Audiohhollywood: “Hemingway’s Garden of Eden” has a complex story with dark undertones, how did you deconstruct the story for yourself in order to understand the character?
Mena Suvari: I spent a great deal of time scouring through the book and read it several times to really understand the psychology of Catherine and understand exactly where she was not only physically with her appearance, but mentally and emotionally as well.
AH: What about your character’s motivations were obvious to you after reading the script?
MS: I believe that Catherine motivations stem from a lack of security and confidence that she feels she doesn’t hold. I see her as a woman who is simply lost and trying to find here own identity and way through life.
AH: How did you collaborate with the writer or director to flesh out your character and make her more three-dimensional?
MS: I feel so lucky to have been able to work with such a wonderfully supportive director, John Irvin. He was so well-versed in Hemingway’s works and in his life that he was a true inspiration on set. It was very important to all of us that the film was a true portrayal of the book. The book is so intricately written that there was plenty to draw from to make Catherine fully realized on screen.
AH: Given the nature of the movie’s erotic scenes, did the cast have time to rehearse and get to know each other before filming began?
MS: We arrived over in Spain, where we shot the film, a couple weeks before shooting and we had the time to go out to lunches, dinners, etc. and get to know one another more. I had actually known and worked with Jack Huston beforehand on a project called Factory Girl, so I believe that helped a bit in the process.
AH: Your character’s changing hairstyles serve as guideposts in the story; did you really cut and die your hair? How was that process worked out?
MS: Yes, I cut my hair very to short to a type of ‘boys haircut’ before I left for filming. Then once I got to set in Spain when we were doing costume fittings, makeup tests, etc., the bleached my hair platinum. They then had created three different wigs for me to wear throughout the film.
AH: There are quite a few attention to details with regard to the costumes and props used; can you talk about your wardrobe and how it helped you create the character?
MS: First of all, I am a huge love of fashion and especially the period of the 1920’s/30’s, so it was an absolute blast for me to be able to work on this film and to be working with such an amazing costumer, Alexandra Byrne. Before filming, Jack, John, and I were taken through the props stage to look at and choose all of then personal articles specific to our characters, such as a pair of sunglasses, or ‘David’s’ pocket watch, etc. For me, being able to fully transform and transport back to that period provided a greater connection for me to the character and the story as a whole.
AH: The locations in “Hemingway’s Garden of Eden” are superb. Did you get to enjoy your time there?
MS: We had an extraordinary time while filming in such a picturesque location. I think we were all, at times, pinching ourselves back to reality!
AH: It’s been over a decade since “American Beauty.” When you look back at your career what do you still want to accomplish?
MS:I hope to simply continue doing what I love while learning and growing from the characters that I play. I feel so grateful to have been given the opportunity to work on this film and for every project that has come my way. I try to stay true to who I am, the work that I do, and embrace each and every moment.