At this point, it’s probably sexist to point out that the strikingly beautiful Alice Eve is also Oxford-educated and
eloquently outspoken about worldly issues. But don’t get her wrong, she’s proud
of both her brain and her six-pack. In Neil LaBute’s latest film, “Dirty Weekend,”
which opens in limited release on September 4, Eve and co-star Matthew Broderick play co-workers who find
themselves trapped on a layover in Albuquerque. The duo heads out on an
adventure visiting sex shops, coffee houses and gay bars in attempt to solve a
bit of a sexual mystery.
As in much of LaBute’s work, the film features
bitingly sharp dialogue and forces its main characters to explore their
subconscious desires, even if society still considers them taboo.
Indiewire recently hopped on the phone with Eve to inquire about “Dirty Weekend,” her second of LaBute’s films, sexism, “Star
Trek” and yes, those six pack abs.
I know you’ve worked
with Neil LaBute before, but tell me what drew you to this role and this film.
This will be my second time with him. We worked together in
2012 on a film called “Some Velvet Morning” and when we finished, he
sent me this script. It was very different material actually compared to
“Some Velvet Morning,” which was, I think, a much darker piece. I think
with this one he likes to hark back to the ’40s with lighter fare. He kind of
imagined a Jack Lemmon character that would be in [Matthew] Broderick’s role.
So the main thing that drew me to the project was getting to work with Neil
again and falling into the rhythm of his lines. But I also think he’s woven an
interesting tale about suppression of true desire and the complication of
finding who you really are and following that through.
Much of your
character’s background is slowly revealed throughout the film. How did you
develop her throughout the process?
I got to know her really well, I think. Matthew and I were
able to kind of maintain a sense of the relationship that was on screen in real
life. I think that method acting gets a bad name or is derided, but we kept a
level of maintaining the essence of that character and living with them and
carrying that around with you. And we did that on this, we both had elements of
the character we were playing with us.
So did you and
Matthew “stay in character” while the camera wasn’t rolling?
I think “staying in character” is maybe
overstating it. I think it was keeping the essence and the energy around, the
same energy that the characters had, we kept that energy. Of course we were
free to talk and do as we pleased and change the subject and not actually be
Nat and Les, but I think there was just an energy and the tone of our
relationship was carried over.
LaBute’s films are
known for maintaining a dialogue-heavy quality that he brings from his theater
work. How did that differ for you as compared to other projects?
It’s definitely different, in the compressed nature of it. So
it’s a different process, but the idea of putting that energy in, it yields
great rewards. You feel a great sense of achievement when you’ve done that,
when you’ve worked really, really hard. Me and Matthew would sit and learn
lines in the hotel restaurant, trying to work it out the night before. In that
way it really is very theatrical. So I found it definitely to be a challenge,
but one I was really excited to engage in.
You mentioned a bit
about how you and Matthew worked together; he’s such an icon in both theater
and film, what did you expect going into such a one-on-one piece with him?
He’s a bit of just an icon in life, too! He’s one of those
people…he just has funny bones. He’s one of those guys that, when you see him,
within 30 seconds you’re laughing. He’s making some joke. He’s just an iconic
man. As Neil said in a Q&A, he’s one of a kind, there’s only one Matthew.
I enjoyed working with him very much.
matter often digs into various taboo subjects, the potential of humans to have
strange desires or interests. What did you discuss with him about the content?
Well, I think that Neil and I both agree, and that’s a maybe
fundamental, unsaid thing between us, that nothing is strange. It’s strange to
think that anything is normal. Everything exists and therefore everything is.
And I think we both agree on that, and he certainly isn’t afraid to lift up the
lid and look under society’s taboo list and expose it and explore it and
investigate it and enjoy that. And I’m sort of the same way. Nothing is wrong
or disallowed unless it’s evil and hurting someone willfully. So I think that’s
a bit cool. But I think that all we are is who we are and I like that about
him, he’s brave.
Albuquerque is one of
those lesser-visited American cities that foreigners might not get to. As a
Brit, have you been exposed to many of theses smaller towns or cities all across
I actually love the lesser, unexplored side of America. I
had been to New Mexico, to Santa Fe, but also my husband and I take road trips
around. We went around the Deep South in Louisiana and Tennessee. We’ve done a
lot of exploring of the country. It’s amazing how much is out there and how
much different culture there is.
Albuquerque has a lot of new culture, a lot of pop culture,
obviously because of “Breaking Bad.” So you see the car wash and everything, and
that’s definitely something that stands out about that city and they’re proud
of that. They’re proud of that stronghold they have, it was a wonderful show.
Are you the kind of
actor who knows what you want and has a career plan or do you try to stay open
to all kinds of things?
I think I’ve got to have a little bit of both. Every time
you have a plan it can be disappointing if it doesn’t come to fruition. So you
have to have a level of fluidity, but at the same time you need a bit of
direction. You need to know where you think you want to go and then be willing
to move along the way. In my career, I just want to continue to tell stories of
complicated people, people whose stories deserve to be told. I just want to be
able to tell stories, for it’s…that’s why I exist, really. It’s what I love to
do. It gives me a great, great deep pleasure. So I hope to be able to continue
I know that you’re
very outspoken about women in the industry and the sexism they face. Have there
been any particular instances where sexism has impacted you, personally?
My outspokenness on this issue is not a personal issue, it’s
an issue to do with the longstanding, historical subjugation of women in
society, whether that be financial or through physical violence. The list is
endless in the various ways that women are oppressed in various cultures over
time. When I speak, I don’t speak on behalf of myself. I speak on behalf of
women. I have a lot of time and a lot of thoughts in my head to ponder that.
And I do believe that, us being a capitalist society in the west, the main
differentiation between equality is economic. We still don’t get paid the same as men. And
when I say “we” I don’t mean actresses, I mean women.
There was a piece in The New York Times recently on Gloria Steinem
and in it they draw attention to the fact that in 1958 women made 63 cents to
every dollar made by men and in 2013 they got 78 cents to every dollar made by
men. So that’s nearly 50 years –15 cents.
Yeah, it makes you
Yeah, do you feel like that?
It’s not just in the arts, it
permeates every industry. You can feel undervalued on occasion.
Yeah, because in our society value is exchanged with money.
So yeah that’s how you feel undervalued. And it’s not a fight; it’s just
awareness. And I think awareness is still very important.
There was a big issue after the release of the last “Star Trek” film, which
was lambasted for having a sexist moment, a shot of you in the underwear. Looking
back on that, did you think that was overblown or an appropriate reaction?
I worked very hard to achieve that moment, that screen time,
to get a six-pack. It’s not easy to get a six-pack, and I remain very proud of
that moment. I don’t feel a victim of that situation. I don’t feel a victim in
many places in my life. I feel I’m a very lucky individual, and I made that
choice. I’m an educated, independent woman and I decided that would be a fine
thing to do and me and J.J. [Abrams] did it and there was nothing underhand or
awkward. Then it kind of took on a life of its own. But I don’t think that’s
what will remain of that image. I think what will remain is the movie, the
power, the fact that its like a Princess Leia moment. The fact that it’s
something that’s allowed to be iconic, aside from the male moments being
iconic. Yes she’s an intelligent, strong, educated woman who…also has a six-pack. [laughs]
I would be remiss if
I didn’t also ask about an incident from earlier this year, which was your
Instagram comments on Caitlyn Jenner. I know you apologized, but since the
incident have your opinions changed or have you looked more into transgender
Absolutely. And I have a deep and unending sympathy for
someone who’s experiencing such internal pain, as they are. Like being in the
wrong room of a house where you can’t find the light. It must be incredible.
But my issue is not a transgender issue, it’s an issue for women, and I don’t
want the two to be conflated. It’s not the same thing.