‘Relic’ Star Emily Mortimer Explains How She Took Control of Her Career

     July 17, 2020

Between her performance in Relic and everything she’s accomplished over the course of her career, it’s tough to imagine Emily Mortimer having been an extremely shy kid who feared being called on in class. Over the years, Mortimer has worked with some of the best of the best in the business like Martin Scorsese and Wes Craven, she wrote and starred in her own show with good friend Dolly Wells, and now she’s part of the powerhouse ensemble in the phenomenal IFC Midnight release, Relic.

While Mortimer’s shyness did dissipate, that didn’t mean it was smooth sailing from the moment she scored an agent. She was getting work and making money, but as she described, it wasn’t making her particularly happy and she didn’t feel particularly proud of it. But then in came her husband, Alessandro Nivola, and the game-changing pep talk that put her career on a track she could be proud of:


Image via Sundance

“He was the first person who said to me, ‘You better shit or get off the pot with this thing, because you can’t really be halfhearted. You can’t be sort of thinking, oh, I’ll just do this for a little while about acting because it’s a passion, and it has to be because it’s really hard. It’s a really hard life. So, I don’t understand what you’re sort of vibe is. You keep saying you’re embarrassed about doing all these stupid jobs, and you’ve got to do something more important with your life or whatever, but you’re still doing it! So it’s like, either decide you’re gonna do it and you’re gonna commit and you’re gonna do things you’re interested in and passionate about, or don’t and go off and do whatever it is that you feel like you want to do.’ And it was kind of amazing this pep talk that happened quite early on in our relationship before we were married. And I thought to myself, ‘He’s right.’”

After that, Mortimer had enough of just waiting for something better to come along. It was time to take herself more seriously in this field:

“So I thought, ‘I’ll see what happens if I do that for a year, and then I’ll see how I feel.’ So I decided I was just gonna really take it and myself seriously and the first job I got after that decision was made was a film called Lovely and Amazing, which is still one of the things that I’m sort of proudest of actually, and I feel was a real milestone for me. I count that movie as the kind of beginning of my career in a way – of the career that I feel like I was kind of in charge of.”

Mortimer’s story of finding that confidence is just one of many major stepping stones that lead her to Relic. You can hear loads more in the video version of Collider Ladies Night at the top of this article or, if you’d prefer, we’ve also got the podcast version for you below. Enjoy and be sure to check out Relic which is available on VOD now!

Emily Mortimer:

  • 01:24 – Mortimer looks back on being a shy child; how a debate class helped her break through that shyness.
  • 05:32 – Mortimer looks back on a play she did with Tom Hooper when there happened to be an agent in the audience.
  • 07:45 – Mortimer talks about her husband, Alessandro Nivola, and when he gave her a career pep talk when she needed it most.
  • 10:23 – Finding the balance between taking what you can get when you’re first starting out, and picking the opportunities that really speak to you.
  • 13:17 – That time she got a ridiculous note while filming a scene for The Ghost and the Darkness, and what she learned from the experience.


    Image via Paramount

  • 16:08 – I go on a Jurassic Park III tangent. Click here to read my thoughts on Billy’s value in the franchise.
  • 17:18 – Mortimer looks back on joining the Scream franchise and how important her collaboration with Wes Craven became.
  • 21:00 – Mortimer revisits creating Doll & Em with Dolly Wells; will we see the show on a streaming service sometime soon? 
  • 26:30 – Mortimer talks about working with Martin Scorsese on Shutter Island and Hugo.
  • 31:10 – What it was about Relic director Natalie Erika James that made Mortimer convinced she was the real deal.
  • 32:40 – Mortimer reveals bits of character’s backstory that didn’t make it into the final cut of the film.
  • 36:00 – Relic spoiler discussion begins!

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