Although “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” was a box office disappointment when it was released last fall, the film’s leading lady, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, has found herself more in-demand than ever. On October 14th, she stars in “The Thing,” a prequel/companion piece to John Carpenter’s 1982 horror classic, and next year she appears in the unwieldy, but promising Timur Bekmabetov film “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” Talking to The Playlist during the press rounds for “The Thing,” Winstead explained that she was excited as audiences are to see the forthcoming film, not the least of which because she didn’t take part in any of the action scenes.
“I haven’t seen any [footage], but I know they’ve been editing and I know that they’re really excited about it,” Winstead said. “I know there’s going to be a trailer out in like February, or something, so I’m really excited about that. But I wasn’t a part of most of the action stuff in that movie, which I liked that, because I kind of needed a little bit of a break [laughs]. So I’m going to be like an audience member when it comes to that stuff, because I have no idea.”
Meanwhile, Winstead said the sequences that she shot featured a more traditional look, making those set pieces an even sharper contrast for viewers. “I know that it’s going to look really cool,” she said. “I know that the stuff we did looks so beautiful, just like a classic period piece, so I think it’s going to be so cool to have that meld with these crazy action sequences.” And certainly, the first look at the film that arrived over the summer, bears out that the filmmakers are getting those period details down pretty cold.
In spite of the fact that the film is a mash-up of real-life characters and fictional creatures, Winstead said that she and her fellow cast members put a lot of work into making sure as much of the story as possible was historically accurate. “We definitely spent a lot of time on the history,” she explained. “I know that Benjamin [Walker], who played Abraham Lincoln, he was like an expert on the character, and I spent a lot of time before we started shooting reading biographies and studying up on Mary Todd.” At the same time, she admitted that she wanted to focus on the interpretation of Mary Todd that was written in the script, even if she was quick to observe when the filmmakers got details right or wrong.
“Once I got there, I had to just kind of let it go and know that I knew who this person was,” she said. “And I could bring up questions about maybe this would be more like something she would do, or, you know, I don’t know if this is keeping with her character, and things like that. But I also had to accept that it’s not a completely historically accurate telling of history. A lot of it is, and that’s what’s really fun about it.”
Winstead also said that she didn’t want to simply portray the seedlings of mental illness that plagued Mary Todd later in her life, but get inside the woman’s troubled history and create a character who was complex and interesting. “Most of the stuff that people know about Mary Todd is the later years when she went kind of crazy,” she acknowledged. “But she also lost her husband and all but one of her children, to horrible diseases and things, and obviously the assassination. So to me, I was very sympathetic to her – like, of course people would go crazy in that situation!”
“So I didn’t play her like a crazy person, which is what people keep asking me,” she revealed. “But definitely a feisty young woman, and I get to turn into this older, very strong, powerful woman who’s helping her husband fight the war against slavery – and vampires!”
“The Thing” is being released nationwide on October 14, 2011. "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" hits on June 22, 2012.