With the film beginning to roll out, we recently chatted with director Jordan Scott and actress Eva Green about their collaboration in bringing the character of Miss G to life and finding the dream-like nuances in the moody melodrama.
"I think what I wanted to happen was that at the beginning you were sucked in by this woman. You thought that that she was a good, inspirational character. Even though in the beginning she comes off as being a little bit overt and over the top -- I was trying to hold back the reveal for as long as possible," Scott said about the measured pacing of the film, something that immediately grabs your attention from the first frame of "Cracks."
Based on the book by Sheila Kohlera and set in a remote English boarding school in the 1930s, the story revolves around the enigmatic and yet magnetic Miss G, a teacher who commands the respect and admiration of her students. However, as the film goes on, like an onion, the layers of Miss G begin to peel away and we begin to see a much more complex and disturbing character. Once Green come aboard the project she worked with Scott in shaping her role as Miss G.
"I think Eva felt that was she a little bit of Blanche DuBois," Scott said. And the comparison makes sense -- Miss G also has a past that hints at scandal, but is touched by a sense of elegance and class as well -- but had they stuck to the book, the character might've been much more vicious. "In the book, she's a very extreme character, very manly, [and] much more aggressive than the Miss G in Jordan Scott's movie," Green explained. "And we would worry that she would be a bit too sadistic and it would be a bit harsh. So we really tried to bring in as much humanity [as possible]. So that people can try and understand what she does at the end. It's not the easiest movie, it's rather dark, but we just hope that people get touched by her in some ways."
And one of the ways we see the human side to Miss G is in the costuming. Unlike her older, uniformed colleagues, Miss G dresses fabulously, looking like a glamorous, smoky movie star and a bohemian social player all at once. And Green was thrilled to be able to help design her wardrobe. "It's fantastic when an actor has the luxury to talk to the costume designer. We went to place in London called Angels and it's full of costumes. And we went to the Egyptian section, and then the Edwardian section, and mixed things together because I think that's what Miss G would do," she explained.
It's certainly a role with a myriad of nuances but Miss G finds a great admirer -- and foil -- in Di (Juno Temple) the leader of the pack of girls she teaches and her most ardent follower who is usurped once the exotic Fiamma joins the class. With all the estrogen flowing on set, it's no surprise that it soon began to reflect the film they were shooting.
"A group dynamic definitely took shape. Juno was definitely the leader, and everybody looked up to her and was a little bit in awe of her," Scott reveals. "She was a little older than the rest of the cast. But a lot of them had gone to boarding school together in England. So I felt like she was queen bee of the school a little bit." Green added, "As for the girls, three of them are professional actors. The others it was their first time so they were very sweet but scared at the beginning. There was a lot of fun -- it was contagious."
Yet, despite the camaraderie on set, it was all business when it came to the work. "Cracks" has a number of very tricky sequences -- scenes that required a firm hand to guide them through the cocktail of emotions in the balance -- and none was more difficult than the tense sequence between Miss G and Fiamma that pushes itself just over the line without sacrificing the integrity of the moment. (Some minor spoilers ahead so skip past the next picture to keep reading if you'd rather keep it a surprise.)
As Green explains, it was all in the approach and they got it in the can quick: "In the book the scene is so explicit, she rapes her. That could have been another possibility. But Jordan thought that it was more mysterious, and kind of spooky in a way, that you don't know what she's going to do with her. It's actually all in the eyes of Di, who's watching Miss G and Fiamma. And when you look at the result -- the lighting I think is very beautiful -- it's kind of romantic in Miss G's mind. It was kind of a simple scene. We did maybe two takes....it was easy to shoot."
And with the film now finally unspooling, Scott has her eyes on her next film, and it will mark a change in direction. "I'm looking at a ghost story that I'm hoping to make. It's a bit of departure, but not too big," she said adding that it will be different vibe that her current film. As for how it crossed her desk she said simply, "It was something that I read and really loved."
Meanwhile, Green is stepping back into a big budget role in Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows" and while she couldn't tell us much, she did say, "I'm playing Angelique Bouchard. She's a witch and she's madly in love with Barnabus [Johnny Depp's character]. She's obsessed by him. But it's extremely well written, very sharp."
Certainly some bold directions from two talents curious and eager to stretch their abilities. Meanwhile, do what you can to see "Cracks," a film we greatly admired and think deserves to find an audience. It's currently in limited theatrical release; it hits video-on-demand on March 23rd.