In 2010, we've seen Gemma Arterton battling gods in ancient Greece in "Clash of the Titans" and galloping on horses across the sands of time in "Prince of Persia." But American audiences have never seen the 24-year-old British actress as we do in "The Disappearance of Alice Creed."
From her very first moment onscreen in this taut thriller of an indie flick, she's physically and emotionally stripped bare. Arterton plays the title character, a woman from a wealthy family who's kidnapped and held hostage in an anonymous room. She spends a great deal of the film tied to a bed, a ball gag stuffed in her mouth as she's routinely stripped naked and forced into one humiliating act after another.
Yet as the film evolves, Alice strikes a plan of her own, beginning to snatch back power from her two male captors. With secrets revealed in a piecemeal fashion, you start to realize exactly how she came to be in this utterly dysfunctional dynamic. With the movie now in theaters, Arterton sat down with MTV News to talk about the difficulties of the shoot, how filming nude scenes is no big deal and why "Alice Creed" has given her the opportunity to embrace smaller movies rather than those big-budget action flicks.
MTV: On behalf of the moviegoing public, I'd like to say congratulations for delivering the most dysfunctional love triangle of the year!
Gemma Arterton: It is! It is! But let's not reveal too much.
MTV: That's all we'll say. It is a difficult and often brutal movie from the very first scene, when you're abducted, stripped naked and tied up. How do you get into that mind-set on set?
Arterton: You just do it. We shot in sequence, which is really unusual. So from the first day, I was filming that stuff. It was the stuff, physically, that I wasn't looking forward to, because it was really demanding, and I was exhausted at the end of it. But actually, I was more intimidated and nervous about the rest of the film, which, psychologically and emotionally, is so dramatic. I didn't know if I was going to be able to achieve the level of terror and angst. You just go for it. When I read the script, I just loved it. I hadn't read anything that held me like that before. All of the physical things that happen, I went, "Yeah, it's not great to have to do those things, but it's part of this wonderful film, and I'm not going to complain about it. I'm just going to do it."
MTV: Speaking of those difficult things, there are some brutal nude scenes. The night before, are you dreading filming that stuff, or is it just another day at the office?
Arterton: Honestly, it is just another day at the office. I know it's really hard to believe, [but] I was thinking so much about all the other stuff I had to do, all of the crying and the fear, that that was just the easy bit, in a way. I didn't have to worry about anything. I think it's good to treat it like that. I remember when we were on set, everyone is always so respectful and they really make a fuss out of you. I remember just trying to make everybody laugh in those scenes, because then the tension is broken and everyone can just get on with the job. A lot of a hoo-ha is made out of [nudity]. Also, I'm a really big fan of French cinema, and it's not a big deal for French actors and French moviemakers. It's just another part of the movie. If it's relevant, it should be like that.
MTV: Also, the ball gag you always have to wear. By the end of it, my jaw was hurting. How long did you have to suffer?
Arterton: Oh, the ball gag! For the first week, I was really like the overzealous actor going, "Put it on really tight. I want to feel it, and the handcuffs and all that." And then I started actually hurting myself, and I had these cuts at the side of my mouth and my wrists were bruised, so we worked out a way I could fake it. But it was just, take after take, just pop the ball gag in. If I was talking too much, they'd pop the ball gag back in. Actually, they used to disinfect it every day with mouthwash. So now with mouthwash, I get that kind of memory of the ball gag.
MTV: "Alice Creed" is very different from what American audiences have seen from you after "Clash" and "Prince of Persia." What is more your sweet spot? Is it the big blockbuster or the indie flicks?
Arterton: This sort of movie is the type of thing I see that I will buy on DVD and will read about and be excited about. I do like blockbusters, but for me, it's a very different style of acting. The reason I wanted to do this film is, I just wanted to do something that was focused on the story and the acting. It's really exciting making the big movies, because it's what you imagine, when you're a kid, moviemaking is like. As an actor, this film is the most satisfying type of work. Since making this movie, my career has changed. It's done me more favors than anything else I've done, although it's probably been seen by less people.
MTV: What are the types of roles that are coming your way?
Arterton: Whereas before it was usually the girl role, it's now movies where the girl is leading the movie. Also, more quirky indie films. Before, people make an assumption of you based on the pop side of the work you do. I'm so pleased, because now I can do both!
MTV: So what's next for you? Anything you'd like to reveal?
Arterton: I'd love to tell you, because they're so cool. But they're not fully financed, so I don't want to jinx it. I just can't wait to tell everybody!
Check out everything we've got on "The Disappearance of Alice Creed."
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