Last week Movieweb had the opportunity to talk with actress Emmy Rossum to discuss her role in Warner Bros. planned 2006 Summer release, Poseidon. The film, which is a remake of the 1972 epic The Poseidon Adventure, is set in the present day and follows a cast of characters, led by Dylan Johns (Josh Lucas) and Robert Ramsey (Kurt Russell) as they attempt to survive after a rogue wave flips the S.S. Poseidon which they are traveling on.
Rossum plays Russell’s daughter, Jennifer Ramsey. For an actress who has worked (and is currently working) with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, one might be taken aback with her down to earth nature. From offering refreshments from her trailer, to dissecting the different roles she has played, I found Emmy Rossum to be every bit as sincere as the characters she inhabits.
Could you tell us about your role in Poseidon?
Emmy Rossum: I’m playing Jennifer. She is traveling on the cruise ship with her father played by Kurt Russell. And she’s 19. She is little rebellious but very loving. Very compassionate. A little bit feisty, but feminine and vulnerable too. So I think she has a lot of reality within her, which I like a lot because you have to choose that for her personality. She’s not a typical girl in a movie. She’s not a damsel in distress. She’s very proactive. She’s very strong in situations. Even though she’s very vulnerable and very affected by what’s going on around her.
What’s like working such actors as Kurt Russell and Richard Dreyfuss?
Emmy Rossum: Awesome! Awesome! I count my blessings that I have had the opportunity to work on the movies that I have with such great actors. I’m still young. I’m almost 19, so just to be able to watch great people like Richard, like Kurt is really exciting.
How about working with Wolfgang Petersen? Who makes these big sea movies like The Perfect Storm or Das Boot?
Emmy Rossum: Which is one of my favorite movies, and Perfect Storm too, so I was really excited to get the opportunity to work with him. He is one of the kindest people I have ever worked for or even met... ever. He is so in control and so professional and so intelligent. So warm and compassionate and really understands characters and that’s just... he’s just fabulous.
What’s it like to make a transition from a film like Songcatcher, to doing movies like The Day After Tomorrow or Poseidon?
Emmy Rossum: Well, I did come out of much smaller, indy filmmaking, which I still love. It’s all about character. They don’t have the kind of money that I’ve had on these past few movies, within the budgets at least, to make these kinds of special fx, so they solely rely on characters and their interactions. You know I’ve always approached even the bigger movies, that I’ve been doing more recently, the same way. As I am any other character in a movie without special fx, and try to bring the same amount of reality even amidst all that; all the spectacle around you. Be it Phantom of the Opera, or water and a disaster like this.
How do you choose your roles? What’s your thought process when you’re offered a script?
Emmy Rossum: Well, I definitely look for something that I think is going to mean something to people, and something that I think is going to be entertaining too. Because we make movies for people to go and have a good time and to escape for 2 hours. So, I need to accomplish those two things. I need to feel like there’s something really meaningful in a story... that’s worth being told, and also something that’s going to be a lot of fun for people to watch. In terms of the characters, I definitely do look for somebody that I think people can learn from and I can learn from too. In one way or another, by the fact that they are a role or by that fact that they aren’t a role model. I feel like I was attracted to the past few characters that I’ve played, because they have an element that really touched my heart. Like I felt in Phantom of the Opera, that character was so compassionate and that really said something to me, personally, about accepting everyone for who they are naturally. And by not judging people from their exteriors, I think that that really touched me inside. And I think that this movie, is really about how people deal with each other in times of conflict. In times where you’re not sure if you’re going to make it or not. I think that there’s also such a human element in this movie, because everyone can really identify with the 7 characters that you see in this movie, and that you really follow through the movie. They’re all from such different places in life, different ages, from around the world, they’re different people. And I think they’re very distinct characters. Very separate entities and I think people will find a way to connect with one, if not more, of the characters in that way. Because they are so distinct and real.
Do you think that your early start in the opera helped prepare you to be on a movie set and work with the actors that you have? Or do you think that they’re two totally separate worlds?
Emmy Rossum: It’s funny because I think starting in the opera, it was such a larger then life experience, because you’re on the stage every night, in front of thousands of people, and there were horses and donkeys and Zeffirelli Productions, and costumes and Placido Domingo and music, and it was just so extraordinary. Then I got to my first set and I was like, ‘This is so small!’...
We both laugh.
Emmy Rossum: Then I suppose the productions I have done more recently have felt more like that big extravaganza. It also hit me what a downsize it was. In terms of the set, I think also made me realize how different the performance has to be. Theater is such a different ballgame than film. And that’s really why I stayed in film, because I really love the reality of connecting with your own feelings, and really putting that across in a realistic way. In film, the smallest muscular movements in your face, that are produced just by sheer feelings, you’re not controlling them in anyway, can be seen by people in the audience because your face is sometimes, frighteningly, 40 feet wide! In theater, you have to still project what you’re feeling because there’s someone sitting up in the family circle and they want to understand the show too.
What do you have coming up next?
Emmy Rossum: This!
And that’s good!
Emmy Rossum: This for the next few months and I’m very excited about it. I’ve never had a more fun time working on a movie. It’s just such a wonderful experience working for Wolfgang. I’m so happy to be here. I’m happy to come to work everyday. I’ve been hoping to go do something smaller, but then I get these great scripts, with these great characters, and I don’t really care what kind of movie it is as long as it’s something meaningful to me and I think people will enjoy it.
Poseidon, starring Kurt Russell, Richard Dreyfuss, Josh Lucas, Mike Vogel, Andre Braugher, Mia Maestro, Freddy Rodriguez, Kevin Dillon, Jacinda Barrett and Jimmy Bennett will be steering it’s way into theaters May 12th, 2006.
Stay tuned for our full report from the set!