Andrea Riseborough is about to hit screens as Wallis Simpson in the Madonna-directed “W.E.,” but the actress is quick to point out that she has a slew of non-period films coming up, including her Sundance IRA thriller “Shadow Dancer” and ensemble drama “Disconnect.”
“I’ve done less period films than modern things,” Riseborough told The Playlist. “I just have had more period things come out in the U.S. first. Sometimes you do something and it doesn’t come out for years!”
After “W.E.,” Riseborough shot the last of her period films for a stretch, an alternative history pic called “Resistance” in which she — coincidentally — also plays an accused Nazi sympathizer. “Resistance” imagines what it would have been like had Germany invaded England during World War II, and her character Sarah Lewis is an abandoned farmer’s wife who falls for a Nazi commander.
“Obviously Sarah and Wallis Simpson are two different people, but the thing that I loved about this take was exploring being in a state of almost apocalyptic limbo,” Riseborough said. “My character, her husband has disappeared, and she doesn’t know if she’ll ever regain his company or not. The not knowing is so hard. And even if she’s loyal to him and doesn’t want to let go of her life, the need for human contact always wins out. It’s the closest I’ve come to imagining the deepest tragedy that war holds.”
Following “Resistance,” Riseborough shot the political thriller “Shadow Dancer,” with Clive Owen, in which she plays a member of the IRA who informs on members of her own family to the British (“I researched everything I could on that one!” she said) and the action-heavy crime thriller “Welcome to the Punch,” in which a detective (James McAvoy) teams with an ex-criminal (Mark Strong) to expose a conspiracy (“It has a fantastic cast,” she enthused).
Her most modern role yet however will be in “Disconnect” — in which she plays a news anchor who gets caught up in a relationship with someone she met in an internet chat room. “She’s pretty frustrated,” Riseborough said. “She’s very well educated but in a small news station, with a small town mentality, where she’s endlessly reporting on charity drives, cats stuck up trees, corn fields. I mean, the charity drives are worthy [of her time], but apart from that…”
As part of her work on a story, she starts spending time in chat rooms, “where you have to pay to spend time with somebody,” the actress said, “and she ends up with a younger boy [played by Max Thieriot], and they strike up a relationship, which becomes personal.”
Riseborough’s story then becomes part of the film’s two other storylines (one of which involves Jason Bateman‘s estranged teenage son, another of which involves Alexander Skarsgård‘s failing marriage). “Our stories do interwine,” she said. “They end up colliding more than intertwining, but I don’t want to spoil it too much!”
“It’s an interesting script with an interesting director,” she continued. “To me, it was the first script that very succinctly and very beautifully expressed how disconnected we all are through technology, and explored it in a way that was about what it is to be human.”
“W.E.” opens on Friday, February 3rd.