Posted by admin on December 8th, 2013 under Interview
Why would an English rose portray a Texas thistle?
“She was just so” tough, Holliday Grainger said. “And I’m not. That’s why I needed to play Bonnie.”
In Bruce Beresford’s new mini-series, “Bonnie & Clyde,” to be simulcast Sunday and Monday on Lifetime, A&E and History, she sashays into the role of the 1930s gangster Bonnie Parker, most famously played by Faye Dunaway in Arthur Penn’s 1967 classic film of the same name, with Emile Hirsch in for Warren Beatty as Clyde Barrow.
Ms. Grainger, 25, started acting as a child but said that she accepted her fate only recently. Now, after seductive turns as Lucrezia Borgia in the Showtime series “The Borgias” and Estella in Mike Newell’s recent film version of “Great Expectations,” she is willing to pit her angelic Cupid’s bow against Ms. Dunaway’s cheekbones.
In a phone interview from Manchester, England, where she was painting her new house just down the road from her mother’s, a bubbly Ms. Grainger spoke with Kathryn Shattuck about playing the woman behind the legend and sharing the screen with some big guns.
These are excerpts from their conversation.
Q. You’re British. Why the American Bonnie?
A. It was my favorite script in ages, and the first in quite a while that I kind of went: “She’s me. I want this role.” Every mirror I passed, I was acting out Bonnie to myself. When I got offered the part, I was partly elated, partly shocked, partly terrified.
Did you do research for the role?
I got a voice coach, three or four biographies, and watched a few documentaries. I read excerpts from Bonnie’s diaries and letters and downloaded songs she mentions in them. I had to learn about panic attacks, and I went back to ballet and dance lessons and did gun training as well.
So you know how to handle a gun now?
I can handle a gun, yeah. I was so scared when I started with the accent — I’d never done American — and with loading the gun. But within a week of shooting, running around and speaking a Texas accent, you’re so involved in the scene that you don’t notice the gun in your hand.
I hope it was loaded with blanks.
No, they had half-rounds. They don’t go quite as far, but you can do a lot of damage. You’ve got to aim at a stunt man, and it’s up to him to dodge out of the way. Sometimes I’d be like, “Please jump, please jump soon.”
Did you forsake college for a career?
I did a year at Leeds, studying English. They basically threw me out, because I was taking too much time off to act. So I transferred to the Open University, because I could do it all online. By that point, I had admitted to myself that I had the acting bug. Until then, I thought it was something I just did for fun.
You’ve worked with some big names, including Jeremy Irons in “The Borgias,” and Helena Bonham Carter in “Great Expectations.” Holly Hunter plays your mother in “Bonnie & Clyde.”
Holly was lovely. When we got on set she was so generous, she even asked me what sounds I was doing for my accent ’cause then she’d base hers on mine rather than the other way around.
Now you’re playing Anastasia in Kenneth Branagh’s “Cinderella.” Surely they don’t have you portraying an ugly stepsister.
They sort of are ugly stepsisters — ugly on the inside. They’re the movie’s comedy double act. But with Cate Blanchett as the wicked stepmother, they can’t be that ugly, can they?