Quint chats Scott Pilgrim and The Thing prequel with Ramona Flowers herself, Ms. Mary Elizabeth Winstead!
Published at: Aug. 9, 2010, 11:11 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with one of my three Scott Pilgrim interviews running this week. These interviews were done post-Comic-Con on the Universal backlot.
I’m starting off with the prettiest of the bunch: Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Sorry Jason Schwartzman and Brandon Routh… you guys are pretty, too, just not as pretty as her). You’ll notice we touch on both Scott Pilgrim and her role in the upcoming prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing.
I was given a set visit for The Thing prequel and while I had to redact some of the interview to not anger the embargo Gods we do discuss a few things that happened during my visit, including me witnessing Ms. Winstead attacking Joel Edgerton’s metal flamethrower pack with her face.
Hope you guys enjoy the brief chat with Ms. Romana Flowers herself!
Quint: I saw you dive head first into that flame thrower. Everybody kinda sucked in their breaths.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: It was painful. Yeah, I was like what I would imagine it would feel like to get punched really hard, but yeah thank you.
It turned out to be fine. The medic was all like “You are going to have a black eye” and they were all trying to figure out how to do the make-up and stuff, but then I iced it and the next day it was like healed. Yeah, it was good.
Quint: No scars? I don’t see your battle scars.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: No, I really thought I had put my eye out. It was not as nearly as bad as I thought it was.
Quint: Well now you have something for the blooper reel.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: For sure!
Quint: So yeah, I saw the movie at Comic Con. I was there on Thursday…
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Cool! That was the best time to see it, I think.
Quint: That was nuts. Now if I remember correctly, when you first pop up, you got a big cheer.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: I think everyone did.
Quint: See that speaks well to the world that Bryan Lee O’Malley created.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Absolutely. They love the characters.
Quint: Everyone has a favorite character. It’s not like everybody just likes Han Solo or something.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Yeah, absolutely. Every single character… Stacy and Wallace and Aubrey’s character… everybody has fans, you know? It’s really cool.
Quint: My favorite characters in the movie were you and Wallace.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Aw, thank you so much.
Quint: Wallace was more of a translation angle, like “Oh, I’m so glad that all of the humor from Wallace comes through and Kieran [Culkin] was perfect in the role,” but you, I think, had a little bit of a tougher job, because if you don’t buy Ramona that movie falls apart. Honestly the character is teetering on being somebody really despicable...
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Yeah, absolutely. I definitely worried about that, to be honest. When I first took it on, it was sort of like “What do I do? I don’t want people to think she’s a bitch” and how do you play someone who doesn’t show their emotions? How do you play someone who is too guarded to ever let you know what they are thinking or feeling and still get across that they are human and they do have feelings? So, it was definitely the most challenging part I have ever had to play. I basically had to just constantly be feeling a lot of things and just bottle it up. Every scene I was in I was trying to bottle up whatever I was feeling.
Quint: In the books, that line didn’t seem as thin to me for whatever reason, but just watching the physical version of that happen and even Scott, to a degree, could be a complete dick.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Absolutely. They are the same in that way of kind of treating people in a kind of thoughtless way and you still have to like them, yeah.
Quint: The biggest compliment I can say is that I really did see the character’s love for Scott.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Oh, good. Thank you so much.
Quint: Even thought there’s not really a lot of chance for you to show it.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Yeah, I was so happy watching the film feeling like everything worked and I know I had to trust Edgar [Wright], because I don’t think he would settle for anything less than perfect and so I had to kind of put any fears like that out of my mind and think “If Edgar thinks it works, it works. Don’t question it.”
Quint: And the shoot was long, right?
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: There was some tedious stuff, but I think we all knew it was going to be worth it, so I don’t think we felt annoyed by that or anything. We knew that he was trying to get something perfect, because the whole film had to be at this level that was unparalleled you know and we all knew that it was going to be something really special.
Quint: I assume you had to look at Bryan’s book…
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Yeah.
Quint: … to get a lot of the context of the humor because so much of that is like layer upon layer upon layer of visual gags that you can read in a script, but not fully understand until you see it played out.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Yeah. The cool thing is that with all of the graphics and everything, it’s all kind of bonuses, because I never… People keep asking “What was it like shooting green screen?” and I don’t feel like we did much of that. I feel like it all felt really real and there were so many exciting things happening in camera, like so many fun things like sight gags and things that were actually happening around us to react to that it didn’t feel like there was a lot of pretending, like looking at a stick. There wasn’t as much of that as you would expect.
Quint: Yeah, well those stages were incredible. We were there at Gideon’s club.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: I know, that was like sensory overload as it was just there and then to add to that is just mind-blowing.
Quint: So did you get to talk to a lot of fans at the Con about the movie and hear their reactions to it?
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: I did, yeah. The best thing was I did an autograph signing like the last day I was there, so a lot of people had had a chance to see it by then and they were all just like so excited about it and just glowing and just to know that they were the true fans, like they were like the real fans of the books and they are the ones who were going to be really upset if it it didn’t work, so you know if they are happy that you…
Quint: So that was the gauge of this film’s success? It wasn’t so much the screening or anything like that? You just seeing how long that autograph line was?
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: (laughs) It was more about just the things they were saying, you know and how excited they were to be there and how they were all like “I saw the movie and loved it” and was like “It was perfect.” The screening… That was crazy; to hear the cheers and the laughter and like to hear how excited they were was just… We were all in tears afterwards because it just felt so good to know that it meant so much to so many people and that they felt like we got it right.
Quint: I have to say I knew Edgar cast well from that very first picture that he teased you with where it was just your eyes over the sheet of paper. I’m like “Yeah, that’s Ramona’s eyes. She’s got Ramona’s eyes, yeah.”
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Oh, really? (laughs) That’s so funny. I think that’s kind of the main reason I got cast to be honest.
Quint: (laughs) Because of your eyes?
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: And I didn’t even know what anybody was talking about. Everybody was like “Oh, you have Ramona’s eyes!” I didn’t know until I did DEATH PROOF and I was doing a lot of things with my eyes and Quentin [Tarantino] kept commenting on it and I was like “What are you talking about? What?” So now I’m capitalizing on that.
Quint: You shot that in my hometown. I’m an Austin boy.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: You are? My fiancé is from Austin. We are getting married there in October.
Quint: You are getting married there?
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: In Austin.
Quint: October, okay October is safe. I heard August for a second and I’m like “Oh you don’t want to do August in Austin.” Are you coming out to the big screening?
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Yeah, the screening. I’m really excited.
Quint: I don’t know if we can top the 13,000 people in one room, but the Austin audiences are crazy cool.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: They are going to be packed.
Quint: Have you ever been to one of the Alamos?
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Oh yeah! We used to go all of the time.
Quint: Oh yeah, because you were there with Quentin of course. You must have seen a shit ton of his prints.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Yeah. I used to go all of the time to Austin to visit and stuff, so yeah I used to go there all of the time.
Quint: Alright, so that wont be a new experience, but you know the Austin audiences.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: But it will be awesome to have a film of mine there, you know? That will be really cool.
Quint: Well especially a film that will play to a crowd. I think Ain’t It Cool is hosting this screening, so we are going to fill it with a lot of geeks.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Yay!
Quint: Cool, so what are you working on next? Obviously you have THE THING coming out next year.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Yeah, I mean I just wrapped that like three weeks ago or less. So now I’m kind of focusing on promoting SCOTT PILGRIM and we will see.
Quint: I’m a big fan of THE THING. I love that movie so much, so I told (producer) Eric Newman that when I went out to the set (visit currently embargoed, but forthcoming) “I’m not an easy sell on this. You are really going to have to prove that this is worthy to join that universe…”
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: The fans are hardcore about that film, definitely.
Quint: But what I saw was pretty great. I loved how much was being done in-camera.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: I’m really excited about it. I think everyone involved was really genuinely wanting to make it as good as it could be. There was nobody who was just like “This will be an easy buck. We can take this movie and do a prequel of it and blah…” Everybody was a true fan and everybody was like “Okay, let’s make the performances great, let’s made the aliens amazing…” I’m really excited to see it.
Quint: It stands a good shot of being cool and I really like just how they were presenting your character in the movie… Here’s the thing, you are a beautiful woman, they put you in a movie like that and people are like “Oh now suddenly it’s not going to have the realism, she’s not going to fit in with this world, etc.” I don’t mean to say that they plained you up, but they kind of did.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Absolutely. It was kind of liberating. They wanted me in no make- up. Any time the makeup artists would come in to do anything, Matthijs [Van Heijningen Jr.] would be like “What are you doing? Go away. I don’t want any make-up!” It wasn’t like trying to make me look masculine or anything either, which I thought was cool. It’s just that I’m a girl who is really intellectual and can take care of herself.
Quint: You have to buy that your character… Was it archeology that you were into?
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Paleontologist.
Quint: Yeah, you have to be able to buy that character’s knowledge of Paleontology.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Absolutely and I kind of based a lot of her personality on my sister, who is a neurologist. She is extremely intelligent and spent her entire life in school, never wore make-up and never cared about her clothes and all of that stuff, so I kind of just thought that that’s the kind of person that that character is.
Quint: To me, that’s even more beautiful, just somebody who is comfortable with who they are.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Right, absolutely. Hopefully… I’m excited about it. I know… I read stuff. I’m a total Internet geek, so I read all of “Oh, why’d they cast her? That’s so stupid!” But I’m like “No, just wait and see. You guys will be surprised.”
Quint: I think you are going to earn a whole lot of fans with this movie.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Thank you so much.
Quint: And I’m not just blowing smoke here. That really impressed me, that performance.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Thank you.
Quint: It could have been something that could have easily not worked.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: That means a lot. It’s really so good to hear that, so yeah that’s awesome.
Quint: All right, well good luck with they rest of the guys and the press. It was good seeing you again.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: I’m glad I got to talk to you after I missed talking to you last time.
One down, two more to go! Watch for two of the evil exes to be interviewed on this very website over the next 48 hours. Plus I know Beaks got some interviews as well. So prepare to be assaulted with Pilgrim interviews!
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