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Interview with Eve Hewson (Mary)
Who is Mary?

Mary is a 16 year old Goth and Cheyenne's best friend. She's a dark old soul from a broken family - her brother's left and her mother's lost her mind and kind of forgotten about her. Cheyenne takes her in and takes care of her. They're friends and form sort of a tribe together. She's a huge fan of his. They confide in each other. He's the one who knows all her secrets.

Does he make it known to her what his intentions are when he leaves?

Mary just finds out that his father is dying when he leaves. She thinks he will go and then come back. Then after a while when he doesn't come back, she feels like he's abandoning her, just like her brother.

What was your reaction to the character? How much work did you have to do to find her?

The script was so detailed and precise. To create the character was the easy part; there were so many layers right there on the page. But Mary is so dark and has really heavy scenes. I knew that it would take a lot of work to get under the skin and understand where all that pain came from. The music that I listened to helped with that. I listened to The Cure, Talking Heads. All of their lyrics gave me an insight into what Mary was feeling and what was going on in her head.

I assume you don't look like this in real life?

No - they dyed my hair and extensions, gave me rings and ripped tights - though I do wear ripped tights in real life! The costume and the hair and make-up helped a lot with finding the character. I feel darker and closed off which is obviously what she's trying to do, putting up a barrier. I couldn't feel like Mary if I was wearing my own clothes.

How have you found working with Paolo Sorrentino?

I watched Il Divo and it's pretty heavy and intense. Everything is really controlled and precise and you'd think working with Paolo would be really scary. But he's the most gentle human being I've ever met. Everything's so calm on set, he knows exactly what he wants and he takes his time. There's no fuss or tension. He knows exactly what he's doing. It's kind of a gift.

And with Sean Penn?

I'd never met Sean before pre-production. I was pretty intimidated because of his body of work and his level of intensity. I wasn't sure how that would translate into real life. But he's been fantastic and very friendly. It was great and working with him was an education in itself.

Can you tell us about Frances McDormand and the character she plays?

Frances plays Jane, Cheyenne's wife. They nurture Mary and Jane is a positive female influence in her life. She adores their relationship, she supports their friendship and takes care of Mary in her own way. Frances and Sean work very differently, so it was interesting to see how they work in a scene together.

You're primarily involved in the Dublin portion of the shoot. How has that been?

I grew up in Dublin. I moved to New York for school and then I moved to LA. And now I'm back here to make a film. It's actually been very comforting as I know exactly where I'm going and I'm staying at home - it's helped me feel comfortable on set. Did you know how to skateboard before this film?

I'd never skateboarded before. I told a little white lie in my audition - Paolo asked 'can you skateboard?' and I said 'yeah sure, it's easy,' which is completely untrue! So they had to get me a coach, who worked with me for a couple of weeks, trying to get some tricks down and get me comfortable on the board. I was a bit wobbly at the start. I was wearing helmets - I looked like a turtle riding around Central Park, it was very embarrassing. But I was eventually weaned off the pads and I can properly skateboard now.

How would you describe the film?

I don't think you can categorise it easily. It's a drama but has a lot of comedy in it too. It's unique and extraordinary. It's hard to define.


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