Gemma Arterton discusses her role in producer Jerry Bruckheimer's latest Disney adventure film
It didn't take twenty-four year old British actress Gemma Arterton very long to establish her self as a successful movie star and Hollywood's new "It" girl. She began her career as a Bond girl playing MI6 agent Strawberry Fields opposite Daniel Craig's James Bond in Quantum of Solace, then returned to the screen earlier this year in Clash of the Titans, the popular remake of the classic '80s mythology film starring Sam Worthington. Now Arterton is back once again with another huge adventure film as she takes on the role of Princess Tamina opposite Academy Award nominee Jake Gyllenhaal in Jerry Bruckheimer's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, which is based on the beloved video game and opens in theaters of May 28th.
In the film, Arterton's Tamina must join forces with Gyllenhaal's Dastan in order to protect "The Dagger Of Time," a magical weapon that has the power to reverse time and allow its possessor to rule the world, before it falls into the hands of the evil Nizam played by Oscar winner Ben Kingsley. We recently had a chance to speak with Gemma Arterton about the new film, her character's quest, how she won the role, what it's like working on a Jerry Bruckheimer set and the chances of her returning for a possible sequel. Here is what the talented young actress had to say:
To begin with, the film hasn't even opened yet and there have already been several rumors about a possible sequel, if that happened would you be interested in reprising your role in the next film?
Gemma Arterton: Yeah I would love to actually. We made it two years ago and I feel refreshed so if they wanted to do another, which I'm sure as it is hinted at (towards the end of the film) that there are many different avenues that it can go down. At the end of the film it is hinted that they have become like this alliance and started this sort of partnership. You know, in the games themselves there were all these different lands that they visited, so now I'm putting in all my suggestions to Jerry and I'm like, beaches maybe? Maybe the tropics so we get to go somewhere nice and hot?
Since you just mentioned speaking to Jerry Bruckheimer about it, exactly what have you been told so far about a the chances of a sequel?
Gemma Arterton: When I signed up to do this movie it was always kind of spoken about that there may be sequels but they have not spoken about what the story would be or anything like that. I think it is all very reliant on how well it does. I don't think they want to jump in too soon.
Can you talk about the importance of the task your character has been handed from the Gods; protecting the "Dagger Of Time," how that affects her and sends her on her journey in the film?
Gemma Arterton: Well she is quite refreshing actually in the film. She is this really spiritual girl that believes in the task at hand so much and for me that was a big challenge actually because it is so fantastical to act that. She is within this movie with all these guys full of testosterone, willing to kill things and she is this pure soul that is trying to do what she thinks is right. She has to teach everybody else that it's right without being preachy so she starts off by not revealing it.
She has her secrets that she keeps about it. She doesn't reveal her secrets about this and people don't know who she is or what she is doing. She reveals it very gradually through the film, this secret that she has that she believes fully and it was such a gorgeous character to play because aside from all of the action and stuff that she has, she's actually a priestess. She's pure, she's young, she's naive, she's funny and she'd do anything to do what she thinks is right. I loved that and I loved playing her.
When Princess Tamina first meets Dastan she obviously has reasons not to like him, his family has just seized her kingdom, but she slowly begins to trust him and realizes that the Gods have sent him to help her fulfill her duty of protecting the dagger. Can you talk about that shift in your character and how that begins to lend it's self to the feelings that she eventually has for him?
Gemma Arterton: I think that, well you know, if you meet the love of your life there's always this inexplicable thing that happens. It's kind of like ... you can't even explain it but when you first meet them that's what happens and it happens for her. Even though he kidnaps her and all this horrible stuff happens there is something that happens the first time that they meet. Also she is very spiritual and very in touch with intuition, faith and destiny so I do think that she has an idea that this guy is important when she meets him.
As the film goes on they realize that they both have to open themselves up to each other. They realize that they are each part of each other's destinies and they have to work together. So of course all the fun things happen where they take the Mickey out of each other and there is a lot of banter but there is this attraction between them all the way through the movie. But what I love is there is also this sensitivity to the movie as well, its not just a big action movie, there is romance there. That's what happens between the two of them. I like to say that it's a romantic action adventure, not just an action adventure.
Director Mike Newell has mentioned publicly that originally he was looking to cast a sixteen-year old girl from Bollywood, Israeli or Egypt to play Princess Tamina and then you walked in and he knew he had found the right actress for the part. Can you talk about that first meeting with him, the audition process in general for you and what you ultimately did to convince him that you were right for the role?
Gemma Arterton: So I went into the audition process sort of completely thinking that I wouldn't get the job, which was a really good thing because it meant that I wouldn't put any pressure on myself. So I just sort of went to this meeting, met Mike and was cheeky and funny. Since doing the movie he's told me why he cast me in the movie and what it was and I think the thing that he liked was the steely wit but with a real innocents behind it. Like a naivety I suppose and at the time I was very naive and very new to the world that we were going into. I don't know, I think that's why Tamina is a really interesting character because she's not a femme fatal, she's young and she doesn't know what she is doing a lot of the time. Even when she is kissing somebody or trying to seduce someone, it's the first time that she's ever done it.
So I did an audition and it went on tape and Jerry saw it and loved it. Then I did various screen tests and things. I was amazed actually because I did think that they would end up going with someone that was a young Bollywood actress or something like that. For me as an English girl I was quite astounded at my luck really.
You actually made "Prince Of Persia" before you shot "Clash Of The Titans" so can you talk about being a young British actress and what you were feeling the first time you were on a big, Hollywood, Jerry Bruckheimer set? Were you nervous or overwhelmed at all and if so how did you overcome that in order to give your performance?
Gemma Arterton: Yeah I was very nervous, overwhelmed and I didn't know what I was doing but actually that was quite good. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. I didn't put too much pressure on myself. Also, after a while you get so over the fact that you are nervous because you've got too much work to do. Really cool people on film sets always surround you and I made some really, really brilliant friends. That made everything else easier because I was hanging out with the crew mostly because they are just people like me, you know?
Finally, what can you tell us about your upcoming film "Tamara Drewe," which is based on the popular British comic strip?
Gemma Arterton: Yes, it is another comic strip thing but it's a different type of comic strip thing because it was in The Guardian newspaper and it was a massive hit in the UK. I play a journalist who comes back to her hometown after a nose job, looking great, and was an ugly duckling before that. Her arrival stirs up all these emotions and passions in a village, because that's the type of girl she is and it causes havoc. It's very funny, charming, witty, and I'm very proud of it.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was released May 28th, 2010 and stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina, Steve Toussaint, Toby Kebbell, Richard Coyle, Ronald Pickup. The film is directed by Mike Newell.