Emily Browning talks about her lead role on the film, her new gig on Sucker Punch and much more
Emily Browning did something that most young actresses wouldn't after landing a major role in a big studio film. Browning, who portrayed young Violet in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, actually took a three-year break from acting in 2005 to finish her schooling. Now she's getting back to work with the lead role in The Uninvited, which will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on April 28. I had the chance to speak with Browning over the phone about her new film, and here's what she had to say.
This is the first film you've done in about four years or so, after taking some time off to finish school. What was it about this movie that made it your first film back after your hiatus?
Emily Browning: Well, I really wanted the first film back to be very different from Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. That was a kids film so I wanted something a little bit more mature. I don't even know if mature is even the right word, just something different and I thought a horror/thriller was the opposite end of the scale. At the time, I thought I would be easing myself in by doing a small role, because I was originally cast as Alex. It was going to be a small role in this horror film and then all of the sudden they told me they wanted me to do the lead, so it just kind of happened really quick like that. I guess that was kind of the logic behind it.
This was based off the earlier Korean film, but some of these Asian horror remakes we see these days, those movies really seem like they're remakes of Asian horror films and this one really doesn't. Was that kind of the intention, to really set it apart from the original film?
Emily Browning:I think so, yeah. When I first read the script, I had seen the original film and we weren't doing an exact remake of it. I think it was just kind of based on the fact that they wanted to re-tell that story. I'm pretty sure that the basic story of the film has been around for a really long time, and I think it was just a re-telling of that story. It was totally different from the original film, for sure.
I haven't seen the original, so is it just pretty much the two sisters element that is kept the same from the two movies?
Emily Browning: Yeah. It's weird, this is the first interview I've done, so I'm not sure what to give away, but yeah. It was, honestly, pretty confusing. The original was a beautiful film and I think that was kind of the point that you don't quite understand everything. It was quite confusing and I think ours is a little more straight-forward. But yeah, it was that same basic idea in both.
I loved both you and Arielle (Kebbel) as the sisters. You really seemed like you bonded on the movie, so what was it like when you guys first met? Did it click right away with you both?
Emily Browning: Well, actually, not really. We first met in an audition in L.A. and I had just found out that they had wanted me to be Anna. I had actually gone up to L.A. to read against other people as Anna. So Arielle came in and I'm really shy and quiet and she's very loud and out there, so at first it was like, 'Oh my God. We're just both so completely different.' Then I heard she got the part and I went, 'Oh no. I hope we get along.' Then as soon as we got to Canada she called me up and said, 'Let's go to dinner,' so we ended up staying at dinner for six hours just talking, so it was really lucky that we clicked completely. Still, when we first met, I was a little bit worried (Laughs).
I caught the special features as well, and you talk about working with the Guard Brothers, the two directors. Have you ever worked with a two-director team before, and how does they compare to anyone else you've worked with?
Emily Browning: I've never worked with two directors before and I was a little bit worried about that. I thought, what if they have conflicting ideas, who do you listen to? Is there a hierarchy? But I think they just read each other's minds. I don't think they ever told us anything different or separate. They all just wanted pretty much exactly the same thing. It was crazy. I was really lucky because it kind of meant that they were kind of like one person who could be at two places at once, so it made it kind of easier. But yeah, the dynamics were fine. It wasn't tough at all. It was different than working with one director, obviously, but it wasn't as challenging as I thought it would be.
Aside from Arielle, you have two fantastic actors around you in David Strathairn and Elizabeth Banks. How did you like working with them and what kinds of things did you pick up or learn from having them on the set?
Emily Browning: Well, they weren't there enough. I wish they were there more, to be honest. I didn't get to see them that much, but they were both kind of the complete opposite. David was just really - he was hilarious and he has this dry sense of humor - but he was really quiet and I definitely learned from him, with the amazing actor that he is, you have to just listen. You have to be there, you have to just sit there and listen. I was doing a part with him and he was just sitting there the whole time. I was like, 'Oh my God, is he OK? Is he angry or something?' He's just really taking in everyone and I guess that's how he understands human behavior so well and can recreate it so well, because he just listens. He was so lovely as well. He was not even slightly affected by the fact that he was nominated for an Oscar. My boyfriend and I didn't have a car when were there and he would call up and be like, 'Do you want to borrow my car so you can go up to the music festival?' He was just the coolest guy ever. And Elizabeth Banks, I was really really impressed with the fact that she is just this hilarious woman, she is really funny, and she's just this horrible bitch in the film (Laughs). She was probably the most inclined to the way I work, which is totally serious and as soon as they call cut, she's telling jokes. It was really cool to know that there's another actor out there that does that, because I do that all the time and I worry that it makes me unprofessional.
I watched the Alternate Ending on the DVD, so I was curious about which one of the two was the original scripted ending, and do you know why they went with the ending that they did?
Emily Browning: I haven't seen the DVD yet. Things changed around so much in the film, because they were trying to keep it secret, and they would write things differently and change things. Sometimes Arielle and I would come up and be like, 'Guys, we have to change this, because they're going to find out.' I don't even know what the alternate ending was (Laughs).
Yeah, it's not a huge scene or anything, but it's quite a different take, so I was curious if you'd seen that or not.
Emily Browning Yeah. It's been so long ago that I don't think I can actually remember what the original ending was, but I'm pretty sure the original ending was the one that was in the film. We filmed quite a few.
It doesn't look like you've done much horror before, so when you actually watched this for the first time, can you separate yourself from the work and were you actually scared or jumpy when you first saw this?
Emily Browning: It's strange because I love horror films, but it's more than an adrenaline rush for me. I love them because I know they scare me. It's kind of like I go on roller coasters, but I'm terrified of roller coasters, sort of thing. But I knew exactly what was there and I can't really separate myself. I know when scary parts are coming so I know when to cover my eyes. So yeah, it's pretty lame. I probably shouldn't have admitted that.
So, congratulations are in order for landing the Sucker Punch role. Have you been working with Zack (Snyder) on your character for that, or is there anything you can say about that?
Emily Browning: Well, I'm still in Australia and he's over in the States, so there will be some of that happening when we're in Canada, but I've met him and he's just such a cool guy. It was all a big surprise, so I don't know anything right now. My manager is coming down from the States tomorrow to visit me, so he's going to tell me what's going on. Right now, I'm completely in the dark.
Nobody has really heard any news on this front for awhile, but have you heard any talk of possibly another Lemony Snicket at all, or is that just pretty much dead?
Emily Browning: I think it's pretty much dead. I think we're too old. I personally was never a fan of the idea of doing a sequel. As much as I loved doing that film, I get really bored, really quickly and the idea of playing a certain character again, or going back to a character, makes me restless I guess. I get really bored and want to do different things, but no, I haven't heard of anything. I mean, it was the same producers on Lemony Snicket that it was on The Uninvited and I never heard anything. People ask me this all the time and I just go, 'Sorry. It's not up to me.'
So, finally, The Uninvited hits the DVD shelves on the 28th, so for those who might not have caught it in the theaters, what would you like to say to those who haven't seen it, to give it a chance on DVD?
Emily Browning: It's just a different take on the teen horror film. Hopefully it's a little more intelligent and, me, if I wasn't in it, I would go and see it because I really like the idea that it's three, really strong female characters and it's a female-driven story.
Emily Browning: Excellent. Well, that's about all I have for you. Thanks so much for your time and the best of luck with Sucker Punch and everything else.
Emily Browning: Thank you very much.
You can see Emily Browning alongside Arielle Kebbel, David Strathairn and Elizabeth Banks when the thriller The Uninvited hits the shelves on DVD and Blu-ray on April 28.