Juno Temple - 'My dad is one of my biggest inspirations'
Juno Temple's parents are film royalty. But she has no qualms about exploring the seedier end of the spectrum. She tells Kaleem Aftab why
Friday 02 December 2011
'It's definitely nerve-wracking taking your kit off," admits Juno Temple. It seems a strange statement from the 22-year-old daughter of film-maker Julien Temple and producer Amanda Temple, given that in the past year she has shown no fear about nudity on screen.
Having played a teenage siren in Gregg Araki's sci-fi teen sex comedy Kaboom, she'll next be seen playing Dottie, a virginal innocent, in William Friedkin's festival hit Killer Joe. No one who has seen The Exorcist will need a reminder that Friedkin seldom leaves virginal innocents that way for long. It's just one of the many roles that seem destined to ensure that Temple is the British breakout star of 2012.
Killer Joe is an adaptation of Tracy Letts's play about a teenage Texan rascal, Chris, who employs Joe (played by Matthew McConaughey), a New York police detective who moonlights as a hit-man, to kill his mother in an insurance scam. When Chris can't come up with the down-payment he offers his younger sister Dottie's virginity as recompense. The pivotal deflowering scene is the movie in a nutshell, absorbing, morbid, enthralling and best watched through fingers.
"It wasn't so bad doing that scene," says Temple. "People are so respectful when you're doing those kind of scenes, they close the set, so, while obviously you're nervous, Matthew was incredible about it and he really took the time to make me feel very comfortable, we rehearsed it a lot and Matthew's such a gentleman."
The actress has a style similar to that of Helena Bonham Carter. She admits that costumes are an important part of all the characters she plays and one advantage of having to strip off is that she often gets to wear nice lingerie on screen: "I'm a bit of a lingerie person. Lingerie is my favourite thing in the world. It's quite an interesting thing, because weirdly I think it helps with my character. I was playing trailer trash so my lingerie wasn't ever going to be spectacular in this movie. But I'd like to design lingerie one day. I really love it. I think it's such an extraordinary thing as a woman to be able to play with."
Temple's CV is full of edgy roles. In Cracks she plays a jealous schoolgirl with a crush on her teacher (played by Eva Green). Dirty Girl, recently released Stateside, sees her playing yet another school rebel, one who ditches class to go on a road trip in an ode to the 1980s high-school teen movie.
Another of her upcoming films, The Brass Teapot, seems to fit the Temple template: "The Brass Teapot is about a young couple with no money, who find a brass teapot that squeezes out money whenever they inflict pain on themselves. It's a part I was desperate to do."
Temple talks with an accent that has a drawl, pitching it in a strange void between England and LA. Perhaps that should come as no surprise: aged 19 she hopped on a plane to LA, where she's been living for the past three years.
It's no surprise that the actress has become a Sundance darling. Also slated to premiere at the festival in January are two Temple films: Jack and Diane, in which she plays one of the lesbian leads, and Jonas Akerlund's adaptation of Chris Millis's book Small Apartments.
She says: "I love being challenged and there's nothing I wouldn't try. I've been so lucky to work with directors that do make me feel quite fearless, because I'm definitely not a fearless human being, but when it comes to that moment, all you can ask for is a director to encourage you to let go of everything and just dive into it. I'm playing roles that are very different to me, which is nice, because I really have to think about it and I get to learn so much about humanity and being a woman."
Nonetheless, it's the big-budget mainstream films that make you really famous. That's why 2012 promises to be a big year for Temple, because, in addition to the plethora of critically acclaimed independent films, she has landed a part in The Dark Knight Rises, the final part of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy: "It was an extraordinary experience. I'm not really allowed to talk about it."
She's much more forthcoming about her parents and family: "My dad is one of my biggest inspirations ever, and he's helped with so many decisions and also with my attitude to film-making too. I hope I get to work with him someday and we can do a movie together, although that's not on the horizon as he's doing documentaries at the moment. My parents are my best friends. I couldn't do this without my family, they keep me so grounded."
Although her parents had not seen Killer Joe when we spoke, she says she's not worried about what their reaction might be to the sex and violence that surrounds her in the movie: "I think I'm excited about them seeing it, because my parents are pretty open and pretty un-fazed by things so they don't generally go into things and then be like, 'oh my goodness, darling!' They saw Kaboom before I did. My mum got to come and visit me while I was shooting Killer Joe in New Orleans and hang out, so she's really excited to see it."
When, aged 14, she told her parents that she wanted to be an actress, they sent her to an open audition to sample what the experience of fighting for a role would be like. "That was Notes on a Scandal," which by some freak accident I ended up [being in], it was mental."
She grew up watching her dad's collection of laser discs, her favourites being the films of Jean Cocteau, and Powell and Pressburger. "When you see movies like that as a child it's like your imagination coming to life dancing on the screen in front of you. You're like, 'wow!' There's this one scene in La belle et la bête where the Beast is carrying Beauty and he takes her through this doorway and she's all dressed in rags and she's fainting, so she's wrapped in his giant arms and then as she goes through the doorway with him, her clothes change from rags to riches and as a child I was just like, 'why doesn't my bedroom do that?' That was a big moment where I thought, 'I want to make movies like that'. I was only like, four." Her favourite film is Badlands, which she says she watched a couple of times with her parents to get inspiration for Dottie.
"I think the important thing as an actor is you have to watch as much film as you possibly can; old films, new films, foreign film, films that you're, like, 'I don't understand what I'm watching but my god that's extraordinary', so that when you read scripts you know what you've liked and what you haven't. I think knowledge is the key to everything in life, you need to take in as much as you can."
'Killer Joe', 'The Dark Knight Rises', 'Jack and Diane', 'Small Apartments' and 'The Brass Teapot' will be out in 2012
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