Carey Mulligan Talks Sex & Suicide

Shame follows Brandon (Michael Fassbender), a New Yorker who refuses intimacy with women, while feeding his desires with a compulsive addiction to sex.  When his younger sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan), unexpectedly moves into his apartment, she stirs up memories of their shared painful past, and Brandon's life begins to spiral further out of control.


During this exclusive interview, actress Carey Mulligan talks about how she never knew what co-star Michael Fassbender was going to do during their scenes, how unflinching and uncompromising director Steve McQueen is, and how devastated she would have been if she hadn't gotten to play Sissy.



STUDIO: How did you come to be a part of Shame?  Did Steve McQueen approach you about the role, or was it something that you pursued?

Carey Mulligan: They sent the script to my agents, and I asked if I could meet him.  We met for breakfast and coffee, and I just said how much I wanted to do it.  He didn't ask me to audition, in the end, but I was one hundred percent ready to go through the whole process and do anything I could to get the job.  He gave me the job, a couple of hours later.  I couldn't believe he was going to give me the job because he really had no reason to.  I read it and I was like, "That's going to go to someone who's sassy – who's known for doing something similar – and who's sexy."  I was really surprised that he gave it to me.  I was like, "Shit, what am I gonna do?!"  I had no idea where to begin.  The whole thing was quite surprising.


STUDIO: This is a very bold and raw film.  What was your impression of the character when you first read the script?

CM: So much of it was just having conversations with Steve.  I did The Seagull – the Chekhov play – on Broadway a couple of years ago, and I became completely obsessed with the character, Nina, that I played in that.  She's an actress.  I couldn't find a play after that, that I wanted to do, because I couldn't think of doing anything else.  I had never found a role on camera that matched Nina.  There was nothing that was as well written or as well drawn-out.  They were all lacking something, in that respect, but I wanted something that matched Nina.


And then, when I read Shame, I thought, "This is a cousin to that character."  So, I just wanted to try.  I didn't want to do a costume drama.  It's a great thing to do, but I've done them, and I didn't want to do the same thing again.  At the time, I just felt very sure that I didn't want to be boxed in as an English actress.  I wanted to be an actress, rather than an English actress.  So, I was trying to find ways of not being pigeon-holed like that.  I didn't want to be tied down by my accent.  I wanted to play Americans.  I don't want to ever be doing the same thing twice, and I just didn't want to repeat myself.



Read the rest of STUDIO's exclusive interview with Carey Mulligan, star of Shame, in our January 2012 issue.  Out now!

"I was trying to find ways of not being pigeon-holed. I wanted to be an actress, rather than an English actress."
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