Mary Elizabeth Winstead Q&A

Scott Pilgrim's rollerblading ninja delivery chick speaks to SFX

SFX Who is Ramona Flowers?

Mary Elisabeth Winstead Ramona is a bit of a mysterious, enigmatic character. She comes into Scott’s life by travelling through his dreams, she’s using his head as a sub-space highway to get where she has to go, and consequently he becomes a bit obsessed with her. They start a relationship, but once they start dating he finds out she has all these exes and they form this evil league and they’re coming for him. She doesn’t want any of that but it comes with being who she is and it’s kind of a drag.

SFX Were you approached by (director) Edgar Wright to play the part or did you have to lobby for the role?

MEW It was kind of crazy I was approached by Edgar surprisingly. This is the kind of movie that I would have killed and done anything to be a part of and somehow I just got lucky. Edgar saw some of my other work my other films and thought that I would be a good fit for Ramona, so basically my audition process consisted of several meetings for coffee with him, talking about the books and the character and eventually working my way up to getting to read the script. It was kind of a miraculous thing.

SFX How did Edgar pitch the film to you at that first meeting, because it’s not the easiest film to explain?

MEW Yeah, he gave me the book. At the time there were three books out and our first meeting we didn’t talk too much about the project we just got to know each other a little bit and he sent me the books and said let me know what you think. I instantly found them so entertaining I just breezed through them so quickly and thought they were so fun and thought the character was just amazing and iconic and just cool and strong, such a rare kind of role for a girl to get to play in a film. I wasn’t sure how he was going to be able to bring it to the big screen but I felt being a huge fan of his he was the person to do it so I thought it was really exciting.

SFX Does Ramona get to use any of the crazy weapons from the comics?

MEW Yes I did! I have my giant hammer, or mallet. That was fun to use and I felt quite bad-ass swinging that thing around, and then I have a second fight where I swing a similar sort of weapon but slightly different.

SFX What makes the fights in Scott Pilgrim so unique?

MEW Well I’ve never seen anything onscreen that looks so much like a live action videogame. It really blew me away when I saw it onscreen because doing it just felt like excellent choreographed kung-fu fight scenes. But then seeing it onscreen it went even further than that to something which hasn’t really been done before – a mish-mash of awesome music, awesome fight choreography, extremely fast pace and really cool onscreen graphics. So I think it’s something new and exciting.

SFX What do you think the cutting edge soundtrack brings to the film?

MEW The music is one of the things I’m most excited about because it’s so good and it’s been so exciting to be part of a film that has so much original music from so many amazing artists, like all these original Beck songs and Metric, Dan the Automator, Nigel Godrich, Cornelius. It’s incredible to think they love the project enough to work on it and write original stuff for it. Music really sets the tone and energy of the film.

SFX What was the experience like on an Edgar Wright set?

MEW It was an experience unlike any other I’ve had on a set because we all had to be so aware of our expressions and our movements and the way the camera was coming in. You had to be aware of everything around you at the same time as trying to give a good performance so it was quite a challenge in that way but a fun one nonetheless and a rewarding one because you see how cool it ends up looking and how stylised it is and how unique it is and it was great to be a part of that. You can’t blink, that’s one of the main things, no blinking, if you’re going to smile you’ve got to do it the right way there can’t be a lot of naturalistic expressions and things like that because it all has to fit in with this comic book world. We all had to do a very specific form of acting.

SFX No blinking? That sounds a bit harsh!

MEW Ha, well he was always funny about it, like “no blinking, no blinking! Do it again! He was always sort of light-hearted about it and joking about it but at the end of the day it had to be perfect and we all wanted it to be perfect for him and for the film so we were all happy to go along.

SFX How much did you draw on comics when playing Ramona?

MEW I looked at the comics a lot because you do get to see a bit more of who Ramona is in the comics just because there’s more material so I think I looked to it to get ideas about who she is as a person, also the way that she holds herself, her facial expressions. Even though sometimes it may seem like they’re simplistic drawings visually we took a lot from the books to the film and so it was great to look at that and before each scene go back to the books and refer to it and say ok this is how she’s sitting, this is how her face looks. We really tried to make everything specific in that way in the books.

SFX Did Bryan offer you any words of advice?

MEW Yeah, he was really great. I met him several times and one of the most helpful things he did was he gave all the actors a private “10 things about your character nobody else knows” and that was extremely helpful to have – they were all really interesting things that helped me bring Ramona to life and helped give a sense of who she really is.

Scott Pilgrim Versus The World is released in cinemas across the UK this week courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Jordan Farley
Deputy Editor, Total Film

I'm the Deputy Editor at Total Film magazine, overseeing the features section of every issue where you can read exclusive, in-depth interviews and see first-look images from the biggest films. I was previously the News Editor at sci-fi, fantasy and horror movie bible SFX. You'll find my name on news, reviews, and features covering every type of movie, from the latest French arthouse release to the biggest Hollywood blockbuster. My work has also featured in Official PlayStation Magazine and Edge.