Imagine Me & You
From her early appearance as a precocious teen in Stephen Gyllenhaal's Waterland to the female lead in Terry Gilliam's Brothers Grimm, Lena Headey has always preferred strong female roles. A veteran of the big and small screen, Headey's career has blossomed along an interesting path, and fetches her up here as feisty florist Luce in Primrose Hill rom-com Imagine Me & You.
Luce's frank and flirty nature helps get the petals purchased, but becomes something of a challenge when she senses a spark with bright-eyed Rachel (Piper Perabo). Because Rachel is about to trip down the aisle with Heck (Matthew Goode), her vaguely posh Prince Charming. And Luce is supposed to be supplying the flowers. Not giving the bride pause to wonder whether she's traded up too early.
Time to talk work and weddings, life and lovin' ladies with the lovely Lena...
SS: How did you get involved in making Imagine Me & You?
Lena Headey: I think it had all been a long time in the making. Then I met Ol Parker [director] and did the worst audition ever. I walked out thinking: I did that really well in my bedroom this morning and this was really bad. I don't know why, I think it might have been because I wanted the part so much. I hadn't felt that way about a project in a long time. So when he called and said: "Do you want to come and do it?" I was like: "Yeah!"
SS: You'd worked previously with Piper Perabo on The Cave...
LH: We were talking on set about Imagine Me & You and she said she was up for it, I said: "So am I!" And when we got it, we were like: "We get to do something proper. Instead of running around in these things..." She left two weeks before me. But when we got back from the shoot, which was really wet and in Romania, we were on the phone to each other saying: "Look - I've got food! It's amazing!" I genuinely, really love Piper. She's bright, funny and smart. I think that being thrown together sort of made our friendship.
SS: And your other co-stars in Imagine Me & You?
LH: Everyone in it is just so lovely. Matthew Goode is just adorable. It's so great that they didn't make him a villain that she couldn't possibly be with. I love it. I mean a lot of people seem to find it quite predictable, but that's the point of the story - the answer's in the description.
SS: So - love at first sight: myth or reality?
LH: I think it's real. The truth is - for me anyway - you can fall in love instantly. Men or women like you, it's whether you follow through to the natural end, or not. It does happen.
SS: Some interesting reactions from the US press corp during your publicity rounds, right?
LH: Yeah, that was great. I don't think they knew what to make of us. We've had journalists saying: "Oh my God! How do you find playing a gay woman? Don't you think it may ruin your career?" Piper and I would just look at each other... I was asked if I thought Luce was repressed. I really don't. She's just stuck, she can't do anything. She can't run in and shout: "I love you!" I like that Luce is steady and makes no excuse for who she is, I love that about it. And I think what strengthens it is that Piper doesn't go: "Now I'm a big lesbian!" It's just that she's fallen in love. New York was a trail of journalists coming into a room with questions like: "Do you think that Brokeback Mountain made way for this movie?" And I was like: "Um, well, probably maybe I'd say there is no relation at all..."
SS: Have you reached the point where you can pick and choose the sorts of projects you do?
LH: I do choose to a certain extent. Not that I say: "I want to do that," and scripts come into my lap. But things that I'm interested in come my way. But there's always five people who want the job. I think maybe when I was younger, I didn't go for it as much as some others did. I wanted to make in my own way and I was just more into my life. So I guess it'll take me a bit longer. But I don't think there's any rhyme or reason to it really.
SS: What's next...?
LH: I've just done Low Winter Sun for Channel 4. It's quite a bleak comedy and it's really clever - the dialogue is awesome: very funny, very natural.
SS: And 300, the adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel - like Sin City, was there a lot of CGI required to realise the big old dust-up between the Spartans and the Persians in 480 BC?
LH: All of it was green screen - it was weird. On a set like that you can't connect, you can't recognise any surroundings. You're just surrounded by 300 men in loin cloths. It was bizarre. I guess it's some women's dream....
SS: Of all the roles you've played, which are you the most proud of?
LH: I think in terms of proud, I'd have to say The Brothers Grimm. Because I didn't kill myself. A personal triumph! But I think Aberdeen [co-starring Charlotte Rampling, Stellan Skarsgard, directed by Hans Petter Molland] is the one. It still gets to me that it never got released in the UK. I read it and thought: "Wow, this kind of material never comes my way. I'm never given this sort of thing." I met Hans and went: "I have to do it!" He asked if I really liked it. And I said: "I love it, I've slept with it under my pillow, I've read it every day. I know I can do it." He went away for three months, all the time staying in touch, telling me: "They want me to do it with Drew Barrymore, they're giving me a bigger budget." But then, after a while, he dismissed all that and said: "It's yours, you start in a month." It was an awesome experience.
SS: And the one that got away?
LH: I think one that didn't make a big noise was a film called My Life Without Me. There have been others. I did a reading recently for this film called The Flock that went to someone else. It has Richard Gere in it: a brilliant, twisted thriller about a female serial killer - it's an amazing role, really dark, really psychological. And I went out to LA and I know I did a good reading, it's very rare that I would say I did well. At the end the woman I was reading for was crying. I really frightened her. But I kinda lost my mind. I was very hung over and my car had been clamped. It was like a nightmare night. And I had to go back to my friend's house at six in the morning and went to this at nine. You know when you're having a bit of a head-space where you're: "I'm not responsible for any of my behaviour." Which is maybe how a killer feels! I think it was all a bit too real for her... SS100 Feisty Females collection
Find out about all the other big releases of the summer in the Super Summer Cinema Guide
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