is daunting. I really learned to enjoy it. It’s something that I’m going to continue in my life as a workout because it’s also really great as a woman, because you really learn to love and understand your body through that form of dance. I loved it.

How about all her stage costumes?

Yeah, that was fun too. We had an amazing costume designer and all that stuff, the basis of it, all the crystals and everything were made for me, for that character. So they’re one of a kind which is always cool.

I noticed in all three of your Sundance films you’re dancing at some point, and for all different reasons.

Oh yeah, that’s true! I never thought about that!

How would you compare the trance scene in Magic Magic, the dance scene in Lovelace and McKenna’s dancing?

Well, they’re all very different things, aren’t they? The Lovelace one I still have yet to see the movie actually but I did see that in ADR and it’s fun. It’s frivolous. It’s this girl that is so youthful and normal in the 1970s, just normal and enjoying her life and wanting to go-go dance and encouraging her best friend who’s about to take a f***ing epic journey to dance with her. I think that was a fun one. We had a lot of fun filming that. I believe it’s the moment where Amanda [Seyfried] and Peter [Sarsgaard] first meet in the movie, right? So it was a moment also where my character is encouraging another girl to let her inhibitions down and just dance and be a kid and enjoy, because dancing is such a great form of just release. I think that’s what my character, Patsy, is doing in Lovelace. She’s just being young and dancing.

With Afternoon Delight, it’s her job. It’s the way she makes money. It’s the way she makes her living so it’s more of an exhibition I guess, that dance. It’s something that is meant to titillate somebody else whereas Lovelace is enjoyment for herself. McKenna is doing it for other people. And also, it was something that I had to train for. In Lovelace, I just got to do it which was really fun. I just got to dance how I thought I would go-go dance so I was enjoying myself like a kid in that moment too. Then with Afternoon Delight I really trained. I really learned how to do dance with this amazing woman Rie who was a dance teacher and figure out different moments that feel electric and that you would feel titillated.

Then I think Magic Magic, I have always been on the fence because I do think that Alicia is kind of f***ing with them at that moment. I do think she’s under some sort of weird spell and I think it’s something to do with what’s going on in her head. I definitely thought that she heard voices and so I think she’s being told things that Augustin is taking the rap for but actually it’s not really him. It’s her doing it to herself and that moment to me is a moment which is pretty heartbreaking, because part of you is like “Is she just trying to join in and be in with the crowd? Or is she just losing it?” It’s just such a weird moment that I didn’t find it an enjoyable dance to watch. It makes you feel a bit sick. It’s interesting because Brink says, “Dance like a whore” and that’s her version of doing that. And then in Afternoon Delight I have to really do it. [Laughs]

I didn’t think about that. That’s cool. I like that. I love dancing in my real life so I’d do it in any movie.

Did you get to meet the real Patsy?

No, I didn’t. I didn’t. I’m excited to see that movie. I didn’t get to see it last night. I’ve heard really good things about it.

Was it important to you that you would have been able to meet her or just fine to do your own interpretation?

What was important to me was to make a relationship with Amanda. That was the thing that was most important to me because I wanted that friendship to come to life on screen. She was so lovely to be around and we spent a lot of time chatting in trailers and hanging out and talking about our stuff so that we could connect and that was the thing that was the most important to me, is to create a real relationship with her so that we could bring that across on camera.

Poor Alicia is having such a hard trip, isn’t she?

Yeah, it’s not an easy one.

Have you ever been stuck on a bad vacation?

I’ve been stuck in bad places. Vacations are normally a good memory for me because it’s times where I’ve been with my family. But I’ve definitely been stuck in a hotel room by myself a few times and had a bad moment for sure.

That’s not Alicia’s problem. Her problem is the people she’s with.

Yeah, and the place. It’s everything. It’s a whole combination of things but I’ve never had an Alicia experience.

Do you know what it feels like to be sleep deprived?

Yeah, we just talked about that over there actually. I think any person that gets any kind of anxiety understands because I think human beings, turning your brain off can be a really difficult thing at times and sometimes it does keep you up for a few days. For sure, I’ve definitely experienced that. And it does kind of drive you mildly mad when you really have a lack of sleep and your eyes do that flickering thing where things suddenly go funny and you have to steady yourself.

Did you basically spend the whole film crying?

There’s a lot of tears.

Is that an intense space to be for the duration?

Yeah, it was intense. We did 30 days of shooting and yeah, it was an intense space to be. There were also moments just where you have a thought from [writer/director] Sebastian [Silva], scenes where Alicia’s alone in her bed and she’s hearing the noises, and it’s not so much tears as just panic and everything just giving way and she just wants it to stop. I think when you’re losing grasp of reality and you’re just trying to cling onto any kind of thread that there is of it, and you’re on your own, what do you do? What do you do? You just have to wait it out and hope it’s going to go away, but for her it doesn’t.

Have you finished SIn City 2?

I have, yes.

What do you play in that?

Everyone has their own separate stories going on, but I play one of the girls in Sin City.

Did you just shoot for one day on a green screen?

Mm hmm, it was amazing.

How many scenes would you do in that time?

We did one very long scene and then two other little bits.

Are you going to appear with people you’ve never met, composited together?

No, I don’t believe I am but I got to work with Ray Liotta which was amazing.

Is it scenes from the Frank Miller books?

Yes, I believe so. I don’t know exactly how much I’m allowed to talk about it.

I know exactly how much you’re not allowed to talk about it, so I’m trying to think of things you could. Have you shot Maleficent yet?

Yes, finished that one. I finished that the end of last year.

What was your experience on a big lavish Disney movie like that?

Oh, I had a great time because I got to work with Imelda Staunton and Lesley Manville, two of the best British actresses and two women that are so brilliant at tapping into their inner eight-year-old. We spent most of the time laughing. And Rob Stromberg the director is really quite an exciting vision and I think it’s going to be really cool to be a part of that movie. Also it’s a movie that my brother can go see who’s 13, finally. Yeah, what an amazing cast. Angelina Jolie is going to be so brilliant in that movie and Elle Fanning I’m a huge fan of. It was really cool to be a part of that.

Was the fairy tale world real on set?

All my stuff was motion capture apart from one day, which the set was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life, but all my stuff was motion capture.

So you’re a special effect?

Mm-hmm. I am, yeah.

Have you seen what it looks like?

Tentatively but not a final.

How do you act that when you start? Do you have an idea of what it’s going to look like in the end?

They’re using this amazing technology now where you can really see what’s going on, but also it’s about acting like you would normally. It’s about building relationships with the people that you are acting with and making that scene come to life, whatever you’re wearing or whatever your surroundings.

You were never able to talk about The Dark Knight Rises before you made it, but now that we’ve all seen it, were you sort of in a non-superhero movie because your scenes were just with Selina and not even as Catwoman?

It was just a whirlwind. It was just amazing to go and get to do eight days on that movie.

That’s all it was?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, uh-huh. It was just to get to work with a director like that and a cast like that, you just learned so much in minutes. I was definitely aware that I was in a superhero movie, that had a lot of money. The minute you walk into a set like that, your jaw drops. It’s different. It’s unlike anything I’d ever seen before. But it was an honor to be a part of what I think is one of the best franchises ever made.

Where do you feel you’ve come with your carer by this point, which is still ongoing?

Oh, man, I feel like I’m growing so much as a person and as an actress. I think since last Sundance or since Little Birds has come out, I’ve been given so many amazing characters to play and I’ve worked with some extraordinary people. I’ve learned so much in my personal life and work life and I’m excited because I really feel like I’ve been challenged in the past four years of my life with acting jobs. I hope it is ongoing because I’ve got so much more to learn and so many more parts that I know I’m going to want to breathe life into and I think I’m very lucky. There are a lot of people that want to do this in the world, a lot of people that have the passion and there’s a lot of young talent right now. To be one of the people that’s working feels amazing.

You’ve also been able to play a lot of young characters, though I don’t really think you looked 12 in Killer Joe.

But I’m not 12. It’s a memory that I’m repeating in Killer Joe. I’m remembering when I was 12 with a boy and I sort of say it, and Matthew also responds by saying he’s 12.

What I was getting at is what are the roles you still want to play while you’re still at an age where they’re available, and what are the roles you look forward to growing into?

Oh, I’m really excited to leave school or college of any kind. That’s going to be a big step. At this point, I cherish the fact that I can still play, hopefully a 17-year-old. I love that because there are so many amazing roles being written for women right now, younger and older. Roles that really challenge myself. That’s a hard question for me to answer because it’s so about the story, it’s so about the script, it’s so about the people, it’s so about each character when you read it but I think it would be fun to play a musician. I’d have to learn an instrument. That would be really cool, but I could do that now or I could do that in 10 years too. Then I think it would be very exciting at some point to have a proper day to day job and not be thought of as someone that’s studying. It’s going to be exciting to be in my late 20s, early 30s.

And play a woman in the work force?

Something. I want to try everything. I want to dip my toes in it all and see how it goes. Each movie is its own experience and you just learn so much from playing different characters, things that you wouldn’t learn being yourself.


Don't miss Crave's interview with Temple's Lovelace co-star Amanda Seyfried or our review of Loveless by Crave's Fred Topel.

And make sure to check out all of Crave Online's coverage of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival here!

Photo Credit: Andres Gachon

Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.