In The Brass Teapot, John (Michael Angarano) and Alice (Juno Temple) are a small town couple in their ‘20s, who are very much in love, but also very broke. Struggling to make ends meet while their friends enjoy the good life, a mysterious brass teapot in a roadside antique shop is seemingly the answer to all of their problems, when it starts spitting money out of its spout. But, as its demands for appeasement become darker and darker, its existence is a reminder that you should always be careful what you wish for.
At the film’s press day, actress Juno Temple spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about making a grown-up fairytale, finding the balance between fantasy and realism, how important it is to just go there for emotional scenes, how difficult it was to get through the S&M scene without laughing, and how she likes to be challenged by the characters that she plays. She also talked about being a part of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, how much fun it was to work with Ray Liotta for the 17 hours that she worked on the film, and how much more aware you are of your own physicality in front of a green screen. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
JUNO TEMPLE: Yeah, I definitely did! I didn’t say anything until I met with Ramaa [Mosley]. And she just had this crystal clear vision for it and this passion for it that was nuts. It was just so great. I loved the idea of it being this grown-up fairytale. I liked the idea of the magic creeping into this little tiny town and finding this couple and the mass destruction it caused, and the that love overruns it. It’s telling you this moral that money doesn’t make you happy. Look at what is right in front of you. I just was turned on by all of that.
Was it important to you that this film really find a balance between the fantasy and the realism?
TEMPLE: Yeah! Obviously, the teapot is the moral for, “These are our issues in our relationship. This is what we aren’t communicating. This is where we’re being different. We need to find common ground and just communicate.” That was also what I thought was so believable, in the script. Alice reacts one way to the teapot, and John reacts another way. They really, really react different. And then, John really gives it a go for Alice, but he just can’t do it. And then, when it gets to the emotional abuse and that causing money to come out of the teapot, it just suddenly takes the whole thing to a whole new level. For me, that teapot becomes a crazy addiction for Alice. She’s stuck. She’s hooked and she can’t get out of it. It’s almost like she needs to be sent to teapot rehab. Thank god, John sticks around and doesn’t bail on her.
Ultimately, it is a fairytale. Love wins out, in the end, but in a realistic way that’s like, “Wake up, Alice! Look at what’s right in front of you!” And I really liked that because I think she really needed to see that. In the beginning, she’s being selfish. Her ego is hurt that she’s not in the place that she wants to be because she doesn’t own the biggest house on the block. She’s being lazy. The joy of making money in your life comes from when you make it, and then you get to go out and buy someone lunch and be like, “Yeah, I got paid!” That’s the whole process of growing up. Sometimes you blow it and you look at your bank account and you’re like, “Oh, my god, I spent that much money this month? I’m an idiot!” That’s the whole process of becoming an adult, and she’s just not cool with that. She wants to go from zero to 100, in minutes. So, when she gets given that opportunity, of course this is going to happen. But, what I like is that I don’t think you’re aware of how quickly it’s going to spiral into this really seedy addiction and obsession.
TEMPLE: Completely! I don’t know what would have happened.
As an actor, was it fun to do this physically and emotionally abusive stuff, or did you dread those days?
TEMPLE: No, I liked them. As an actress, I like to go home, at the end of the day, and feel like I’ve been wrung dry, and this movie definitely had days with that. I think it’s important, when you’re creating a character, to find those moments. The physicality stuff is funny because I’m actually awful at it. I’m amazed that I managed to do it, whereas Michael [Angarano] is so good at it. He’s so good at pretending to take a punch, whereas I was being really pathetic and going, “Ow! No, I can’t do that!” But I ended up doing it, which is great. With the emotional stuff, it’s important to go for it and allow yourself to go to a place where you’re finding something that’s hiding your feelings, in that moment, or that will hurt your feelings, in that moment. Yeah, those days are definitely tough and full-on, but at the end of them, it’s super rewarding.
Was it difficult to get through the S&M scene without laughing?
TEMPLE: Yeah, dude, we had such a laugh with that. That was hysterical! We had a lot of fun. Also, I actually hit him quite hard, at one point. There were some genuine squeals, which was really funny. Everyone was dying! And those are the scenes that are fun because you just get to go for it and I like that.
You’ve done roles that are just so different, not just from each other, but from other female roles, in general. Is it exciting to be the go-to girl for fearless roles that a lot of other people are afraid to do?
TEMPLE: Woah! That’s a big title! Thank you, by the way, ‘cause that’s a huge compliment. I’m not sure I’d give myself that title. I think I’ve been so lucky with people giving me opportunities to play these diverse, brilliant characters. It’s like To Kill A Mockingbird. You never know someone until you walk around on his front porch. Getting to step into the shoes of all these characters is such a learning experience. Sometimes it leaves you completely tormented, and sometimes it’s like, “Wow, that was quite cathartic,” and then you just let that person go. I like to be challenged and I think there’s something to be said about these girls. I feel like I play a lot of girls that start off as caterpillars and become butterflies. I think that’s such a great thing to show because I think, as a girl that’s becoming a woman who’s learning to be a real grown up, I become a butterfly, every other day, and then sometimes I crawl back into my chrysalis and I’m like, “No, I’m not ready!” So, I think it’s really fun to open your eyes to experiences that people are writing about, and getting to live through them is just cool, man. It’s an honor.
What was it like to get to be a part of the Sin City sequel?
TEMPLE: That was fun! I was shocked by that. And working with someone like Robert Rodriguez, he’s such a liberated director. He’s in this room, which is all green screen, and it’s just extraordinary being in there because his whole world is coming to life. And I got to do all my stuff with Ray Liotta, who is a guy that I’ve been watching since I was 14, in some of the best movies, ever. He was just so brilliant. I only got to shoot that for like 17 hours, but I just had a ball.
Who are you playing in the film?
TEMPLE: I’m playing one of the girls from Sin City.
TEMPLE: Oh, yeah! I auditioned for it three months before I found out, so when I got the call, my jaw dropped. I was at the pub with my boyfriend and his friends, and literally got the phone call, stepped outside and was like, “Woah!” And I had to get on a plane the next day. It was crazy! That’s what’s so amazing about this whole world. You are an artist and you believe what you believe, and then you meet all these other people that are artists and your worlds clash together and it becomes this crazy painting. It’s so great! I love this business. Sometimes it’s bloody lonely and sometimes it’s really grueling, and you just want to be able to sleep, but you have to get up at 5 am the next day, but I’ve never felt more rewarded by anything, other than family stuff, like being proud of my parents and my brothers, who are just the most extraordinary people on the planet. But, there are so many things about this industry that I really genuinely love.
TEMPLE: That’s been a new process for me. Up until last year, I hadn’t done green screen ever in my life, really, or if I had, I wasn’t aware of it. In The Three Musketeers, I was over here and they had a piece of green screen somewhere over there for a ship to be arriving, but I had to be looking out at a completely different spot. And I did motion capture last year. With really intense green screen, where you’re just acting in front of it, I’d never done anything like that before. It’s invigorating, but you’re definitely aware of things. You’re like, “Did that work? I don’t know. Did my arm look weird?” You’re more aware of your physicality. When you’re in a room that’s all one color, you stick out like a sore thumb. But, that’s fun, man! It’s so liberating to just lose yourself.
The Brass Teapot is now playing in limited release.