Asked whether or not she likes “Pretty Woman,” Alice Eve answers with an enthusiastic, “Of course!” The English actress defends the “classic film of my childhood” as a fairy tale and quotes in a New York accent, “Who are you, Cinder-[bleepin’]-rella?”
She agrees, though, that “Some Velvet Morning,” opening Dec. 20, could be seen as a more realistic “Pretty Woman.” Fred (Stanley Tucci) tells Velvet (Eve), a prostitute who is also his former mistress whom he hasn’t seen in years, that he has finally left his wife and wants to be with her. “The problem is the reality of the situation is that let’s say Fred did have the best intentions like Richard Gere; Velvet is too damaged to be able to sustain a normal life,” the 31-year-old Eve (“Star Trek Into Darkness,” “Men in Black 3”) says from New York. “And that does happen. You go to the point of no return. You go ‘til you’re beyond saving; ‘til normality and beauty and happily ever after is no longer of interest. Because the only way you can feel is by damaging.”
The fascinating, unpredictable film is a clear return to the days when writer-director Neil LaBute was making highly discussable portraits of human vulnerability and cruelty like “In the Company of Men” and “Your Friends and Neighbors.” Eve’s terrific in the role, and the actress—who compares watching movies to eating pancakes—is quite irresistible on the phone.
There’s so much history that has to be built between Fred and Velvet. How daunting and/or difficult is it to build that as an actress?
Well, it’s daunting I suppose if you consider it. If you just jump in and go for it, then it’s less daunting. I think you realize the toll it’s taken after the fact. I think after you’ve done it is when you realize that it maybe cost you something.
How did you realize it in this case?
I think I felt vulnerable and I felt like I had been through something, undergone an experience. At the time you go through it and you’re excited and it’s creative and it is fulfillling, incredibly fulfilling artistically to work with people like Stanley and Neil and material like this. To imagine the minds of other people who are in complex and difficult situations. But I think after that you then go, “Oh, actually some of that penetrated. Some of that went in and I felt it. And then that hurt.”
How long after shooting were you aware of that?
I think for a couple of weeks afterwards I was a bit bruised.
Speaking of bruised, Fred says he leaves his wife while she’s out shopping. That’s pretty awful. What’s the worst real-life dumping story you’ve ever heard?
I guess it’s de rigeur now. People dump on text all the time or Facebook or probably Instagram, I don’t know. Anything impersonal is pretty [regular]. Dumping in itself is the ultimate betrayal and really should never take place, but it does all the time. I guess it’s sad.
I’m trying to wonder what a dumping over Instagram would be.
You’d have to @ them. Or you could just Instagram a picture saying, “You’re dumped.”
I feel like if people were really going to be cruel they’d Instagram a picture of themselves kissing someone else.
That’s the equivalent of a dumping. I think that qualifies.
Which is worse: a woman sleeping with both a father and a son, or a guy stealing his son’s girlfriend?
Wow. Deep-end stuff here then, in Chicago. I think they’re both pretty bad. They’re both real crossing lines stuff. The thing about the father stealing the son’s girlfriend is all three people are cognizant of it. I suppose there can be one or two parties protected in the other scenario.
That was actually a really good point.
A lot of times people say if you’re a guest somewhere you should leave the place in better condition than when you’ve arrived. The movie made me think about how people often don’t do that with each other.
That’s a very good point too. This is the best interview I’ve had today. No, they don’t do that, what you said there. That’s stupid, isn’t it? … I think [people’s] first inclination is to love with a complete abandon and innocence, and then that goes wrong and from there on out it’s a gray area, and everyone’s doing their best in a set of blurred lines.