I first discovered Juno Temple in Kaboom, playing the sexual free spirit London. When I saw her in Jaco Van Dormael’s unreleased existential sci-fi film Mr. Nobody, I was obsessed. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to meet her and as she got bigger and bigger roles, I was worried she’d quickly surpass accessibility. Fortunately she’s still down to earth and making indie movies she cares about promoting. Little Birds casts Temple as Lily, a trailer park teenager who falls in with a gang of troublemakers who mug people and entrap pedophiles on Craigslist, using Lily as bait. Temple is also the daughter of director Julien Temple. Last week, in the offices of Millennium films, I finally got to meet his daughter.
CraveOnline: How did you access the anger Lily has in Little Birds?
Juno Temple: Honestly, I was lucky because I got two years with Elgin to prep this movie before we actually shot because it didn’t get greenlit for a while. So we got to talk about a lot of different situations that did happen to her or that we decided didn’t happen to her. So there was a hell of a lot of backstory going on there. But I think honestly what I thought about her is that she’s not a f***ed up little girl that’s going to [does bubbly American accent] “fix it all and get better and figure it out by the end!” It’s not that. She’s not that pleasant. She’s not okay. She makes these bad decisions after bad decisions. Ultimately when it comes to the very last moment of the movie, she is face down and I think she feels like she deserves what’s coming. So playing a character like that where you just have no remorse for yourself, you have no forgiveness, you’re like, “I’m an idiot” and you know while you’re making each decision that it’s a bad decision but you do it anyway, I think that brings some pretty crazy anger there.
It’s funny when she says she’s finally happy. She’s happy because she’s joined a gang that’s terrorizing people and that’s making her happy.
Yeah, well I think she feels part of something and it feels rebellious to her. That’s what I mean. It’s a bad decision. It’s a bad decision to run off and go be in with those boys because she’s leaving her family, she’s leaving her mom, she’s leaving the people that really care about her but she feels like she’s doing the thing she’s meant to be doing. And she’s convinced of it.
Does a story like this make you really grateful to be living in a city and able to do well for yourself?
I feel grateful of that before I shot this movie but definitely making these films, these little independent films, yeah, you feel blessed because you’re dealing with such hard, upsetting subject matter but you’re surrounded by people who are going to care for you and love you while it’s going on. That’s not what’s happening with those people when it’s really happening. They have alienated themselves so they don’t have the luck that we have of the love around us.
Is this sort of trailer home living more of a U.S. phenomenon or do that have that in England also?
No, we have council flats in England. It’s a different thing. I don't know anywhere that has a trailer park in England. You can go and stay in a trailer over the summer next to the beach or whatever, but I don’t really know people that live in a trailer park.
Was exploring this world new for you?
Big time. And it was fascinating. There was this amazing moment when we were in the Salton Sea where there was this trailer and it was a kind of bigger trailer but still it’s a trailer, and these people came out to come say hi to us because we were filming outside of their trailer. Two people came out, then another four people came out, then another two people came out. You were just mesmerized that they were all in that space altogether and they were so happy. You just realize that also you take things for granted sometimes because the people you surround yourself are who make you happy. Whether you’re living in a cardboard box, in your car, at your parents house or an apartment by yourself if you be so lucky. You shouldn’t take for granted how much people mean to you.
I’ve also seen Kaboom, so I imagine nudity is not a problem for you?
No, I’m European, man. It’s like whatever. Taking your kit off is part of life, isn’t it? I do it every time I shower. [Laughs]
What did you think of Lily’s cutting? When did that come in during the two years of prep?
You know what, I actually don’t remember whether it was originally in the script or we came up with that together, but it was early on. Either it was originally in the script that I got sent, I think it was originally in there, but I think again it’s her looking at something being like, “I kind of deserve this. I deserve this pain because I was a bitch to my mom or I behaved like this or I did this” and it’s like agh! She has to take it out on herself somehow. I think it’s kind of a crazy release. You know, so many people have their weird releases. Mine’s smoking. I’m a big time smoker but whatever, whatever releases your pent up energy you kind of don’t make a big deal out of and that’s what I think is interesting about that scene where she kind of gets busted for it is she doesn’t think it’s a big deal, but Kyle [Gallner]’s part really does. He’s like, “Whoa. Whoa.” Then it’s kind of a wakeup call to her and it’s like sh*t, normal people don’t do this and all I want to be is normal and I’m not normal. That kind of stuff is hard and it’s upsetting, especially when it’s a 16-year-old girl doing it, or 15-year-old girl feeling like she has to do that.
I’ve been aware of you for a while, but now you’re getting to be in bigger and bigger films. What has this time been like for you?
It’s exciting. It’s nerve wracking. I don’t want to f*** it up. I really want to learn from the people that I’m working with and be like a sponge and suck up all the knowledge that I possibly can. I want to work my ass off. I want to work hard. I want to be given these opportunities because I want to really fight for it and challenge myself and feel good about what I do. I feel like you earn the jobs you get. You’re so judged on the movies that you’ve done and they’re what get you the parts afterwards or what get you in the room to audition for something afterwards. So I want to keep getting better so I keep getting these great auditions. I think I’m a bit of a fighter so I think I’m going to keep fighting for it, but I feel sometimes panicky, you know. But most of the time I feel like yes, hooray, you’re doing it.
What is your role in and experience on Maleficent?
I haven’t started filming yet. I start in a month. I’m shooting a movie here. Actually I’m shooting down the street right now. As soon as I wrap that I go to England to start Maleficent, but I had a great time during rehearsals.
Are you playing a new character that wasn’t in the animated film?
Yeah, the whole film is a little different.
What was your role in Lovelace?
I play Linda Lovelace’s dear friend. I play her best friend growing up and then she goes through that crazy experience and then we meet again and I try and help her out.
Have you shot Wild Side?
Wild Side is no longer happening.
I’m always up for a crazy Nicolas Cage movie.
I was stoked too, I know.
What was your experience being in The Dark Knight Rises?
It was fantastic. Fantastic. A little overwhelming. I’ve never been on a movie set that size before but everyone was so awesome. The team of people that know each other so well, I don't know, it’s like they’re a family. They’ve been doing this for such a long time and they were very welcoming, and Christopher Nolan’s amazing.
I love Mr. Nobody. What did you think when you got that script?
Oh, it blew my mind. It was a long script. It was like 208 pages or something, but I loved it. I thought it was so complex. I had to read it a couple of times because I kept being like, “I’m missing something.” But I loved that script and I had so much fun making it too.
Every choice you ever could have made exists at the same time! Blows my mind too.
With Mr. Nobody and Kaboom, what did you think of these crazy scripts coming your way?
I think, or at least I hope people are aware that I’m not afraid to challenge myself. So if you’ve got a crazy script and you want to send it my way, I’m definitely going to read it and I’m going to take note of it. If it feels right to be in that moment, I’m going to give it a whirl if you so want me to be a part of it.
When did you in your life see Earth Girls are Easy?
When I was like six. It was my favorite movie from between about 6 and 12, favorite movie of all time, watched it pretty much every night after school.
Did you watch it because your father did it or would you have anyway?
That was a big part of it. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Are you kidding? I love watching my father’s films. The Future is Unwritten is one of my favorite films of all time. That’s such a beautiful documentary he’s made. He’s a big inspiration for me. He’s given me some of the best advice ever.
What was some of that great advice?
Two things. He told me that knowledge is the key to life and don’t ever do anything unless you’re passionate about it because everyone will see through it.