With writer-director Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch getting released in less than a month (March 25), Warner Bros. has finally lifted my embargo and after the jump you can either read or listen to the on set interview I did with Emily Browning. As the star of Snyder’s crazy new film, Browning talked about how she bonded with the rest of the cast (Vanessa Hudgens, Jena Malone, Jamie Chung, Abbie Cornish), what it was like to act in several different levels of fantasy on top of all of the physical requirements of the role, the huge action set pieces, and so much more. Like I said in my set report, if you’re a fan of Zack Snyder – especially Zack Snyder’s action sequences – you’re going to absolutely love what he has in store for Sucker Punch.
Before going any further, if you haven’t seen the different trailers for Sucker Punch, click here. Finally, the full transcript is below but you can listen to the interview by clicking here for part 1, part 2 and part 3. We had to start and stop due to filming. And just to be clear, this interview was done in a group setting.
Emily Browning: Yeah. Jen, Abby, and I were training for three months before we even started filming. Vanessa and Jamie came in for a month as well. I mean, it’s bizarre. I was worried that five girls in a film together could be super bitchy, and it’s not. It’s not like that at all. Jena and I live together. If I don’t see one of them every day I will freak out. It’s like I need it. We just visit each other every weekend and we are just kind of like a total sisterhood. I think it’s because we trained together. So the first time you meet you are sweating, crying, and bleeding. It builds this crazy bond.
You have to perform this character in several different levels of fantasy and reality on top of all of the physical stuff. Is it extremely challenging?
Browning: I think for me there is no real differentiation in character in all of the fantasies worlds because it is my fantasy. For the other people, I think maybe there is more a difference with the girls being in the asylum and then in the brothel. I think it’s more different. But because it’s from my point of view, I sort of get off a little bit easy there.
You do have a lot of physical work and then you are dancing.
Browning: Well, I don’t get to dance. Right now, seeing this, I am broken hearted that I didn’t get to dance because it looks like so much fun. Every time I dance that is when we get into the fantasy world. So, if you ever saw me dancing you would be like, “Wow. She is alright, but she is not good enough to send me into a trance.”
Each of the characters have a sort of iconography that goes along with them. Did you have any input on that and how do you feel about the schoolgirl aspect that you have going on?
Browning: I love it. I mean, I love that in terms of aesthetics I am the most innocent looking, but Baby is really kind of the…I don’t want to say the toughest because all of the girls are tough in their own way. But I love the fact that it’s this total flip of what you would normally expect from that really innocent schoolgirl. She’s totally stoic, tough, and kind of angry. I just like that kind of juxtaposition. I think it’s pretty cool.
I’m curious about what this experience has been like with you. We’ve heard that you are on set every single day and you have zero days off.
Browning: Yeah, pretty much. It’s been tiring and insane. It sounds cheesy, but it’s the total truth that I just love everyone so much that it has not really been a problem. I mean, when I am here by myself, and the girls aren’t here, I get tired a lot quicker. When the girls are here, we can all keep each other’s energy up. Zack is just…you can see the set right now. It’s like a fucking party. It’s just so much fun here every day. So it’s really not too much of a worry.
Are you hoping you can maintain that relationship with the girls once the shoot is done?
Browning: Totally. It’s hard for me because I live in Australia and they all live in L.A. I’ve never wanted to move to L.A. until now. Now that they are all there I’m going to go “Maybe I’ll consider it.” I don’t even want to think about it. I don’t even know what it’s going to be like when I don’t see them every day.
What was your first reaction when you got the script? This is clearly a role that is very unusual for an actor to get. There are so many levels with fantasy, reality, and everything.
Browning: It’s like a dream come true, right? To get to do this kind of crazy other world, then the fighting, and then there is actually some really intense emotional stuff. It’s like a total dream come true to be able to do it. I thought it was going to be difficult, but no.
Browning: Learning to fight has been pretty hardcore. I remember when I first came in for training they were like, “So how often do you go to the gym?” and I was like. “What is a gym?” I’ve never ever worked out in my life. So just learning to fight. There is epk footage of us when we first started learning martial arts and I was awful. I was rubbish. So its been pretty challenging.
How long did it take before you were comfortable with shooting a gun?
Browning: That didn’t take too long actually. It took, like, two days at the shooting range and then I was okay with it. It’s weird, though. Being from Australia, I’ve never even touched a gun. It’s so not a part of our culture. So it was kind of bizarre the first time I had it. I was totally freaked out. Now, I’m sort of freaked out by how much I enjoy shooting them. It’s kind of a worry. [laughs]
You’re shooting with your left hand too, right?
Browning: Right, because I have my samurai sword in my other hand. I think it was kind of better because I have no memory built into my left hand so I could learn from scratch.
You wear a lot of different outfits in this film. Can you talk about what you wear and what was your reaction when you realized the revealing or non-revealing nature of your outfits?
Browning: Well, when I signed on the film was still R-rated. There was going to be a scene where I was going to be almost completely nude. So I was sort of prepared for that from the beginning. But I think almost all of the costumes are sort of more intimidating to wear than actually being there topless because everything is so like pushed up, sucked in, and it’s kind of this weird crazy version of it. I felt like a women, which I’ve never felt like before. [laughs] It was this mental thing. I don’t know, it’s kind of fine I guess because the set is so comfortable and it’s so much just part…it’s not nudity for nudity’s sake. They work in a brothel and it’s kind of necessary. I don’t know, it’s ok. Michael Wilkinson, the costume designer, was so careful to make sure that we felt comfortable and that he wasn’t revealing anything that we didn’t want to reveal.
For a lot of movie fans Zack Snyder is the guy who did 300, which is this big testosterone macho dude picture. This is a really woman centric movie with five great lead actresses in it. Were you surprised that Zack was able to get women the way he did or is that something that you think comes natural to him?
Browning: I don’t know. I mean, I think in terms of the emotional stuff and the female relationships – I think that the girls all definitely had an input into it. I also don’t think these are regular every day women. They are kind of just a little different. Yeah, it is kind of surprising that he understands the way that he does. But a lot of times he’s also like…in terms of that emotional stuff, he will tell us to do something and he will be like, “Is that okay?” I think he’s very careful to make sure that we…
So he kind of turns to you guys for the input?
Browning: I think so. I mean, I don’t want to say that we are directing it. But he is definitely really sensitive. If we feel like something is not right, he is totally sensitive to that. It’s pretty cool.
Browning: Yes, this is true. You know what? I’m doing that in January and I haven’t even…I don’t even know. I don’t think they even have a previz yet. I don’t think I know any of my fight stuff in that. So I honesty l can’t tell you anything about it because I have no idea what I’m doing.
There are four action set pieces that we have been told about. What have you filmed already and can you talk about it?
Browning: The first thing we did was World War 1. I’m filming my sword piece for that right now. That’s what I was doing today. Those guys are all fighting in the trenches and then I go into the bunker to fight the Colonel. They all get locked out. So my big fight piece is in the bunker. That is what I’m doing for this whole week while these guys dance. So there is that and there are these kind of crazy zombie robot Germans, who we fight. Then, we also filmed the dragon world, where we fight orcs and knights. We go and slay a dragon at the end. It’s ridiculous. It’s like nerd fantasy, which is just awesome for me. It’s the most exciting thing ever! Then, the last one is train world, which we don’t really know much about yet, but we are filming in two weeks. I think it’s not so much martial arts. It’s mostly swords and guns. So it will be a little easier to learn. The first sequence is actually me by myself and it’s the samurai world.
What is your connection to the other girls in the film?
Browning: Well, I come into the insane asylum.
Is it an immediate bonding or something?
Browning: No, when I get to the asylum, I don’t really…it’s really just me seeing them and then I guess they then kind of get incorporated into my fantasy. Rocket and I sort of become really close. Sweet Pea and I sort of butt heads a little bit because I think she worries that I’m going to lead Rocket astray. Vanessa, Blondie, is kind of Sweet Pea’s little offside and she doesn’t like me very much. Amber is really kind of naïve and sweet, and really wants to be my friend. I sort of take this weird leader position and try to help them escape.
Part of our job is to try to help people understand what is coming. Your character is in the center of this imaginary world. How would you describe this movie? How would you get someone to come see it based off of your experience of the story so far?
Browning: I think when you tell people that it’s set in an insane asylum, a brothel, and there are dragons, orcs, and twelve foot samurais – I’m pretty sure they are going to want to see it. [laughs]
Browning: Well, brothel and guns, right?
Are you doing any singing in this?
Browning: I am. I’ve never sung before in my life, but I have a little kind of…the girls and I have a song together and I have a little piece.
Have you done a lot of vocal training so far?
Browning: No, I haven’t done any. I just went into the recording studio and recorded the song, and luckily it worked. What happened is that when I auditioned for the film Zack had auditioned for every character except for Baby Doll. Then, Zack called me up and he was like, “Well, I want you to audition for Baby Doll, but I need you to sing.” I was like, “Oh, I don’t sing. So, don’t worry about it.” He was like, “No, just try it! Give it a try!” So I thought, “Well, okay.” So I put myself on tape and sent him a tape of me singing and I don’t know. I guess it worked out. We haven’t had any vocal training or anything. We’ve all just kind of been thrown into it.
Was it scary? Jena said the dancing was the scariest thing for her.
Browning: That’s because she sings more than she talks. She just sings all of the time and she has an amazing voice. So that probably wasn’t scary for her. For me, the singing was terrifying. Especially because when we do it they want us to do it live. They want to record us on stage doing it live. So It’s going to be…I don’t know. I’m going to wet myself. [laughs]
This movie looks really cool, but it’s not coming out until March 2011. You’re going to be doing a lot of interviews over the next year. You’re going to be able to talk about it, but it’s going to take a long time. Could you talk about the wait for the film?
Browning: Yeah, it is kind of insane. We are all sort of…I’ve never been in the position before where before I even started filming a movie I wanted to see it. I’m not usually overtly excited about something I’m doing where I am like, “I just want to see it. I just want to see it!” So it’s going to be kind of painful and frustrating. Also, maybe not seeing the girls for such a long time. It’s also the first time I am excited about doing press. I usually hate going around and doing press. It sort of stresses me out. I’m really excited about it this time because I will get to reunite with the girls.
Browning: They are shooting EPK every day, but it’s not so much. We don’t really have time. We are so busy. I’m filming every day and even when the other girls aren’t filming they are doing dance rehearsals. When I’m not filming I’m doing stunt rehearsals.
You mentioned that this is sort of like nerd heaven. This indicates that you have nerdyness within you.
Browning: [laughs] Maybe. Just a little.
I represent the comic book nerdiness community. Do you read any comic books at all?
Browning: I’ve never really gotten into comic books. I’m really sorry.
What is your nerdy flavor?
Browning: [laughs] I don’t know. I’m kind of obsessed with Dragon Ball Z. I’m into video games, but only real specific lame video games. In a more traditional nerd sense, I just read lots of books and I enjoyed school.
Browning: I’ve never been. I’m so excited! I’m really excited. All of my friends are nerds and they have always wanted to go. Once I told them we were going next year, they all literally booked tickets immediately. So they are all coming out. My friends from Australia are all traveling over to Comic Con so that we could all be there together.
Who is your favorite Dragon Ball Z character?
Browning: I’m a bit of a fan of Trunks and I like the Androids as well.
And when you go to Comic Con you can dress as them. [everybody laughs]
Browning: Well, that is what I was thinking. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if all of the girls walked out on stage and said “I walked out last night dressed like Princess Lea” or something. It would be the best thing ever. It would have nothing to do with the film. I think it would be funny.
I think the crowd would go nuts.
For more coverage from our Sucker Punch set visit: