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Juno Temple on Sex, Violence and 'Dirty Girl' (Now on DVD)

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire January 17, 2012 at 11:53AM

Last January, we caught up with British actress Juno Temple at Sundance where she had two films ("Little Birds" and "Kaboom") playing. We touted her back then as an up-and comer, but now, who are we kidding. The 22-year-old is an established star in her own right. Need proof? She's done shooting a buzzed-about supporting turn in "The Dark Knight Rises" as Holly Robinson, a street-smart Gotham girl.
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INTERVIEW | "Dirty Girl" Juno Temple on Sex, Violence and "The Dark Knight Rises"
Juno Temple in "Dirty Girl." The Weinstein Company

Last January, we caught up with British actress Juno Temple at Sundance where she had two films ("Little Birds" and "Kaboom") playing. We touted her back then as an up-and comer, but now, who are we kidding. The 22-year-old is an established star in her own right. Need proof? She's done shooting a buzzed-about supporting turn in "The Dark Knight Rises" as Holly Robinson, a street-smart Gotham girl.

Before the blockbuster lands in theaters this summer, check out her hilarious performance in the coming-of-age comedy "Dirty Girl." In the film, directed by newcomer Abe Sylvia, Temple plays Danielle, a sexually promiscuous high school bad girl who goes on a road trip to find her birth father. The film comes out on DVD and Blu-ray today (go here to see our top five DVD/Blu-ray picks for this week).

Indiewire caught up with Temple last summer to talk "Dirty Girl" and her penchant for playing damaged and sexually active teens.

The last time American audiences saw you was in the decidedly sexually explicit “Kaboom.” With this new film, the title alone kind of conveys this out there, frank sexuality…

But I keep my clothes on this time!

You do!

I’m a good dirty girl (laughs).

Is it fair to say that you’re an actress fairly comfortable at exploring sexuality on screen?

Absolutely. And I think people shouldn’t be nervous to talk about it because it’s going on. I think violence to me is more never racking than doing sex scenes. I find violence much scarier. I had to shoot a gun last year and that was way more never racking than any sex scene I’ve shot. I think sexuality is important. It makes you who you are. It makes you a woman, makes you change, makes you grow, makes you aware of your body.

When we’re shooting, it’s not for real. It’s awkward getting told where to put your legs. It’s very choreographed and unsexy to shoot. But no, I’m not afraid of exploring sexuality on screen at all.

There are a lot of parallels between the teen girls you play in “Dirty Girl” and “Little Birds.” Both heroines seem very sure of themselves on the outside, but they’re each longing for more. They’re very fractured characters.

They’re missing something. Yeah, there are definitely many similarities, but they’re also very different. I also think Danielle ["Dirty Girl"] has more confidence than Lily ["Little Birds"] does. She also has more hope and prospects in her life. 

That was what was heartbreaking about playing Lily. You end up kind of knowing that she’s not really going to go anywhere. She’s stuck. It’s a sad role to take apart and put back together on screen. Lily really broke my heart.

Danielle, she’s going to go do things. You have hope for her. Yes, she goes through heartbreak, but not devastation. “Dirty Girl” is very much saying to someone, "Don’t judge a book by its cover." I don’t think that’s what “Little Birds” is saying at all. I think “Little Birds” is a much more tragic tale of, 'Welcome to being a fucked up teenager.'

I also shot them back to back. I had three days in between shooting “Little Birds” and “Dirty Girl.”



Three days?!

Yeah (laughs). It wasn’t even a week.

But what’s so great about “Dirty Girl” is that it’s really saying, 'find that person in high school that just gets you.' If you find that right person, you have a soul mate.

Do you have a person like that in your life, someone who helps keep you grounded?

I’ve got a bunch of special people in my life. I’ve got one best friend in my life who I’ve known since I was born; we were born together. That’s so important because they knew you all before this madness.

I also have some incredible mentors. Milla Jovovich is someone incredible I have in my life. I find her inspirational. I find she’s an actress who really does her own thing. I’ve been really lucky to have her in my life. She gives me great advice and a lot of love.

I’m very close with my family. They’ve been so amazing with me because I’m quite fleeting. Jeremy [Dozier, her co-star in "Dirty Girl"] became a really special friend of mine. We’ve been through some stuff together and I love him a lot. He’s so wonderful in this movie. I really hope it does great things for him.

About your family…you come from a pretty privileged background [Temple’s father is famed music video director Julien Temple; her mother is producer Amanda Pirie], but you seem to have mined this niche for playing American lower to middle class issue ridden youngsters. What do you think it is about you that casting directors go, “Yeah, she’s right for the part!”

I don’t think I’m afraid to show my vulnerability, which I think can sometimes work in my favor and sometimes it really doesn’t. It’s something I’m getting more aware of as I get older. It’s something that I find really difficult to hide.

I’m also very European in how I approach things like sexuality. I tackle things that maybe scares other people off. I’m also older than that age group now, even though I kind of look like I am that young still. I think there’s something that can be said about looking back at it and taking it in your stride. It’s not going to ruin your life to play it right now. When I was 16, it might have been really difficult to play a 16-year-old girl. To be ahead of the game and look back at it – I’m older and I’m wiser now and learning everyday.

I think knowledge is the key of life. You just got to keep learning and not be afraid to play characters that are crazy and damaged.

I think “The Three Musketeers” is the first movie I’ve done that my 3-year-old brother can see me in for maybe two years, so I’m excited about that. But while I can I want to play these young women.

Your brother can no doubt see you  in “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Yes!

How did you come on to that project?

(Silence)

You’re sworn to secrecy I’m guessing.

(Whispering) I don’t know if I’m even allowed to talk about.

Nothing at all?



(Still whispering) No, it’s very hush hush.

What’s it like being involved in a project so highly touted?

I think it’s so exciting. At some point I’ll be able to talk to the media about it.

Going back to “Dirty Girl” and that vulnerability you discussed. What kind of boundaries (if any) did you set up with director Abe Sylvia prior to shooting? This is his first film.

We talked a lot about being a young Southern girl in the 1980s because that’s a world apart from where I’ve been. Trust is really a big thing with me, especially with the roles I take.

One thing I’ve learned since I started acting is I’m not crying for Juno, I’m crying for a character. In “To Kill a Mockingbird," a great quote by Harper Lee goes, “You don’t know a man till you put on his shoes and walk on his front porch.” What better way to really be an actress than kind of try to do that?

This article is related to: Small Screens, Interviews, Juno Temple, Dirty Girl