Friday, March 12, 2010

Emilie de Ravin on Remember Me and the Learning Curve of Lost

As if the buzz around the final season of Lost didn’t give Emilie de Ravin enough to contend with, the Australian actress enters a whole other realm of hype this weekend starring opposite Robert Pattinson in the film Remember Me. De Ravin plays Ally, a saucy New York University student with a tragic past and a protective NYPD-veteran father (Chris Cooper); she’s the type of girl who eats dessert before her entree to get the most out of life, which she knows from experience could end unexpectedly at any minute. She takes up with Tyler (Pattinson), another saucy NYU student with a tragic past and an estranged, big-shot lawyer father (Pierce Brosnan). They’re all headed for a collision (literally and figuratively) in which Ally may be the toughest party — or at least that’s how de Ravin plays her, the keeper of a certain wry grace that slices through the thick machismo and urbane cynicism around her.
De Ravin talked to Movieline recently about doubling up on her Cultural Moment, how to build a back story, and her small problem with dreadlocks.
Between a movie with Robert Pattinson and Lost, you’re at the center of two pretty major phenomena right now. How do you deal?
Yeah, I guess so. I don’t know. As far as Lost is concerned it’s kind of bittersweet that it’s ending, but it’s also wonderful that it’s ending. I think it’s been great; it’s been a good ride, and it’s ending on a high note. And as far as the film, I just hope people enjoy it. I was passionate about this script from the second I read it. I told them I needed to play this role. Something just… connected with me.

What was that?
When I read something, sometimes I just connect to it. I don’t know why, but I just say “I need to play this role.” Maybe it’s just because I know what I do, even though that kind of changes a bit along the way. Just the script in general — the story, the characters, just how well they’re developed. A lot of the time you have your main couple characters well-developed, and everyone else is just kind of there. But everyone’s characterizations and character arcs is so perfect and interesting and true. Real situations are dealt with. It’s not your sort of light, fluffy romantic drama where everything’s good, or everyone’s good, or when something goes wrong it’ll just get better. It’s real, and it deals with what life is — which is not perfect. It’s amazing and beautiful and happy and sad and frustrating and angry. That’s one of the things I really loved about it.
Ally is a character much younger than yourself — still in college, living at home, answerable to her father. Was there something about that age or that scenario that you wanted to revisit and address as an actor?
I don’t know about age. It’s just that she’s so complex. In a way you can look at her and say, “Well, she’s just this normal girl.” But what’s normal? I don’t think anyone’s quite quote-unquote normal. She’s obviously dealing with so much, and I think that a lot of her quite prominent personality traits stem from losing her mother at a young age. Therefore she’s adamant about honesty and not taking crap from anyone, and living life to its fullest. And not living in the past — not necessarily forgetting the past, but being able to move on and live and not be afraid of living. She also just has this thing about her that inspires people around her. She’s fun! But she’s also gutsy and sarcastic and quirky. There are so many elements to her that I fell in love with.
How did you fill in the back story between Ally’s early trauma and grief and the present day?
It’s always there. She deals with it in a way that’s maybe not visually present to others. It’s clear to Tyler; they’re both wounded characters dealing with situations in different ways, and dealing with grief in different ways. I worked especially with Chris in developing our back story, and that helped a lot. We really developed our father-daughter relationship: What do we talk about? How open are we? What’s our routine? What’s my past with boys? What’s his opinion on this or that? Everything, because it had to just work — especially in our daily activities. It’s such an organic process of things happening. In talking about that we came to really realize how they both dealt with the situation. Each other is all they’ve got. Until she meets Tyler, there’s no one else she’s opened up to.
Switching gears to Lost, but when you took Season Five off, did the producers say, “Stay close; we’ve got something juicy planned for you in Season Six”?
Yes. I agreed to be put on a holding deal for Season Five, and I’d come back. That’s basically exactly what they said: “It’ll be really interesting.” I didn’t know how or why until I came back.
But you didn’t watch Season Five, right?
No, I didn’t. I consciously didn’t, and I’m glad I didn’t because the scenario with Claire wasn’t involved. It was just more interesting to me that way — even though, of course, I heard all about it.
So when you come back to whole new characters and situations on a show this crazy, what’s the learning curve?
I sort of got used to being confused and having to really think about the things in the scripts those four years prior. There’s always been — and I’m sure there will be until the last day — so much going on and so much to remember. Situations and happenings that are coming up from Season Two are brought up again, and you have to reflect back and remember characters and happenings and scenes that you may need to know about. I think it’s been a bit of brain-training over the years. I’ve gotten better at that.
Does it ever feel like they’re just making it up as they go along?
[Pauses to think] No. No, they’ve known for a long time — since when they announced their end date three years ago — where they’re headed and how this will all tie up. They have endless opportunities for what they can do with the show. There are no boundaries. And they come up with the craziest stuff. It’s amazing. I don’t know how they do it.
What percentage of your experience on Lost would you estimate has been spent wearing wigs?
Well, now I’m very glad I wear a wig. I wouldn’t want my hair to look like that — all dreadlocks and dirt and gnats. But I suppose ever since I cut my hair in Season… Three? If I recall?
Australian cinema is going through quite the renaissance right now. Do you follow the industry back home or ever want to take on a project there?
I do, or I try to. And yes, I would love to work back home. I really would. Obviously it’s all about the project, and there’s not quite the quantity of films that come out of the States. But there’s some really interesting stuff, and we’ve got some really talented people. So… absolutely.

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