The actress who plays Kim in the year's sleeper hit talks about her role, working with Liam Neeson and future projects
Maggie Grace is a name and a face that you might recognize if you followed a certain J.J. Abrams series from the beginning. After getting her start in TV films like Murder in Greenwich, where she portrayed Martha Moxley, it didn't take long for Grace to find her way onto a hit series, which is exactly what she did when she landed the role of Shannon Rutherford on Lost. She's also appeared in such films as The Fog and The Jane Austen Book Club. She returned to the silver screen earlier this year with the biggest surprise hit of the year, Taken, which is coming to DVD and Blu-ray on May 12. I had the chance to speak with Grace, who plays Liam Neeson's kidnapped daughter, Kim, and here's what she had to say.
So how did you first come on to this project, and what did you think after you read the script for the first time?
Maggie Grace: I was pretty blown away by the script. It was pretty tight and I've read a lot of action-thrillers and I just felt this was pretty fantastic. Of course, going into it knowing its (writer-producer) Luc Besson, I'm a huge fan of Leon: The Professional.
So how did you go about preparing to play Kim? Did you do any research or talk to any kidnapping experts or anything like that?
Maggie Grace: No, because she's so ill-prepared going into it. It was more about finding the relationship, or lack thereof, with her father and needing to get to know him as she was coming of age, in a different way. Also, they wanted to keep her pretty young, pretty innocent. She's had a very sheltered existence thus far. I live in L.A., so I don't have a very sheltered existence, really.
Yeah, me too. So there is quite a cast you worked with here, with Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Katie Cassidy and everyone else. How did you enjoy working with this cast and what kinds of things did you pick up from these veterans like Liam and Famke?
Maggie Grace: Gosh. Liam, I was so excited to work with and terrified to meet. I've made a list, about two months before I'd actually started shooting. It's funny, because I hadn't even heard of the script yet, but I was making a list of people I wanted to work with, because I'm a huge dork and I do that every year (Laughs). It's just what movies I'd seen recently and who I was impressed by and would like to work with, like this cinematographer and this director and whatnot. I put Liam at the top of the list, the male actor list, because I had just seen Schindler's List again and Michael Collins, and I was just like, 'God, what an incredible actor.' It was shortly after that, that I had got the script and thought it was pretty neat.
So who's at the top of the list now then?
Maggie Grace: (Laughs) Well, mostly it's been director's lately. (Darren) Aronofsky is pretty high up.
So, you shot this in Paris, and some in California as well, so had you ever worked in Paris before, and what was it like being on location there?
Maggie Grace: I had been to Paris, kind of working my way through Europe with a girlfriend of mine, more on the cheap. I was very much a tourist, and then coming back and spending six weeks there and having friends in Paris and, also, of course, the whole crew, it was just a completely different city. I just fell head over heels for it.
So was that trip you took when you were younger kind of like your character's trip in the film?
Maggie Grace: Yeah, actually (Laughs). It's kind of similar. We made some really stupid decisions - not quite as stupid as getting in taxi's with strange, suspicious boys, but I'm sure we did some pretty stupid things. We ended up staying in a really bad part of Paris and some friends of ours had to rescue us and tell us where we ought to be staying and where we ought not.
Yeah, I went to Paris when I was younger as well, but it was more of a school thing, more controlled.
Maggie Grace: We just rolled into Gare du Nord with some cash and started walking with our little carry-on bags (Laughs). We sort of got off the train and started walking, so it wasn't terribly well-planned, but we did all right. We were pretty alert travelers.
So, Pierre Morrel has really become a director to keep an eye on lately, so how would you describe working with him and how would you compare him to other directors you've worked with?
Maggie Grace: Oh, I loved it. He has such a specific idea, going into it, of what he wants, and he's so detail-oriented and his visual style is amazing. He was Luc Besson's right hand for many many years and here in the States, it's pretty strict about the director doing the camera work versus the DP. There's very specific rules that everyone adheres to and there it's a little different and he just decided he wanted to do pretty much all of his camera work. So he's hanging out of windows in a body harness and he'd do whatever it takes to get the shot.
So is it more of a freer experience, filming with those kind of filmmakers as opposed to the American system?
Maggie Grace: Yeah, I suppose so. It was a little bit smaller crew, and a pretty tight group too, because people have worked together so much, it's a smaller community. But I'd say it was a fantastic experience. And I have to say it was really tightly edited as well.
Do you have a favorite scene or moment on the set that sticks out, when you were filming this?
Maggie Grace: I'm just trying to think... I just remember the moment before I get abducted, Pierre was actually hanging out of a fifth-story window in a harness, and it wasn't even buckled. It was such a cowboy move and I think I was more terrified that my director might come to harm than anything (Laughs). I was also quite authentically nervous, I think.
The film was really the sleeper hit of the year. It opened modestly and then just kept picking up steam, so how do you think this would've fared if it would've got a summer release instead of a January release?
Maggie Grace: Things are so topsy-turvy right now with the industry, the threat of another strike and financing being what it is, it's hard to say. I think all of our guidelines are kind of changing.
Yeah. It was just great to watch and seeing the box office takes every week and it really wouldn't stop. It was pretty amazing.
Maggie Grace: It was pretty incredible for me. It blew me away. I mean, I hoped it would do well, but I was totally unprepared for that (Laughs).
There's been some talk of a sequel already, so is there anything that you've heard of in that area, or anything you can share about that?
Maggie Grace: Well, I can't speak to that on an official level, but I will say I've definitely heard those rumors and I think they're fantastic. That's a cool spy answer. 'If I tell you, then I'd have to kill you.'
Very covert, yes. So you also have Malice in Wonderland coming out, I believe this year. Have you seen anything from that lately, or what can you tell us about that film?
Maggie Grace: I haven't seen a final cut yet. I just went in for ADR, so they're still in post, but it's pretty cool. It's really odd, which I love. Odd in the best way possible.
Do you know if they're aiming for a 2009 release for that then?
Maggie Grace: I think towards the end of the year, from what I've heard.
You had a character on TVn4jsswZt38qr||Lost} for a few years, so is there any chance they'd bring you back for the last season? No one is ever really quite dead on that show, so...
Maggie Grace: (Laughs) Oh God. Perhaps some sort of undead zombie. They'll decide to take a real sci-fi turn.
Finally, the film was such a sleeper hit and with the movie coming out on DVD, what would you like to say to those who might not have caught this in the theater to give it a chance on DVD?
Maggie Grace: It could be seen as a departure for Liam, but he makes such an incredible action hero. He kicks some serious butt, so it's a fun, tight, international thriller.
Nice, nice. Well, that's about all I have for you. Thanks so much for your time today, Maggie, and the best of luck with your upcoming films.
Maggie Grace: Thanks much. Bye.