Having dabbled in films both large and small, moving between television and film, Emmy Rossum has earned her place as an intriguing young actress who greatly enhances the material around her. The next logical step would be for her to finally play the villain, and in “Beautiful Creatures” she plays Ridley, cousin to young potential sorceress Lena Ducane, an over-the-top role that allowed Rossum to let her freak flag fly.
Richard LaGravenese’s adaptation of the popular YA book series has its share of fantasy elements, as Rossum reveals, “I cause a lot of trouble! I cause a tsunami, I shatter windows, I create wind tunnels.” But in the end it was rooting it in the reality of her surroundings in this saucy Southern Gothic tale. “I tried to exploit everything that’s feminine and soft and everything about a Southern belle, turning that on its head and making it a little dark,” she explains. “This is an over-the-top character, she wants to own the room, she wants to be the center of attention.”
Rossum, currently shooting the third season of “Shameless” for Showtime, was thrilled to be in a fantasy film where so much of the effects are practical. “The climax of the movie happens at a dining room in a segment that appears in the trailer,” Rossum states. “The room was actually spinning, it was actually a table with chairs attached to it, with Jeremy Irons, Margo Martindale, Eileen Atkins on the table spinning in different directions. The whole thing was on a hydraulic gimble, and when they finally made it happen it was so fantastical to watch, especially because so much of that stuff is like, usually just a director saying, this is what it’s gonna be, so pretend this stuff is happening. We’ll put it in later.”
The film features a loaded cast, and along with the aforementioned names is one of Rossum’s inspirations, the great Emma Thompson. “Emma is the most funny, down to earth woman,” Rossum gushes. “One of the first days I was on set I was in Ridley’s most audacious in-your-face lingerie look, and we were in the hair and makeup trailer. She pulled up her dress to show me her character’s lingerie, which were like granny panties and a big ’40s-style brassiere and garters. She made me feel at ease, and was hysterically funny.”
It was this saucy look that contributed to Ridley’s ab-fab lifestyle, one Rossum had trouble shaking. “I usually am a pretty low-key in my life,” Rossum admits. “But this was fun. I had these long pointy nails that didn’t come off for three or four months so during that time, it changes you way you touch things, the way you move around. I couldn’t make a bed. So I did become this Pascha princess for a little while. I literally was not able to feel myself.”
Rossum’s also keeping busy in the future. Along with a new album the singer-actress has set for release early next year, she’ll be starring in another Southern tale, the drama “Way Down South.” And it sounds like she’ll get to have quite a bit of fun in that film as well. “It’s a low-class sort of thing,” she says about the grungy storyline, involving the theft of Civil War artifacts. “I like the character a lot, she’s kind of a Southern train wreck, like an Amy Winehouse.”
“Beautiful Creatures” opens on February 13, 2013.