Dirty Girl tells the story of Danielle (Juno Temple), a misfit in 1987 who becomes known as the “dirty girl” of Normal High School in Norman, Oklahoma, for her penchant to bed any boy that strikes her fancy. When her misbehavior gets her sent to a remedial class, she is paired up on a parenting project with Clarke (Jeremy Dozier), a closeted teen that she strikes up an unlikely friendship with. While Danielle brings Clarke out of his shell, Clarke is the first person who actually wants to listen to what Danielle has to say, showing her that she does have value.
At the film’s press day, British actress Juno Temple spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about how she cried when she found out she got the role of Danielle, how the wardrobe and hair really helped her find the character, that she instantly knew she would be great friends with co-star Jeremy Dozier, and how special the experience of working with first-time feature director Abe Sylvia was. She also talked about her role as the young Queen of France in The Three Musketeers, how nervous she is to see herself in 3D, and how all the speculation about her role in The Dark Knight Rises doesn’t phase her at all. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
JUNO TEMPLE: It fell into my lap. My agent sent it to me and I got to go an audition for (writer/director) Abe [Sylvia]. It’s quite a funny story, actually. I went in and I was wearing ripped denim hot pants and a biker jacket and biker boots. I had a nose piercing and dreaded hair and a bunch of jewels on. After I went in, I got a phone call from my agent saying, “They loved your audition, but you need to go back in without the nose piercing and with your hair brushed.” So, I went back in, and then I got asked to do a chemistry read with Jeremy [Dozier]. The minute I met Jeremy, I knew we were going to be friends. We got on so well, instantly, and he’s now one of my best friends in the world. He actually had to drive me home, after the audition, because I don’t have a driver’s license. I don’t drive. Then, I got a phone call, about two weeks later, saying, “I want you to play Danielle in Dirty Girl.” I cried. And then, I went and did the movie.
Was it easy to find this character?
TEMPLE: I spent a lot of time talking with Abe about her. We have some similarities, in the fact that I was definitely pretty good at just not caring what people said about me in high school. I was like, “You can say whatever you want. Sticks and stones, man.” And definitely, when I was younger, I slightly had that attitude of, “I’m ready to take over the world. I’m so independent. I’m savvy.” And, I’m not. I still need my mom, to this day. My mom is one of my best friends and I speak to her four times a day, normally. So, she was and she wasn’t easy to find. I really liked what she was trying to say and the idea of, “Be who you want to be, wear what you want to wear, say what you want to say.” But, she has a lot of learning to do. Sometimes she opens her mouth and offends people, and then sometimes she gets it really right. She’s very misunderstood and she’s very frustrated, especially at the beginning.
And then, she meets Clarke (Jeremy Dozier) and he actually wants to listen to what she has to say. She doesn’t have to shout it. She just says it and he listens and he cares. He wants to be a part of her life. He thinks that she’s so special, and she’s so blown away by that. I think he really teaches her to appreciate her family. It’s like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Both of them really blossom into these extraordinary characters, by the end. They really change, and they really help each other go through that change. Friendship, for me, is something that’s very important, so that was a big reason to take this movie, too. This movie is so powerful about friendship and family. I don’t know what I’d do, if I didn’t have my family. They’re my saving grace. Hotel rooms become your worst enemy, but you can always Skype with your mom or your dad. I have two extraordinary younger brothers that I miss so dearly. One of them just turned 18.
Did the wardrobe for Danielle really help in figuring out who this girl was?
TEMPLE: Are you kidding?! Oh, my god, it was amazing! You just hold yourself differently, when you’re in clothes like that. It was something that was a really cool choice that Abe went with. It’s an ‘80s world – not in-your-face ‘80s, but definitely an ‘80s world – and Danielle seems to be very ‘70s. That immediately takes her out of that world because she’s wearing all her mom’s hand-me-downs. She looks like a Cherie Currie (from The Runaways) character. I think that was really great. I would immediately feel like an outsider. I would be on set and all these extras would be wearing floor-length denim skirts with polo necks, and I’d bend over and you could see my booty. You definitely feel different. It was cool because it was fun to try on the clothes and figure them out, and make sure the clothes weren’t wearing me. I had to wear the clothes. That made a huge difference. And the make-up, and my hair being dead-straight with Farrah Fawcett bangs, was insanely cool. The music really helped, too. Abe gave us the soundtrack before we started filming, when we were doing rehearsals, so we really knew the rhythm of the movie. That was a great thing. And, walking into my character’s bedroom made such a huge difference.
TEMPLE: I went to an English boarding school, which was very, very different. We had our equivalent. Some people might actually include me in that category, for sure, or maybe not. People talk. So, my education was very different. That was what was so appealing about this project for me. It was a world apart from me. It couldn’t be more different from the high school experience I had, so it was a big challenge. And, it was the first time I’d ever been in an American high school, when I shot this movie.
What did you do to get the American accent down?
TEMPLE: I got to work with a dialect coach. It was actually very easy because the English language and the Southern accent sits in the same area of the voice. It all sits way in the back, whereas standard American is all in the front of your mouth. I find that way more challenging because my mouth wants to do something completely different. My only influence with standard American is the movie Clueless, so I sound a little Valley girl. But, I’ve always been fascinated with the South. If I had my way, I would totally live in New Orleans. It’s so fun when you change yourself that much. I love a Southern accent. I think it’s dead sexy.
How was it to work with Milla Jovovich and go on that journey between your characters?
TEMPLE: Milla is someone I love, very dearly. We became very close, making the movie. She’s someone I really trust, and I had a great time working with her because she’s so dynamic, she’s so brilliant at what she does, she so brought it, she had so much fun playing this role, and we had a lot of fun filming it together. And then, the scene at the end where I really need her, she just gave me the best hug in the world. Little things like that make such a difference. We had fun times with these little nuances of her wearing the same make-up as me, which would annoy a 16-year-old daughter. And then, I had the joy of working with her again on The Three Musketeers, and I’d work with her again tomorrow. I really think she’s a special woman.
TEMPLE: He’s one of the most passionate men that I’ve ever met in my life. He’s so passionate about everything. It’s so special. Even when I go out to dinner with him, he’s passionate about what we order. He’s become like family, to me. He’s become like a big brother, to me. This was his baby and he invited me to be a part of it. It’s the coolest thing, ever. And, it’s such an incredible character that he wrote. His writing is so brilliant. On set, it was this unbelievable atmosphere. Everyone was so happy to be there. No one ever gave the inclination that they were stressed. It was a very nurturing set. Abe just always seemed excited. I trust him with my life, and I know he trusts me back, and that was a really extraordinary experience because then you just go for it. You’re fearless. You just dive into it, and you know that your director is going to protect you or set you free, and do whatever needs to happen in that scene.
Do you enjoy getting to do these period pieces, and develop a look and wardrobe for your character? Didn’t you also have some great costumes in The Three Musketeers?
TEMPLE: Oh, my god, they were a nightmare to wear, though. I don’t recommend it. But, they were amazing costumes. I love it! You become a different person. It’s crazy! I loved the costumes for Dirty Girl. The only thing that was a bit of a pain in the ass was the constant camel toes because of those booty-hugging shorts. I was like, “Oh, man!” They were not comfortable to sit in or stand, or do anything really, like eat or breathe, but they made her so sassy. I loved that her costumes were so different from everybody else in the movie. Milla had similar stuff going on, but you definitely got the sense that they were her hand-me-downs, and I loved that. Costumes, wigs and make-up are so important to a character. When you finally get it right and you walk on set the first day and you’re in it, you don’t feel like you, and it’s the coolest thing. It’s a childhood fantasy of mine. It’s great to be a chameleon and make yourself look as different as possible, in everything you do. It helps an audience, it helps a director, it helps you, it helps everyone. Everyone is excited when they see that character come to life.
TEMPLE: She’s the young Queen of France. She’s pretty key. I don’t want to give away the storyline, but she’s pretty important.
Is it weird for you, as an actress, to not only have to see yourself on the big screen, but to also be in 3D?
TEMPLE: I’m a little nervous to see myself in 3D. Yeah, for sure. I don’t know how that’s going to go down!
What’s it like for you to have all this attention on you now? From the moment it was announced that you had a role in The Dark Knight Rises, everyone has been speculating about what role you would be playing. Is all of that easy for you to tune out?
TEMPLE: Absolutely! I don’t give a flying shit about it! People can talk. I love for people to watch movies that I’m a part of, but people can predict whatever they want. I want to be a very private person. If my life changes, I’m going to definitely stay very private. That’s something that’s really important to me because people don’t know me. People aren’t going to know me, unless they’re my friends. But, guess what? They can see me playing an array of different characters.
I think that if you have too much of your bullshit being projected out into the world, and people know who you’re dating or when you got pregnant or what party you’re at, they don’t look at you like an actor anymore. I want to be Juno, and I want to be a really great actress. Not everybody needs to know Juno. With my favorite actresses, like Kate Winslet or Michelle Williams, you don’t know anything about their private life, really. Every time I see them in a movie, I am mesmerized and I forget it’s them. And then, I finish the movie and I’m like, “Of course, it’s them! They’re the best, ever!” I love that. I really want to have a career like that.