Eva Green Interview: Nocebo

Eva Green on Method Acting: I’m Not Saying ‘Don’t Talk to Me’ but the star is placing her bets on “happy” sets going forward.

The “Casino Royale” alum addressed the notion that other actors have a “don’t talk to me” policy while in character for roles. Green, who leads the thriller “Nocebo” as a mentally disturbed fashion designer, called the horror genre “jubilating” in its freedom to “let all your demons out” during production. But that doesn’t mean utilizing the misinterpreted Method acting tactic of strictly staying in character.

“This was a very happy set. I’m not somebody who is like, ‘I’m still the character, I’m sorry, don’t talk to me,’ you know?” Green told press. “It’s just a little movie…But as an actor, thank God I’m not really living what Christine is going through. Otherwise, I would have ended up in a cuckoo home.”

Eva Green makes her horror genre return for Nocebo. Green stars in the film as Christine, a high-end fashion designer who finds her efforts to overcome a tragedy in her life further complicated when she begins suffering from a mysterious illness. When a Filipino nanny arrives offering help, Christine begins learning of surprising new healing methods, all while her mental state crumbles.

Alongside Green, the cast for Nocebo includes Mark Strong, Chai Fonacier, and Billie Gadsdon. The film, which hails from Vivarium director Lorcan Finnegan and writer Garret Shanley, proves to be a chilling series of mental manipulations and dark revelations.

 Ahead of the film’s release, Eva Green discusses Nocebo, her desire to work with director Lorcan Finnegan, her fear of overacting in the horror genre, and more.

Eva Green on Nocebo

You are no stranger to the horror genre, but what about the material really sparked your interest?

Eva Green: First of all, Lorcan Finnegan, the director. I really loved Vivarium, and I thought it was really an interesting atmosphere; very disturbing, very unique, and very claustrophobic. I thought working with him was very appealing, and then when I read the script, I thought it was a very interesting subject.

If it had just been a horror movie, I don’t think I would have been interested. I love the relationship between the two women, it also deals with profound issues like guilt and greed, so it was a good mix.

I love the social commentary that goes throughout this film as well. It’s one that definitely helps elevate it past just being a horror movie. What was it like getting to the heart of your character for this one, because she has so many great layers and an interesting evolution throughout this film?

Eva Green: Yes, it was interesting, because there’s so many colors at the beginning. For maybe five minutes, she looks happy, active, full of life. [Chuckles] Then, she gets this phone call that changes everything, and she develops this illness, and she’s constantly haunted.

When there’s this Filipino help that shows up on her doorstep, she’s quite suspicious at the beginning, but then Diana gains her trust by being the perfect nanny, and she cooks amazing food, and she even manages to cure some of the symptoms Christine suffers from, so they really bond. I really thought the [dynamic was] interesting between those two women and was very, very powerful, because Christine becomes so indebted to Diana that their relationship shifts, and the servant becomes the master. So, that was interesting.

Given that relationship is so vital to helping drive that story along, what was it like for you to develop that rapport with Chai Fonacier during production?

Eva Green: We shot that movie during COVID, and it was so difficult to bring Chai over to Ireland, it was very difficult for the visa, and all this, and at some point, we even worried that she could not make it. We did a read through on Zoom with Lorcan, so had I only met her when we did our first scene together, I think it was when she showed up on the doorstep. So that was for real, I was meeting Chai by that for real. [Chuckles]

Chai is quite small, but such has so much authority, there’s something very strong about her, I’ve never seen somebody who possesses such strength, she was quite intimidating, and I was like, “Wow.” She’s so instinctive and has a real presence, and the fact that she could go from angel to devil within a matter of seconds, I was very impressed. Also, the subject is quite dark, but we were having lots of fun, weirdly, on set, and there was nothing kind of weird going on, so to speak, between us. [Chuckles]

Was there any one scene in particular that you really enjoyed getting to bring to life with her for this?

Eva Green: I think maybe the scene when I’m laughing, when she tickled my character, that was fun, because the other scenes are quite like dark and emotional.

There was a scene as well, more like mid-film, when I’m on the ground and speak Cebuano. What I loved about that scene is that it’s, of course, quite emotional. But I remember Lorcan playing metal music in the background when I’m having a fit on the floor. [Laughs] That was quite surreal. There’s something maternal, as well, with Chai, she has something quite childish about her, but also scary, and is an old soul, it’s a very interesting mix in this beautiful actress.

You both are phenomenal in this film. Speaking of Lorcan, there are so many great influences throughout Nocebo. Did he present you with any watchlist to go through for preparation on this one?

Eva Green: He’s a very visual director. He sent me books on sleep paralysis; lots of paintings. But for the movies, there was Safe, the Todd Haynes movie with Julianne Moore. He asked me to watch it, and I thought it was very interesting, as it kind of echoed Christine. The fact that it’s a trapped housewife. There’s that pain, because she feels like she cannot express herself, and she feels trapped. I felt there was something quite similar with those two characters.

And then for the atmosphere, there was Persona, the Bergman movie. You have the relationship between those two women, but it’s quite toxic. Single White Female and The Servant. He didn’t send me The Servant, but that reminded me of The Servant with Dirk Bogarde. I love his performance in that, so that kind of echoed this. He’s a big Polanski fan, and he worked with this amazing Polish DP, and they were always trying to find interesting angles, weird angles. They were very sweet together, and wanting to do something other. It was lovely to see them so excited, and hungry to find something.

That’s a great list of influences to have. What would you say was one of the biggest creative challenges for you coming into this film?

Eva Green: You know, it’s that kind of movie you always worry as an actor, “Oh, am I going to do too much? Is it going to be too ridiculous?” Thank God Lorcan was very much around and guiding me, it’s a fine line, because the audience is wondering, “Is she suffering from a somatic illness, or is it a real illness due to a tick bite?” The emotional range was always a bit [tricky], I didn’t really know where to go, but Lorcan was there, so that was good.

You certainly found the right balance. How are you feeling about the wider release, now that it’s all in the bag for you?

Eva Green: Ahh, fingers crossed! You never know, I hope people will love it. But yeah, as you said, it’s not just a “woooo” horror movie, there’s something behind this. It’s a social [story] that denounces fast-fashion, and how destructive it is to life on the planet, and that we humans have become these greedy creatures obsessed with having more and more, no matter the cost. So, it has this interesting message, as well, it’s not just this “ooh-la-la movie,” you know? [Laughs]

About Nocebo

A fashion designer (Eva Green) suffers from a mysterious illness that confounds her doctors and frustrates her husband (Mark Strong) – until help arrives in the form of a Filipino nanny (Chai Fonacier) who uses traditional folk healing to reveal a horrifying truth.

“Sometimes I get a bit upset when people put me in one box. ‘Dark’ — what does that mean, dark?” Green said. “I like to call [my type] more ‘complex,’ or as you said, we never know what it looks like, what’s behind, those secrets and stuff. That’s more interesting.”

Recently, Ethan Hawke spoke out on extreme Method acting techniques. “My thoughts are that a lot of extremely gifted and inspired people are extremely selfish. And it works for them,” Hawke said. “It’s interpreted a lot of different ways. Yeah, Dustin Hoffman wants to stay up all night, or Daniel Day-Lewis builds an outhouse or whatever. It’s their interpretation of what the Method is working for them, and that’s the genius of what Kazan, Strasberg, Stanislavski were teaching.”

Hawke added, “I know that ordinary effort creates ordinary results, and the longevity and genius of Daniel Day-Lewis’ career proves that there’s method to his madness. I don’t sit in judgment. I find it endlessly fascinating. Personally, I think it’s crazy. But it works!”

Nocebo hits theaters on November 4 and digital platforms on November 22.

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Adam Regan
Adam Regan
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Features and account management. 3 years media experience. Previously covered features for online and print editions.

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