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Q&A | 'Holy Motors' Star Eva Mendes "I'm finally acting in the films that I want to see."

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire November 19, 2012 at 10:57AM

Eva Mendes doesn't get a lot of screen time in Leos Carax's nutty and beguiling art house hit "Holy Motors," but she sure leaves a mark. In what is arguably the most memorable scene in a film that's stocked full of them, a sultry looking Mendes plays an American model who is abducted on a photo shoot by a ghastly leprechaun that goes by the name of "Merde" (Denis Lavant in one of his many "Holy Motors" disguises), only to find herself singing the little beast a lullaby in a dank sewer lair moments later. It's a scene made manifestly more bizarre simply because Mendes is in it. This is a long way from "Hitch."
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"Holy Motors"
"Holy Motors"

In the past, do you feel your looks ever got in the way of the types of films you wanted to make?

I don't know. It doesn't sit well with me when I hear actors complain about how their good looks have kept them from getting certain roles. That doesn't sit well with me, so I'm going to stay away from that [laughs].

READ MORE: A U.S. Trailer for 'Holy Motors' Finally Drops and It's Suitably Dreamy and Deranged (VIDEO)

I think I've just been very fortunate. If I've ever been typecast in any way, I see it as my own fault. I think that if I have a certain image out there, or if I ever did, it's of my own doing. That's why in these last few years I've really made some conscious decisions to change that, if that was even the case.

Going back to the film, how did Leos sell your sequence to you? You talked about your character and how you loved that she doesn't speak, but what about what she endures? It's pretty racy.

I've always been a fan of monster movies like "Beauty and the Beast." There's that element in there for sure, and that was just so alluring to me. And the fact that she was not a victim, that she went willingly, that she never faught him, yet she wasn't…she was kidnapped at her own will in a sense, and I thought that was really empowering. I saw it as she wanted to be saved from this very superficial, absurd world that she was in. She sees this monster man and instead of being frightened, she's actually relieved. I believe that he came to adduct her because she was sending him signals to do that, to save her.

"If I've ever been typecast in any way, I see it as my own fault."

What kind of boundaries did you set up with Denis before going into it? Did you set any up, or did he have free reign to do what he wanted to you…and around you?

No, it was very understood that…um, how do I say this? [Long pause.]

I'm specifically addressing the scene where he exposes himself to you.

Oh, no, no, no. That was all prosthetics.

Oh!

Oh my god, yes! It's called movie magic. There was never any kind of talk of a love scene or anything like that. So there was no need to set up real boundaries cause there was never a feeling of…it's not like when you go into a fight scene in a film, or a love scene where you obviously set up very clear boundaries and everything's verbalized. Because there was prosthetics and movie magic involved, it wasn't an issue for me.

Did Denis break character in between shots, or did he stay in character as the sewer dweller?

Oh yeah, he would be smoking and laughing. I'd look over and he'd have one glass eye, and his monster slash leprechaun slash Nine Inch Nails looks and I was just like, this is so cool.

There's this famous picture, was it Bella Lugosi? He played Dracula. There's this photo of him and I believe it's him having a cigarette, maybe he's just sitting around having a normal moment -- I can't recall it specifically because I saw it when I was very young -- but that's always stayed with me. That's kind of how I felt when I saw Denis between takes. He would just become this normal really cool guy, from being this monster [laughs].

This article is related to: Interviews, Eva Mendes, Holy Motors





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