Emmy Rossum: Beautiful Creatures Bad Babe
By: Lynn Barker
Beautiful young actress Emmy Rossum has needed saving in many of her films; Jake Gyllenhaal gave her a hand in The Day After Tomorrow, her fiancé fought a mystery man for her in The Phantom of the Opera and a whole boatload of guys guided her through the upturned ocean liner in Poseidon. You could count on Emmy being the good girl.
Emmy as herself
In Beautiful Creatures, the film adaptation of the popular YA novel, Emmy goes bad…bigtime as Ridley, the “Caster” claimed for the Dark side when she was only 16. Now, on her return to the small southern town of Gatlin, she’s a full-fledged Siren and pity any guy in her path. Her cousin Lena is about to be claimed and Ridley wants to make sure she doesn’t join the “Light” brigade.
We sat down with Emmy at a posh boutique hotel in Beverly Hills and got her take on the novels, any comparison of the books and film to the “Twilight” series, her sexy wardrobe, hot male costars, how red lipstick comes off in kissing scenes and more!
Picture the tall brunette wearing a form-hugging grey and white knit dress by Yigal Azrouel and very high grey heels.
Kidzworld: The Ridley character in the book is blonde, wearing daisy duke shorts and sucking on a lollypop. Your version in the film is very different.
- Emmy: In the book, I kind of envisioned her as Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku girls (we laugh).
Ridley (Emmy) with her lollipop
Kidzworld: Yeah and your Ridley is all classy. Did you have a say in her “look”?
- Emmy: That was not me at all. I thought we were going to do blonde with a pink streak and lollipops and daisy dukes. That’s how I auditioned in fact. I was wearing daisy dukes and boots because I had read the book too. But Richard (La Gravenese, writer/director) had this idea that if she’s a siren, she would be kind of more old Hollywood. He’s personally a fan of old movies. So, we went more channeling Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth. It’s all these kind of subliminal messages to old Hollywood which I loved. It was a lot of fun for me to dress up.
Kidzworld: Did you get to keep anything?
- Emmy: I’m still waiting on those high black boots which haven’t arrived yet. Richard keeps saying “They’re yours. Hasn’t anyone sent them to you?” “No” and it’s been like a year. I tell you (walking across grass) in those was maybe the hardest thing about doing the movie because I had to keep all my weight on the front of my toes and look like I was doing my (seductive) thing.
Emmy in full Marilyn Monroe mode with Thomas Mann (Link)
Kidzworld: Were you interested in playing only the Ridley character when you walked in?
- Emmy: I can’t believe people ask me this. I’m too old to play Lena. She’s 16. I’m 26! I was just reading the other day about that girl on a TV show (“Revolution”) and nobody knows if she’s 16 or 35 (laughter). She hasn’t come out to say how old she is. I don’t get that. I digress. But I was sent the script for playing Ridley and read it and loved it a couple of months before they were going into production. I think I was still shooting season 2 of “Shameless” (on TV) at the time.
- I was sent the script specifically for Ridley and loved the character then read the books and did my audition and got the part. That was the only character I wanted to play. I did my time where I played the lead good girl like in Day After Tomorrow and Phantom and Poseidon. This is more fun for me, at least right now.
Emmy with Jake Gyllenhaal in The Day After Tomorrow
Kidzworld: The movie seems to develop the Ridley character more. You really get more of her feelings about being rejected by her family. Did you and your director work on that?
- Emmy: Yeah. I think we tried to flesh her out a little bit. In the book you get an understanding of her being chosen for the dark side and she has fully embraced being bad. But, underneath all this sexy bravado, in your face, attention-seeking craziness and glam that she projects, she’s kind of like this bratty teenager underneath it all.
- She’s grown up but she’s pushed out by her family and not sheparded through the adolescent period like the way they are taking care of Lena. Every actor thinks they’re in their own movie so I fleshed her out completely and lived that but it was really fun for me to play with the dynamic of a character that’s not completely evil but seems that way.
Emmy as Ridley in full Dark Caster mode!
Kidzworld: Are you ready for the “Twilight” comparisons?
- Emmy: I’m armed and ready for that. I think our film has so much humor and with the addition of our secondary characters who aren’t going through the same emotional struggles as our leads, from the Link character and the bitchy southern girl characters and even the Emma Thompson character (Mrs. Lincoln) who is so ludicrous at times in her bravado and enjoying of her own power, there’s a lot of comedy to be found.
- I think the comparisons (to “Twilight”) are going to happen. We’re both based on Young Adult novels and we are love stories but I kind of think that’s where the similarities end. Besides the fact that you have a coming of age story, there have always been supernatural stories and love stories since Adam and Eve.
Kidzworld: Talk about working with Alden (who plays Ethan) and Thomas (Link).
- Emmy: They’re very different people. Alden is a total bookworm and Thomas is just too cool for school. He’ll seem a little dorky but he’s not at all. He knows every word to every Drake song. They’re both terrifically sophisticated. Alden is so well-read that he and Richard would play this trivia game that they made up based on naming old movie stars and naming a movie they were in. Then name another actor who was in it and a movie they were in. They’re in the Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo world. They’re so smart for young actors. I don’t think I was that cool or smart when I was a 17 or 18-year-old actor.
Ridley (Emmy) with Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich)
Kidzworld: Thomas seemed to be really going for it in the alleyway for your kissing scene.
- Emmy: That was just a weird scene to shoot because Richard kept telling us to kiss each other more aggressively and I was wearing this red lipstick. It’s almost impossible to create a red lipstick that won’t come off on someone else’s face, especially when you’re kissing them “aggressively” (laughs). So, at the end of every take there would be like a ten minute reset where they were taking the red lipstick off the top of his nose because I literally felt like we were eating each other’s faces. It was fun.
Kidzworld: What do you think it is about the book that struck such a chord with readers?
- Emmy: I think especially female readers (like) the fact that the female protagonist is a young woman and that the girls have all the power. The chicks have more power than the men in this movie and it’s told from a boy’s perspective. He idolizes the girl. She’s everything that he’s been dreaming of and wanting. It’s very romantic and she is the tortured one with all the power.
- I think girls/teens (would say) “I went through this”, when you don’t know who you are and don’t feel powerful and you feel helpless in the world and school and everything you’re going through, you see this girl who has all the power in the world and that’s really amazing. I read it with that kind of escapist mentality when I enjoyed the books.
Emmy in Poseidon
Kidzworld: The book and film are about young love. When you were around 16 do you remember feeling that love was complicated or free and easy?
- Emmy: I remember thinking it was the only thing that mattered. I was doing movies and living in that imaginary world. I don’t think I dated a guy who was nice until like last year (laughter). I remember thinking “Where are all these Prince Charmings? All these guys are douches.” (laughter) So, I was definitely escapist into books and movies and old movies thinking “Where are the gentlemen?”
- But, they were just too young. At 15 and 16 guys are just dumb and so are girls (Valley Girl voice) “Why don’t you take us to dinner and buy us flowers and buy us jewelry?” and those are the 10-year-olds. I remember thinking eventually it would happen and be the best thing ever.
Kidzworld: The movie is filmed in Louisiana. Had you worked in Louisiana before and did shooting there bring something special to the film?
- Emmy: I’d never worked in Louisiana before although I loved getting to know New Orleans. We were down there for a couple of months. I think it lent that kind of slow, syrupy, kind of southern feel to the film as well as all the voodoo and witchcraft that is inherent in that area of the south and my mom’s from Louisiana too so it was fun to be in the territories she’d grown up in. She grew up in Deridder. It’s like a dirt road and a Coca Cola sign (laughs).
Kidzworld: Did anyone get to go have any fun in New Orleans while on the shoot?
- Emmy: (laughing) A lot of them are underage, dude.
Emmy in Phantom of the Opera
Kidzworld: Well, New Orleans sort of doesn’t care.
- Emmy: I know! We did have a lot of fun; cast and crew dinners and hang out sessions even if we were just watching “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” and eating a pizza in somebody’s hotel room. Especially when we went out to shoot at the plantations we stayed in a little town called St. Francisville which is kind of well-known for its plantations but doesn’t have much else.
- The accommodations we had were pretty much like a Holiday Inn Express so when we were staying there they didn’t give us transportation in our off hours. Me, Alden, Alice, Thomas and Zoey were like “Okay what do we do now for dinner?” because those little places don’t have room service or a restaurant. So, the only thing within walking distance was the Chevron station. So, we would literally walk across the highway in our pajamas to the Chevron and the kids would be like “Sunchips, Doritos” and I’d be like “Is there a banana in here? Has anyone seen anything that has ever been living?”” (laughter) So, we definitely bonded a lot during our weeks there.
Kidzworld: What was it like working with Jeremy Irons (who plays Macon Ravenwood)?
- Emmy: He’s fantastically entertaining. He’s hyper-intelligent and very dapper as I’m sure you’ll see from his many scarf looks. And, he was very passionate about working on the look of the character as well as the internal mechanisms and workings of the character. We obviously had a lot of fun because we’re kind of enemies. So, thank God I had Emma Thompson on my side.
Alice (Lena), Jeremy (Macon), Alden (Ethan) and Ridley (Emmy) at dinner
Kidzworld: Did you learn things from watching Jeremy and Emma Thompson that you can take away for your own work?
- Emmy: Yes, but because they’re both non-Americans I think they bring a sense of humor to their acting that I hadn’t seen before. They always find the humor in the dialogue, the funny part of the scene or they find something to make fun of about their character or add a levity to their character that’s not all straight. This is an elevated, supernatural world so let’s find the funny in that.
Kidzworld: You and Emma Thompson must have worked on your southern accents. You both sounded convincing.
- Emmy: (Our director) was very encouraging about us working with a (southern) dialogue coach that was provided for us down there, especially for me and Emma (Thompson) to consolidate our way of speaking because our two characters had been working and living together for a long time so we would have a similar way of talking.
Emmy and Alden at foreign premiere
Kidzworld: Fun question. What spell would you cast if you could?
- Emmy: I just thought of three I won’t say (laughter). Hummm, I guess, on a superficial note, I would look for totally calorie-free ice cream or crème brulee. Then on an important note something simple like equality and acceptance and some larger thing that I’m not sure any single person has the power to create.
Kidzworld: There are four books in this series and, at the end of this one Ridley just takes off. Are you signed for more movies?
- Emmy: Yeah. She’s in all the other books. She’s around especially in the 2nd one. She loses all of her powers and she and Lena go on kind of a Thelma and Louise trip to the Underworld so it’s pretty fun.
Kidzworld: You have a beautiful singing voice and have a cool album of older standard songs just out. “Sentimental Journey”. What made you decide to get back into music?
- Emmy: Thanks. I guess I’d always wanted to make this kind of record, which is a cover record of the music that I grew up loving, I eventually between seasons (on “Shameless”) I had a little extra money and thought okay, I could buy a new car or I could make a record and I made a record. I financed it myself and got a bunch of musicians together that I knew and it was fun to be in the creative control seat and directing the project even though musically it’s the equivalent of an indie project. It was fun and terrifying at the same time to be the one who called the shots.
Kidzworld: You were singing on Broadway at a very young age. Any chance you’ll sing on stage again?
- Emmy: I would love to do that yeah. If I can coordinate a Broadway show with my television show and this movie and another movie, trying to maintain my sanity, I would love to do that. I’m not sure when it will be but it’ll happen.