Interview with Rebecca Hall, Part 2

PK: You've been very fortunate to make movies really top-notch directors. I guess you're doing one with Richard Linklater?

RH: No, that fell through completely. I wish. I'd love to work with him. I still do want to work with him, but probably not on that project.

PK: He's a great director.

RH: Yeah, he is.

PK: The first director you worked with is your father. Are you kind of picky now because you've already worked with the best, with Shakespeare and stuff like that. Does it make you a little fussy about what you want to do for a movie?

RH: I think it's important not to be snooty about it. I think it's very easy for people to think that the people that do Shakespeare are sort of very snobby and think that nothing much is up. I think it's important not to be reverent about Shakespeare. I don't compare writers and think, well that's not Shakespeare, ultimately what I want to be doing is Shakespeare all the time. That's not true. I like breadth and diversity. I will say that being born to a director and understanding how directors work and seeing the good ones and the bad ones. I am actually aware of a standard of quality and projects that are more interesting than others. I'll gravitate towards those that are above and beyond any sort of decisions that are grounded in "Should I do this for my career," or "Will this make me more famous" or God knows what. I'm not fazed by the more complicated...the smoke and mirrors of it all is what I'm talking about and I don't get fazed by that stuff. And that's because of my family. I've got a laser eye for what do I want to do and what do I not want to do kind of thing.

PK: Do you have any ambivalence about success because it usually entails celebrity which can be...

RH: I've got piles of it. I've got garrets and cellars and very big amounts. Tons and tons of ambivalence about it. I don't want it. I'd like to stay exactly where I am and carry on being anonymous and unplaceable and play characters that are very different to one another and not be stereotyped. That gets harder and harder the more famous you get. So I don't know. Fingers crossed. Some people are able to tread the line and do both. Meryl Streep does both. I'm not comparing myself to her AT ALL, but she manages it. They're all models.

PK: Speaking of Meryl Streep, your mother was an opera singer.


Do you sing yourself?

RH: I do, yeah.

 PK: You haven't really used that.

RH: Nobody's asked me.

PK: Well, would you like to sing now?

RH: No, not a chance. I'm far too shy.

PK: That Meryl Streep, by the way, who did "Mama Mia," for better or worse, she's got a great voice. I'm sure you do too. Reading over some other interviews, one thing stuck out in my mind. One of your vivid memories of growing up was watching your mother onstage clutching the severed head of John the Baptist.

RH: Yep.

PK: Did you look at that and say, "That's what I want to do for a living?"

RH: No, no I didn't. I did say "I don't see why she can't go off with the head and live happily every after." Which is a little bit dark.

PK: How old were you then?

RH: About 7.

PK: Makes sense even now, actually. Won't talk back. None of his nasty preaching.

RH: Exactly! They're happy together. He doesn't know any better. It was a bit warped but quite sweet and innocent child perspective, I guess.

PK: So it wasn't traumatic or anything like that.

RH: It was a combination. I was aware that it was performance. But my mom was singing Salome from when I was 5 to 14. She was singing the same production all over the world. With big gaps and she'd revisit it. So I spent a lot of my childhood watching that performance and it was formidable. I mean, really really it was extraordinary. She was an extraordinary singer, my mother and she was an extraordinary actress. That performance  looms large in my mind and my memory. It was a big one. She was incredible.

PK: No pun intended, but what exactly is the head girl? It says you were one at.. some posh school??

RH: I went to a posh school.

PK: How do you pronounce it, Boden?

RH: Roedean. Boden is a clothes catalogue, I think. And maybe a school you went to.

PK: What was that all about, being head girl?

RH: It's like a prefect. Same kind of deal. Position of responsibility.

PK: Did you get to send people to jail?

RH: No, I was a terrible, terrible, terrible head girl. I shouldn't have been allowed. I was going through sort of a vaguely politically conscious human rights sort of moment in my reading and my history lessons and so I said, I'll only do it if I can represent the students and not the teachers. It was really important that the students have a representative and I'm not going to do anything that a teacher tells me to do. And I was very gutsy and ballsy and royally messed it up. I'm not very good at organizing people. I wasn't a natural diplomat. And I'm DEFINITELY not a natural politician.

PK: So that was your only brush with politics.

RH: Yeah.

PK: Makes you appreciate Obama all the more. He makes it look so easy. Well, it looks like you're going to be celebrating your father's 80th birthday by performing in "Twelfth Night." That old tradition.


RH: I wouldn't say it's to celebrate my Dad's 80th birthday.

PK: That's what the press kit said.

RH: It's linked in. He's turning 80 this year and he hasn't been back to the National to do Shakespeare since he was running the building. And they wanted to tribute him and celebrate his contribution to the theater. It's also coming up to some big anniversary. They said to him. In order to celebrate you, please choose whatever theater. And he said I'd like to do "Twelfth Night" in the Cottesloe  and I'd like my daughter to be in it. So in a sense it's celebrating his birthday.

PK: It's in the winter?

RH: Yeah.

 PK: You're pretty busy up until then. I was looking at the IMDB, which can be unreliable. But "Bag Full of Hammers?"

RH: "A Bag of Hammers." It's for a very good friend of mine; it's his first feature and it's a tiny, tiny independent. He got funding in May in a short amount of time and I play a small role in it. I went and shot it for five days in the middle of shooting this, actually. He hasn't gotten distribution yet.

PK: What sort of accent do you do in that?

RH: Californian actually.                             

PK: Why is it that Americans don't really do British accents in movies, but British people...

RH: That's not true, Americans play Brits all the time.

PK: I don't know about that.

RH: What are you talking about? Gwnyeth Paltrow, Scarlett Johannsen, Natalie Portman, they've all done it.

 PK: So it would seem.  I'll have to talk to the intern who did the research on that one. "The Awakening."

That looks like a change of pace for you.

RH: I finished it two weeks ago. We wrapped. It's very much a change of pace. As in it's much more high octane than anything else I've ever done in my life.

PK: It's kind of a genre movie. But I guess "The Town" is too.

RH: It's about as much of a genre movie as "The Town" is. In the sense that it uses genre as some kind of metaphor to actually create a human drama. Yes, it is a ghost story, but it's very complicated and layered and is probably more of a drama at the end of the day than it is anything else. It was the first film I've done where I'm in every scene from start to finish so I was on every day. I've never done that  before. "Vicki Christina" was close but it didn't feel like the whole thing was on me. So it was exhausting and challenging and really, really rewarding.

 PK: You've got another movie here [at the Toronto Film Festival] right? The one with Will Ferrell?

RH: "Everything Must Go."  Based on a Raymond Carver story. As you can imagine, the story is three pages long, but the film is definitely an hour and a half.

 PK: You can use some of the stuff you cut from "The Town."

RH: Yeah, just mix and match it.

PK: What other future projects can we look forward to?

RH: That's it, you named them all.

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