Emily Mortimer enjoys her work in 'Lars and the Real Girl'

Posted: October 19, 2007

TORONTO - One of the hits at the Toronto International Film Festival last month was the Ryan Gosling romantic sex-doll comedy, "Lars and the Real Girl," opening today. (See Gary Thompson's review on Page 46.)

We spoke with one of the film's stars, the versatile British actress Emily Mortimer, at the Intercontinental Hotel while she was in the middle of a publicity whirlwind.

Q. What was it like playing a recurring role last year (she was Alec Baldwin's brittle girlfriend) in Tina Fey's "30 Rock"?

It was amazing doing telly. I'd never done a sitcom before and it was so fast. You're given dialogue as you're walking onto the set and it's kind of hairy. There are 10 people standing around watching the monitor and if they don't laugh - then instead of having another chance to do it - someone writes another line. It's also kind of subversive in a funny way because no one's able to interfere. The powers that be don't have time. So it's off-the-cuff and quick and kind of risque in a way that movies sometimes aren't because there's this committee of people watching the rushes and telling you to change it.

Q. But not this movie?

This movie is not a committee movie.

Q. Sidney Kimmel, who helped endow our performing arts center in Philadelphia, is a "Lars" producer. What is he like?

I haven't met him yet, but he seems like a really cool dude. He's got good taste in movies.

Q. Is this the first sex-doll movie to be rated PG-13? Was the script always so old-fashioned?

'Lars' was very un-prurient as a screenplay but even less so as a movie. In the script there is a moment where [Lars and "Bianca," the sex doll] actually do make love and we're downstairs hearing it and I'm going, 'Oh, God, please, no!' and they cut that out. The beauty of the film and sort of the paradox of it is that this creature that sort of represents the seedier, more sordid side of life is somehow full of grace and somehow purifying and cleansing in the community and helpful to this young guy . . . I think that as they made the movie it became clearer to veer away from all that and keep it very simple and pure.

Q. How did you become involved in the movie and did you have any reservations about the subject matter?

I read it and I liked it and I wanted to meet the director [Craig Gillespie]. . . . But it's so funny with this sex-doll issue. The question people seem to be asking is 'Were you worried doing a film featuring a sex doll?' and for some reason when I was reading it, that didn't register as an extraordinary thing. With anything that's good there's something bizarre or unusual but that's what makes it good.

Q. Did you and 'Bianca' bond in between scenes?

I was kind of shy around her. I couldn't think of anything to say. I found her slightly intimidating. There's something about people who don't speak that sort of makes them mysterious and interesting. And I felt sort of freaked out by her for that reason. I wish I could be more like her - keep my mouth shut.

. . . She gives such a subtle performance.

Q. What's next for you?

I did a movie right after that called "Transsiberian," which will be coming out next year. . . . It's set on the Trans-Siberian Railway and is a psychological thriller. And I'm in that with Woody Harrelson and Ben Kingsley.

And then I did a film with Chiwetel Ejiofor called "Redbelt." It's by David Mamet . . . I've said 'f---' in a David Mamet movie, that's kind of cool.

And I'm doing "Pink Panther 2" now. In fact I have to go back tomorrow morning at 4 and I have to film tomorrow. It's going to be hell. I'm feeling so . . . I can't believe I'm still alive - I've done way too much talking and drinking. I thought I was going to come up here and sleep in a nice hotel room on my own, unencumbered by my baby [son, Sam] or my husband [Alessandro Nivola], and have room service and indulge. And I'm more wrecked than I've ever been. *

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