With Walt Disney’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time getting released this weekend, a few days ago I got to do a phone interview with the lovely Gemma Arterton. As most of you have seen the trailers and know what the film is about, I’m going to keep this intro brief. But if you’re not familiar, here’s a bunch of clips from the movie with the full synopsis.
During the interview we talked about the challenges of filming in Morocco and what it was like making the movie, and we also talked about her other projects like Tamara Drewe and The Disappearance of Alice Creed. Also, even though Warner Bros. is moving forward with Clash of the Titans 2, she revealed that she’s not yet signed for a sequel so it’s up to her whether or not to come back. Finally, with how much Clash of the Titans changed during filming, I asked what was her reaction to the final product. Hit the jump to read or listen to the interview.
As usual, the transcript is below or you can listen to the audio by clicking here. Again, Prince of Persia opens this weekend.
Collider: So I guess I’ll just jump in and say what the hell has this last few been like for you promoting this…
Gemma: Oh my God. It’s been absolutely mental. It’s been brilliant though. I was sort of dreading it because, you know for me it was always like God this is going to be crazy and the film is going to come out and I’m going to all these premieres and you know, for me, it was always quite daunting, but it’s actually been a lot easier than I thought it would be and also been so much fun. Like we’ve all worked so hard don’t you know on this film and it’s actually really cool that we’ve been able to enjoy ourselves and got to go to incredible places and it’s been nuts, but brilliant.
Well, this also leads into the last year or year and a half for you filming these movies and all these different projects. Are you finally at a place where you’re sort of slowing down a little bit an enjoying the time off?
Gemma: Yeah, yeah for sure. I mean, last year I made 4 movies and also did a play, so I just didn’t stop and I think for the first couple of years I needed to get myself sort of out there, but also do good work in between that I was proud of that was kind of doing the TV bits and the small movies as well. Now I feel like I’m in a better place because you know I feel like I’m getting respect which is really cool because I’ve kind of had to work for that a little bit and so yeah, I’ve got a little bit more of promotional stuff to do and then I can have a bit of time off which I can’t wait. It means I can be more…hopefully because there’s more stuff coming my way, I can choose more. I don’t have to do everything that comes my way, which is really great, so I’m being more selective and therefore having a bit more time.
You obviously will not remember, but I was one of the many people that visited the set of Clash of the Titans.
Gemma: Oh right, when we were in London?
Yeah, at the…
I don’t even know.
Gemma: At Longcross. It was at Longcross, yeah. Oh okay.
One of those places. But what struck me about…I definitely have Prince of Persia stuff, but I want to ask you that film had a dramatic transformation in the editing room. Like with the storyline with Zeus…there were some changes. What was your take on it as…because obviously you’re in the movie, very involved. But what was your take with the story sort of switching a little bit? How were you and the fact that they’ve already talked about moving forward on a sequel?
Gemma: Well, you know you sign up to do a movie and I signed up to do a movie that was pretty much kind of like the Greek myth and then you’re there and then they change it and they show it to you at test screenings and then they change it again and you know, it’s kind of hard because you don’t actually know where it’s going to go, you know? And it’s like this with any movie. You turn up, you do the work, and who knows what’s going to happen after you’ve done it. It’s kind of out of your hands in a way. So, you know, the finished product was actually, I was kind of worried about it at first because I was thinking what if it…I don’t know what’s going to go on with the story and I’m such a sucker for Greek mythology I was thinking, “oh no please don’t veer too far away from the Greek myth.” But actually the final product I was really happy with it. I hear that they’re talking about a sequel but I don’t know what ‘s going on with that and no one’s come to me with a script or anything yet, so we’ll see.
Gemma: No I didn’t actually. It was… I think the film was so successful that I think that they kind of like wow, you know nobody knew how successful it was going to actually end up being. And so with this one they…and there was always talk that there may be a sequel but I was never involved. You know, it was never part of my contract. Sometimes you have to sign a thing. No, it was never spoken about.
Oh so you get the advantage of choosing if you want to come back or not?
Gemma: Yeah. It’s a nice position to be in.
No, totally. All right, well jumping into Prince for a second, one of the things about the film, you guys shot in Morocco in July and August, which is just such a comfortable month to be filming on location in Morocco. If you could go back there, what would be the one or two places you’d want to go revisit if you ever went back there?
Gemma: Oh, I’d go back to the desert because we were only there, you know the Sahara desert like all the sand dunes and everything. We were there for like 2 weeks but we were filming so flat out that we actually didn’t get to travel around it. And you can do these incredible like night-time excursions under the stars and sleep out in the middle of nowhere. And for me, I think that’s just a once in a lifetime thing. And I didn’t get to do it while I was there, which is a real shame. But it was incredible. I mean it’s extraordinary in that the landscape obviously. I’d go there and then I’d like to go back to Marrakesh as well because it’s such a brilliant city. So vibrant and so much going on. It’s very different now to how it was years ago but there’s still this sensual kind of real pure Moroccan hub and it’s just an incredible place. I loved it there.
Obviously, Prince of Persia based on the video game. When you get this project based on the game do you sort of force yourself, oh I’m going to have to spend the day playing the video game?
Gemma: Yeah, I did actually force myself because I’m not really a gamer and I’m quite rubbish at them actually. And I didn’t know about it before, you know, I had to really go out and borrow my friend’s whatever it is, Xbox or whatever it’s on…Playstation I think it is. And that’s how bad I am, and I was terrible at it. I was so bad because when I play computer games when I was a kid like, it was on the old Nintendo and there was like 2 or 3 buttons. And now there’s like joysticks and oh God it was a disaster. But luckily for me, the female character in the game is completely different from my character in the film. So it wasn’t like I had to reach a certain level to work out my character, so that was good.
Obviously in the movie, you wear very period specific costumes, but were you sort of like let me see what I can take home from the set on this one?
Gemma: Oh God, I was desperate to take home loads of stuff because the costumes are so amazing. There was a certain pair of trousers that I loved, however they always say that they’re going to give you stuff and they never, ever do. Just in case, you know, just in case they need to re-shoot or just in case they want to do another one, or whatever you know? So the other day I was like Jerry remember when you said you’d give me those little shoes? And he was like, oh yeah. But no, they’re very reluctant to but hopefully I’ll end up with something at some point.
One of the films that you have coming up, I’m not sure if it’s been released in the U.K. yet, but I saw it at Toronto, was Alice Creed.
Gemma: Yeah. It’s out in the U.K. at the moment actually which means I’ve got 3 movies out at the same time, which is a bit nuts. Yeah, it’s done really well there as well. I think it’s just been very well received. I think it’s coming out in the States next month or maybe…it’s in August I think it’s coming out. I’m really, really proud of it. it’s kind of like…it’s so different than anything else I’ve been seen in so far and it’s very much up my streak and it’s quite a hard watch. It’s not easy to watch but for me it’s the kind of movie that I’d go to see, and yeah it was quite a shock actually. It was make for less than a million pounds which is nothing in the film industry but we didn’t know how successful it was going to be and we didn’t expect everyone to love it but it went to Toronto and had all these rave reviews and it was mad attention the attention it got.
Gemma: Yeah, yeah.
So what was that like? Obviously again, you have a very demanding performance in that movie. Were you a little scared to sign on or were you sort of like embracing the challenge?
Gemma: Yeah, I was scared, but that was a good thing. I think it’s important to challenge yourself. And you know I’d just come off something…I’d just come off Prince of Persia which is so, so different and I think I wanted to see if I could do something that raw and also I knew that not everybody would like it and that kind of excited me as well. I don’t like mediocrity and so it was scary but at the end of it, I felt like it was the most satisfying thing because, you know, it just turned out…I’m very proud of it, so.
Oh totally. So I guess going back to the beginning of what I was talking to you about, have you figured out what you’re going to do next or is your plan just let me take some time off…
Gemma: I don’t know. I’m taking a bit of time to sort of relax and get my head around everything and chill out. And then I actually don’t know, you know? I’m really in a really nice position at the moment where lots and lots and lots of things are coming through and they’re all different and I just need to work out what I actually want to do now. I think I need to be very selective and thoughtful about it and I’m not really up under any pressure either. I just want to kind of see what happens.
Your film Tamara Drewe just premiered at Cannes? So how much to you pay attention to like the online reviews? Are you sort of like after it premieres…
Gemma: I don’t read them. I don’t read anything. I’ve made a conscious decision not to read any reviews, so I know it premiered last night so that’s all I know.
Gemma: Well, that’s good. I’m glad.
(laughter) Well, could you talk a little bit about who you play in that film for the people…because it’s obviously not coming out anytime soon?
Gemma: Yeah, I play a journalist called Tamara Drewe who is not taken very seriously because she is very sort of beautiful and she comes back to her hometown having been an ugly duckling when she was a kid, she comes back and sort of mixes everybody up because they sort of…she gets everybody’s passions flowing. And it’s based on Far From the Madding Crowd, so it’s the same sort of premise. And it’s very, very British and very charming and witty and I’m very proud of it.
I know I have to wrap up with you soon, but I definitely have to ask, favorite Jerry Bruckheimer movie?
Gemma: I liked Black Hawk Down and Top Gun.
Ooh. Sounds good. (laughter) You can’t go wrong with the Tom Cruise Top Gun.
Gemma: Yeah. Oh it’s brilliant, brilliant.