CS Interview: Eva Green on How Dumbo Can Inspire Anyone to Face Their Fears
ComingSoon sat down with Dumbo‘s high flying performance partner, Eva Green, to talk about the film’s timeless themes, how she savors the challenge of playing roles that help her face her fears and how characters like Dumbo always inspire bravery and courage.
Director Tim Burton has reimagined the story of Dumbo for a new generation. Filled with whimsy and a menagerie of new friends, the story of the little flying elephant expands to tell a heartwarming and emotional tale. Among Dumbo’s new friends are the Farrier children played by Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins, Colin Farrell as their father Holt, and aerialist Collette Merchant played by Eva Green. Together with the rest of the circus, they come together to protect Dumbo when he reminds them of the innocence they once had in the face of a cruel world.
ComingSoon: In your body of work, you’re known for taking on both emotionally and physically challenging roles. And you’ve shared that heights is one of your fears, which playing an aerialist in Dumbo allowed you to face. Is that something you found appealing about taking on the role?
Eva Green: It was interesting because it was a character that my approach was mainly physical for in this role. I really committed to it and trained and trained. I didn’t know I would be able to go up there and pretend to be an aerialist and do real stuff. It was such a long interesting process, you know the circus people were really very patient and gave me lots of confidence. I had great teachers and we went step by step. We started to work on the strength first and then they lifted me higher and higher everyday. It’s crazy.
It started with a hoop, so you had to kind of sit on it. It’s very uncomfortable for the butt. And then you know most of my performances were on a chandelier, I trained straight on it and it’s very hard to just even hang on to it. It requires you to be have very strong shoulders and use unknown muscles. The abs have to be so strong and then the lyra which is a very old swing that they used in those days, beautifully shaped and you kind of go upside down and arch yourself and you have to go back up which requires lots of core work.
(She demonstrated this by lifting herself on the chair. It was awesome.)
CS: In the film Collette works closely with Dumbo as a partners in a flying act. Both sort of forced into working together after Collette was used to working alone. In the beginning you almost don’t know if she’s to be trusted but as she works with Dumbo, she changes because of him. Do you think it’s because Collette sees a part of herself she had long forgotten?
Eva Green: When you first meet her, you don’t really know who she is. She’s covered in makeup and quite cold and she’s Vandervere’s girlfriend. And we learned through the story that she used to be a street acrobat on the streets of Paris and Vandervere discovered her and brought her to America and made her a superstar. So you would imagine that she kind of blinded for a while by the life of luxury that he offered her and he gave her a chance as well to be an aerialist in the most prestigious circus in the world. I’m sure she pretended her life was great but when encounters Dumbo she realizes she’s been lying to herself and her life changes drastically and she becomes who she is. A simple woman who loves Dumbo, loves his trainers and family and this simpler life.
CS: I really loved seeing the joy in Colette’s face when she flies with Dumbo. It’s exactly like she sees who she truly is reflected in him. Were there characters in your real life that you would say you recognized yourself in and gained the courage to embrace what made you different as what makes you unique?
Eva Green: Yes, certainly Dumbo and talking about Tim–definitely Edward Scissorhands. You know feeling awkward and not fitting in and seeing that you can use your flaws or your weirdness for good things. I feel that lots of people identify with those characters. We live in a world where we think we have to look a certain way in order to be loved. And that’s not good, it’s quite boring. It’s good to be a bit brave as well and intelligent enough to embrace who you are and it is hard to believe in yourself. I don’t believe in myself very often and it is hard. For example like this fear of heights, doing this gave me a tiny bit of confidence that is like ‘Okay, I can actually do that.’–rather than overthinking and destroying yourself. It’s when you face those fears that you overcome them.
CS: After Miss Peregrine’s and now Dumbo, we’re seeing more of you in a wider range of genre films. Do you have plans to maybe join other universes like do more in the Superhero realm or Sci-Fi/Fantasy?
Eva Green: I really like physical stuff, actually. Even 300, I loved doing the training. It was thrilling to play that very strong woman. You get out of your head as an actor and you find the character through physical training. I’d love to do more of the superhero stuff, be more strong women in fantasy.
Dumbo opens March 29th.