You may be unfamiliar with the name Amber Heard right now, but you won’t be for much longer. Following small parts in Friday Night Lights and Alpha Dog, Heard marks her debut in the lead of Jonathan Levine‘s clever horror movie All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, released in the UK this week and in the US on 25th April.
Congratulations on Mandy Lane, it’s been receiving great notices from critics and the support of audiences.
Amber Heard: It does say great things about the director, I must say, because we made it for no money and in a very short amount of time in the middle of nowhere. It was really, really difficult in terms of how they make things comfortable for big-budget films. This lacked everything and yet it is so much better than 99% of the things out there that are made for ten times as much. It’s just a testament to its artistic merit and the director’s brilliance.
How did you first find out about it?
AH: I got the script in LA and I loved it. This was a movie that was really under the radar; no one was really talking about it. It didn’t have much money and subsequently it didn’t get much attention right off the bat. I found this script and I said, “Whoa, I want this movie, I have to do this.” And it’s different; there are so many things you get where it feels like you’re reading the same girl over and over again. And then I read this script and I thought it was truly different and that it could be done well.
The director and the writer went through great pains to put into the script some of the descriptions of the shots and the direction they had artistically but a lot of it came when I met Jonathan Levine, the director, and talked with him about the part. There was a connection and that’s what it’s all about; the director’s collaboration with the actor. My vision and his vision, the collaboration and the connection can make or break a film and in this case it made it. I knew instantly from meeting him that I had so much trust in him. I was like, “OK, I’ll be your scream queen.” We just connected, and I’m very proud.
When you first hear the title you expect a teen sex comedy, and every scene seems to be designed to make you think it’s taking a different direction.
AH: That’s what’s really brilliant about it, it kind-of mocks you a little bit and your expectations. It plays into, “Oh, you wanted to see a teen slasher film with the hot blonde,” and it mocks you for that in a sense. It’s brilliant, because it plays into the expectations and it plays into the fact that you went and saw it with those expectations and how wrong you were and how simple your expectations were for what it could have been.
When you’re working on a smaller film does it make things more intimate in terms of your relationships on set?
AH: Well, for this film I didn’t really spent a lot of time with the other actors. I isolated myself to maintain some sort of organic sense of the character. In general, especially with an independent film, no one’s there to make money, or to be famous even, they’re there to make a piece of art because they liked the project most likely. If you’re not going to make a lot of money and you’re not going to go to a beautiful exotic location and you’re not necessarily going to be a celebrity from it, there’s a real sense of camaraderie that you have with the other people that are in the situation you are. You’re like, “We’ve been filming in a field for sixteen hours, I’m not making any money, but I can sleep well at night.” There’s a camaraderie there that’s subsequent to a sense of just sharing a connection with other artists.
It must ruin the illusion people have of Hollywood to find you covered in gallons of fake blood in a mud pit in a field.
AH: It’s funny that you say that; everyone has these expectations, whether they’re subconscious or not, of the glamour and how much fun that you can have in LA and I went with those same expectations. This was my first shoot, my first leading role. I fly to my hometown, funnily enough, to film and I stand out in this field waiting for my hair and make-up. Instead of the chair, instead of the lights, I stand in the middle of a field and have, literally, a bucket of freshly-dug mud dumped on my head. I thought to myself, “This isn’t exactly what I expected!” As I’m lying in a mud-pit having fake blood squirted in my mouth, I think, I love my job!
AH: It is, I had a great time. It was particularly amazing and I had a blast doing it. How could I not? There was a lot of physicality involved, which was fun, and the special effects that were done during production, and the blood and the mud, all that stuff’s great.
What do you think Mandy Lane’s motivations are?
AH: She’s a fictional character that encompasses and embodies – or represents, more – a bunch of real girls. Many, many real girls. Many real teenagers – high-schoolers – especially in America. There are a lot of incicdents of this kind of violence in school with the perpetrators being cute teenagers against their classmates. Their victims are their classmates and they’re often their bullies. They’re tired of everything that they’ve been given up until that point. In the first part of the movie she’s a great representation of all those girls who are insecure and uncomfortable with their sexuality and their power and yet they’re strangely intrigued by it and tempted by it.
And then she changes, and she develops and as we get to know her more we come to realise that she’s a representation of this society that’s very real, especially in America. She represents quite a bit of reality.
Are you worried that people will talk negatively about the movie in that context post-Columbine and similar incidents?
AH: I couldn’t imagine why it’d be negatively talked about at all. Talking about the severity of the reality behind it, I don’t think there’s anything that could be more newsworthy or gossip-worthy than the actual reality. That in itself is pretty interesting and pretty horrible. Art imitates life; a movie is art and it’s going to reflect life in a sense.
What can you tell us about Pineapple Express?
AH: It’s brilliant, it’s everything you would expect out of a Judd Apatow comedy, but Seth is beyond what you’d expect. He’s brilliant. It’s very improvisational, very real, but very funny and I just love how they make things that wouldn’t normally be funny, funny. Take two guys smoking pot, you know, normally it’s not that funny, just how it is, but they take these normal things and they run with it and they do really funny things with it. They’re really funny guys and they’re hilarious.
How do you fit into the film?
AH: I play Seth Rogen’s girlfriend. There weren’t any real female characters written into this script other than myself and one other that I can remember and we both have smaller roles when compared to the boys, like many of Judd Apatow’s movies. The women are not very important in the sense of things. I play his girlfriend, a slightly neurotic girl that he happens to be dating. You’re wondering why, on both of our ends.
Seth is amazing. I had more fun on that set than I’ve ever had. Of course!