From Spanish director Alice Waddington, the sci-fi/fantasy thriller Paradise Hills is about what happens when a young woman named Uma (Emma Roberts) finds herself at a high-end facility, run by the mysterious Duchess (Milla Jovovich), where families send their daughters to be reformed into the perfect versions of themselves. Through treatments that include etiquette classes, beauty regimens and restricted diets, the young women are given two month to resolve all physical and emotional shortcomings before returning home, but nothing in Paradise Hills is what it seems and there is a much more sinister motive to it all.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, Mexican actress Eiza González talked about why she was attracted to this project, what she enjoyed about embodying a popstar, how excited she was to work with this cast, the dynamic between Amarna and Uma, and the incredible look and wardrobe for the film. She also talked about what made her want to be a part of the upcoming comic book turned action flick Bloodshot, opposite Vin Diesel, and why that character is so important to her, as well as her more comedic turn in the upcoming Godzilla vs. Kong, and the type of characters she’d love to get to play, in the future.
Collider: This film is so interesting. It has so many different themes that it explores, and it’s so incredible to look at, visually and with all of the costumes.
EIZA GONZALEZ: I think this movie is amazing for that reason, too. When I got to the pitch and I saw the visuals and everything, I had the same feeling as you.
It’s such a beautiful world to look at, but it also has this dark, gothic tone to it. What did you most respond to you, in reading the script, but then how did also having a look book from the director help you to see the visual language and style of it?
GONZALEZ: Well, first of all, I thought this movie represented a challenge for everyone that was going to get involved in it because it’s an independent, low-budget film. So, the fact that I’m saying that and the movie looks the way it does says a lot about the crew and the director and everyone behind it, from wardrobe to set design. I was drawn to the project for multiple reasons. One was that I was really interested in working with a female director (Alice Waddington), and specifically someone who speaks the same language as me. For me, it’s very important to help launch women into this industry. I think we have a massive lack of female directors, let alone Latinas. She’s not Latin, per se, but Spanish, and there’s a lack of Spanish-speaking women who are directors. So, I thought that her intention was amazing and it was very ambitious. I loved that she was not scared of tackling those ideas.
Second of all, I loved the story. This sci-fi, dystopian Alice in Wonderland type of film is something that I think is very appealing to audiences. I like it. I personally am a big sci-fi fan, so I only like to be a part of that. Third of all, I also loved that it was an all-female cast. And then, I loved that it tackled very serious conversations that people don’t talk about, like body shaming, homosexuality, finding yourself as a young woman, being oppressed by society, and anxiety. It was all of these things that I feel like I would have liked to have in a film when I was a younger girl, and I wanted to make it. I did believe that this movie, even though it’s an indie film, could become a cult film for young women, in the long run, and that was very exciting.
And then lastly, but not least, it was the cast. I was very excited to work with and was a big fan of Danielle [Macdonald]. I just seen her in Patti Cake$. And I had seen Nora [Lum, aka Awkwafina] doing her stuff, as a musician, and I’d seen Crazy Rich Asians. I was already a fan of Milla [Jovovich], Emma [Roberts] and Jeremy [Irvine]. So, the cast was something that I really wanted to work with and, sure enough, we all wanted it to take a risk and do different stuff. It’s exciting to work with women that are in a place where they could be doing anything else, and they decided to go and do an independent film in Barcelona.
I love that a few of you end up singing in the film. Were you always going to sing in it, or was that something that developed, along the way?
GONZALEZ: Well, my character, Amarna, is a pop singer, and that was something that I really gravitated towards because I reminded me of my childhood, a little bit. I grew up in Mexico City being a pop star, and I had a very troublesome time, going from a child star to an adult actress. The media and the scrutiny and being in the public eye was so brutal and something that felt very close to home, and I wanted to bring that to the screen. You see with all of these musicians that it’s really hard when they have all of these expectations put on them. And so, I love that they had all of these things intertwined. A lot of people are not aware that I’m an actual singer. I started at Strasberg and I went to musical theater classes. So, it was good for me to rekindle my love for music ‘cause I stopped singing for many, many years. And I loved the story between Emma’s and my character. I don’t want to spoil it, but it has a very beautiful, deep meaning, and the music was all intertwined. Everything in the movie is a character, between the lines, the music, the wardrobe, the place, and the location. That’s what I found amazing about this film. Milla’s wardrobe is unbelievable.
GONZALEZ: Yes, I did. Bloodshot was a big set. It wasn’t Marvel and it wasn’t DC, but to be honest, I’ve had such trouble to be able to really, truly create a character for Latina audiences to have a superhero. We’ve never had one. There’s been no Latina, until now with Salma [Hayek] (in Eternals). There’s never been a full-blown immigrant Mexican woman on screen as a superhero, and that’s something that has really been hard for me and I’ve struggled with, throughout the years. Not lot of times, do people want to take the risk. There are so many things where people want to do it, but then they don’t do it. It’s hard.
So, when Bloodshot came around, I don’t want to spoil it and I won’t spoil anything, but it was very exciting to be the first Mexican woman to be a superhero, but I also loved the story. It’s a modern twist on superheroes. It’s not typical. There’s no way to compete with Marvel and DC. You have to bring your own spin to it, and that’s what Bloodshot is. It’s more grounded, and it wants to resonate with real people. We talk about soldiers, which is something that America and the world really connects with. They’re people that have left their lives behind for other people, and what happens afterwards and what’s the aftermath of that. That’s where Bloodshot begins, and it’s about trying to humanize him, as much as possible. And it was just a beautiful character. You would think it’s just very action heavy, but weirdly she is not. She’s a big departure. She’s very emotionally grounded, and she’s the heart of the film. I’m excited for people to see it. We’ve had really good responses. I’m nervous because it’s a risk, but I’m excited. The pitch from our director, Dave Wilson, was incredibly smart and different.
Was that also the cast with Godzilla vs. Kong?
GONZALEZ: Yes, it was the same with Godzilla vs. Kong. It’s not what you would expect me to do. It’s actually slightly comedic, which I’m excited about. It’s very different. She’s a very smart woman behind a company, and you’ll get to meet her throughout the movie. My most important thing is that I’m not a genre actress. You can do everything, it’s just a matter that the character is different to any other character that I’ve done. It’s a departure from Fast and Furious. It’s a departure from Baby Driver. Every character has its own life, and they’re very, very different.
Is there a type of character, either from real life or, or from some sort of source material, that you’d love the opportunity to play and you’re hoping to get the chance to do?
GONZALEZ: There are many, many characters. There are real life people that have inspired me, throughout the years, that I’d love to bring to life from history. There are various women in Mexico that have changed history for us, that I’d love to bring to life, and I’m in the process of doing that. When it comes to superheroes, and all of that stuff, I don’t know. They’re all different and fun. It’s hard to say. I like everything. I like horror and sci-fi. When I say that my taste is so eclectic, it runs the gamut. As much as I can sit down and watch something like Zilla, the original Godzilla from Japan, I also love weird indie films. I have such diverse taste that it would be really hard to choose just one, but hopefully someone in the industry will help chose that for me and find a way to diversify. Most importantly, I’d love to diversify. I’d love to do more musical stuff, and I’d love to do a rom-com, as well. I think that people see me as a tough chick because of the things that I’ve done prior, but I’d love to show a different side of myself and show people that I’m also a girl’s girl, and I have a very dark sense of humor and can be quite funny sometimes, too. So, I’d like to diversify a little bit more.
Paradise Hills is now playing in theaters, and is available through on-demand and digital on November 1st.