Following up our our set visit with an exclusive interview with the actress
Back in the summer of 2005, we had the opportunity to speak exclusively with Emmy Rossum on the set of the blockbuster hit film, Poseidon. At the time, we knew how big this film was going to be - 5 gigantic sets, all upside down, and a cast that could be a who's who of Hollywood, including Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfuss, Mike Vogel, Jacinda Barrett, Jimmy Bennett, and Kevin Dillon.
At the press junket last week, MovieWeb was able to conduct a follow up interview with the lovely and talented Emmy to find out how she recovered from the many weeks of training and prepping for the film. She told me a lot about working with the actors in this film, and being under the wing of director Wolfgang Peterson.
We also got into the discussion of music; Emmy is moving back into that world, where she got her start as an opera singer at age 7. She's in the process of recording her first pop album for Geffen Records; she's hoping that'll be out sometime early next year.
Here's what esle we talked about:
This movie was so well done and I really enjoyed it.
Emmy Rossum: Yeah, and it's not even what any of us expected, like a bullet; we just saw it for the first time last night all put together. I was sitting next to Kurt and we were holding hands with freight and suspension the whole time holding our breaths; it's one of the most insane roller coaster rides ever.
I've seen a little clip in IMAX as well and it's definitely larger than life.
Emmy Rossum: Wow, I haven't seen it yet.
When you were a little girl, did you ever expect to be where you are today?
Emmy Rossum: Oh my gosh, I could have never anticipated it; I grew up and started working at the Metropolitan Opera at age 7 and I dreamed of being an opera singer. To have fate twist the way it did, to have gotten too tall for the children's costumes when I was 12, I just tried acting cause I liked the feeling of stage craft and the camaraderie; and that's what was so fun about making this movie was the ensemble. In Phantom of the Opera, I really had to carry that movie and that was a lot of responsibility and coming into this was so nice. It was kind of walking into experience, working with a lot of people and working with a lot of characters; so much of the movie is you're caring about the people you're with. And the four or five hours that might be the most important in your life might depend on people you hardly know and that's an amazing thing.
What was your first reaction when you heard you'd be playing Kurt Russell's daughter?
Emmy Rossum: It was incredible, it was kind of when I heard I was going to be Sean Penn's daughter. I've had so many opportunities in my short 7-year career so far and it's so exciting for me to get to work with people like this. Kurt has taught me so much about improvisation, things that I have never used before, in terms of how to use them in the moment on set. There are so many things that you couldn't have anticipated and couldn't be prepped for. We were in this situation, you knew it was going to have to get cranked up to an emotional level and it was going to make the film believable. When we were making this movie, we were sitting in our trailers watching (Hurricane) Katrina happen on television; Wolfgang sent me this script right after the tsunami hit, and it was so incredibly moving because of that. We felt a great deal of responsibility to the survivors of that to make this realistic, and I hope that we can bring a reality to it. A lot of what was written in the script seemed like it was written by Hollywood writers in some writing room somewhere; Kurt really taught me to take control of my character and not to be afraid to improvise and try new things. That's a freedom that I didn't learn on any other set where, in Mystic River, it's very concentrated, very deliberate, beats their head, emotionally; I only had 10 minutes in that movie to get across what I had to get across. In Phantom of the Opera, I had 2 hours to talk about a girl's psyche. Here, you have the four most important hours of this young girl's life where she is personally going through so much tumultuously, being a feisty, free thinking girl with this over bearing, political head father, mayor of New York; she's just trying to break out and be her own woman in a time where there's a disaster and all hell breaks loose, basically. And all that matters aren't the petty arguments about growing up, where and what are you doing, can you get married; all that matters is do you have everyone you love around you and how are you going to survive.
In the scene at the poker table, he tells you to button your top button; did you feel that was a bit of fatherly advice and protecting you from the outside world?
Emmy Rossum: Some of that was improvised, actually; the line about 'the twins' is totally my line, really. I just thought it up a few days before we shot the scene and it seemed kind of feisty, like he was telling her to 'close it up' and she's goating him and he's goating her, it's that kind of head-butting relationship of her being an independent woman and him being an independent man, and a daddy who thinks she's daddy's little girl.
What do you want people to expect when they see you're in a movie, or you're headlining a movie?
Emmy Rossum: I'd like them to know that I'll only do a movie if I think it's worth ten bucks; I really want it to be worth people's money, and I want it to be entertaining and meaningful. I feel like the movies I've done so far have done that, and working with Wolfgang Peterson, I really feel he has the perfect balance of suspense/action/thriller, and character and real gritty emotion and I hope that'll come across.
Is there a role or a character you'd want to play whom you haven't done so far?
Emmy Rossum: Yeah, something that challenges me; I know that's kind of a common answer, but that's something we look for, to be challenged and excited by material. I really want to do something that's inspiring, that's going to add or teach people something. I'd like to play a serial killer or a bad girl; I've never - this rebellious character is about the closest I've gotten so far, but I think everyone has that in them. Musically, I'm working on my first record and I'm really excited about that, too.
What is your process for getting people to hear your voice?
Emmy Rossum: I have a record label, Geffen, and I don't really live my life in the media, so really people don't know that much about me. I'm hoping this is really an artistic, poetic, lyrical way to tell people who I am inside. I feel like I've spent my life playing other people and investigating their hearts and souls; now it's kind of unique for me to spend time to think about myself and really develop myself. People say, 'Oh, you're almost 20 years old and this is the time you should be figuring out your ideas on life,' so I guess that's what I'm trying to do and defining for myself what life is or what love is or at least trying to and I hope that will reflect in the record. I think if you turn on the radio today, there's nothing that sounds truthful or emotional from people's hearts and souls; I think you feel it from David Gray, Sarah McLachlan, Jewel sometimes, sometimes Dolly Parton, I think people who talk from their heart. But I don't feel it enough from pop radio, top 40, so that's what I want to bring back a little.
If the music career takes off, do you put the acting career on a back burner?
Emmy Rossum: No, definitely not; I love both things totally equally and I hope people will take me seriously as a pop artist. It's not as if I'm an actress who wants to release a record, because I started in music and that's really where my heart and soul is. Film is something that took me in a completely different direction, but something I totally enjoy; it reaches such a large number of people. And I love creation, I love creativity in that way and that's what cool.
What kind of music do you listen to?
Emmy Rossum: Oh my gosh, so many things - everything from classical to country to rap to R & B; everything from R. Kelly to Faith Hill to Sarah McLachlan to Frou Frou to Eminem, kind of all over the place. As long as it's good, and it has good singers, I dig it.
Why have you chosen to stay outside the limelight?
Emmy Rossum: It's not really a conscious decision, it's just something that happens because I like to live in New York and I don't really run in that crowd, it's just not really for me. I don't think you can really do good work when you're living that kind of party lifestyle, and that's not really my kind of thing anyway. And I also don't think it bodes well for the longevity of a career and I want to be in this for the long haul.
You can check out Emmy and the rest of the cast of Poseidon when it ships into theaters May 12th; it's rated PG-13.
Read our other Poseidon interviews:
Exclusive with Emmy Rossum
Exclusive with Jimmy Bennett
Interview with Josh Lucas