Playing Jane Eyre
Did you feel any pressure in portraying such a well known, well loved character?
“Yeah, definitely. People have a really strong idea of who she is and so you’re basically hoping that they will connect or accept your version.”
What was it about this version that attracted you?
“The challenge is that the book, start to finish, is Jane Eyre’s internal monologue – everything we know is because of what we’re hearing directly from her. So my concern was ‘how do we keep that intensity?
“I was excited about seeing how we could portray all that’s going on inside, all that she’s observing and feeling, thinking.”
Playing Strong Characters
Do you think she’s a strong character?
“Absolutely. She has such originality of thought and such a strong sense of self. Everything that she knows is because of what she’s taught herself and she’s literally figured everything out for herself from her experiences. Instead of making her weaker they’ve made her stronger, she’s not victimised by the harsh things that she’s faced.
“I think it’s so admirable to believe that you are worthy of having a good life and being treated right and to not compromise for anything. She really doesn’t compromise herself for anybody and she has such a strong idea of what’s right and wrong. I would like to think that I can try and do that as well."
Let’s talk about the accent – was it hard to pull off as an Aussie?
“I’ve done an English accent before and I really like doing it but this had a hint of a northern English accent, which I had really wanted to play around with because I liked the idea of Jane not being entirely polished and not having perfect pronunciation.
“It’s definitely harder than just a plain English accent because we don’t hear it as much.”
Starring opposite Michael Fassbender
There’s some serious sexual chemistry going on between you and Michael Fassbender as Mr Rochester - especially during one scene where you very nearly kiss…
“It’s great that people react to that moment so strongly. You never know, you really hope that that chemistry will happen.
“It’s funny because it was the last scene [ we filmed ] and everyone was so tired and so silly by then. I was off my rocker that day and I remember trying to reel it in to have the seriousness to do this scene.
“But the chemistry between the characters is part of the attraction of the story. [ Rochester and Jane are ] kind of magnetised to each other. Michael’s just so incredible, he’s so charismatic himself, we got on so well and we were able to have a lot of fun and then channel that fun into the intensity of the material.”
We hear that Michael’s horse also felt he was charismatic because it got ‘excited’ whenever he sat on it?
“Oh my god! That story. But it’s true, he had an incredible effect on those poor horses! Every time it happened they had to get him off the horse, run the poor horse around the block until it would go away.
“But it happened in rehearsals and when we were shooting…it just kept happening.”
Almost starring in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
The rumour mill says you turned down the role of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo for Fincher. True?
“It’s funny because that story’s kind of been a little dramatised. I was never offered the role, I was in discussion but I like to do very diverse things and it was a big time commitment.
“He’s a fantastic director though I really admire him, and the stories are great, I love them.”
Appearing in Albert Nobbs with Glenn Close
You’re also appearing in the upcoming Albert Nobbs with Glenn Close – how was that?
“I am so excited for that film. This is Glenn’s passion project. She was one of the writers and she produced it and she played one of the characters on an off-Broadway play ten years ago. So she’s really poured her heart and soul into it.
“We shot it in Ireland – I do an Irish accent – and I had so much fun. It’s a really great story and really wonderful characters and just very unusual, very different from anything that I think that’s been made before.”
You’ve got A View from the Bridge and Stoker coming up too – you’re busy…
“I could have dreamed of this stuff but never really guessed it could have happened. You have to have a certain amount of self-delusion to believe at least it’s a tiny bit possible, and then it’s still such a surprise for it to happen.
“I feel so incredibly grateful to be given the opportunities and to play these kinds of characters and be trusted with these roles.”
What do you want to do next?
“Who knows? I’d just like to keep doing things that challenge me. I think it’s really important to do things that are different so you stay interested.”
Jane Eyre is out on DVD and Blu-ray now.