REBECCA HALL X THE LATERALS
Many of the films Rebecca Hall is famous for involves fiercely resolute women: Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The Prestige, Christine, and The Town. It is obvious she is beautiful. But what you might miss is her steely opulence, which has nothing to do with good looks. It’s about captivating you, which she brilliantly uses as theatrical leverage. However, what we find most remarkable is her skill at creating a mixture of imperfections, masterfully blending her role and herself. Characters are simply strangers she aims to figure out. Rebecca delves in and finds their light, their madness, what keeps them charged—and then composes a finite presentation that propels itself off screen. Her goal isn’t to win your affections, she wants you to question them.
Although Rebecca Hall has deep familial roots in the arts, it never defined her. Instead, it instilled a grounded sense of independence. Her unusual upbringing—a renowned English director for a father, an American opera singer for a mother, life in the countryside of Sussex, and a private girl’s school—all provided her insight. Perhaps that is why she seamlessly connects with her roles, and with you. Rebecca was only 10 years old when she made her professional debut on a UK television show. Some of her more notable work thereafter was in the theatre, where her performances earned her a number of accomplishments including the Ian Charleson Award and a role on Broadway. Her dossier spans a variety of genres that’s as complex as her skillset. With plenty more scripts on the horizon, we have much more to look for in Rebecca Hall—Holmes and Watson with Will Ferrell and A Rainy Day In New York with Jude Law—just to name a few. Regardless of what role she’s in, you won’t want to look away.
You attended a private boarding school where you eventually became the head girl. This idea is pretty unfamiliar to us Americans. Give us some insight into this.
I suppose it’s equivalent to something like class president? I think of Reese Witherspoon in ELECTION—but make it English and weirder and without the bit where you campaign for it.
In retrospect, I think they voted me in, as a bit of a joke. I was going through a particularly outspoken political moment of adolescence. Tony Blair was running for the Labour Party and it was back when everyone thought a Labour government could make a difference to the country. Conservative schools like the one I was attending, were stuck very much on the right of the political spectrum. I was the voice going around telling everyone that “No, a Labour government would not mean that we’d all be poor and the school would be burnt to the ground.” I promised students I’d be a head girl that would represent them and not the teachers. It turned out that I was all talk and no action. I was a uselessly disorganized and chaotic head girl who annoyed the teachers so much that they effectively dismantled the students right to vote the following year. I knew from that moment, I was not a natural politician.
If you could go back in time and give the 11-year-old version of yourself some words of encouragement, what would it be?
Don’t worry so much. It will all essentially work out.
Most of us recognize you from your breakout role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Almost a decade later, your dossier of work continues to gather subtle (or not so subtle) characters with profound impact. What keeps you motivated?
Honestly—the love of it. I love what I do. I would lose my mind if I didn’t have some sort of a creative output. More than one in fact. But acting is a big one—the biggest for me. Humans are enduringly fascinating.
Although your career spans across the spectrum, is there a role you are still dying to try out?
I think the moment someone offers me something I haven’t done yet that I want to do, is the moment I can answer that question.
Did you always want to be an actor? What could you see yourself doing if you were not?
Yes, I always did. But I also always wanted to be a painter, a writer, a musician and a film director. I'm not writing anything off yet!
In your new film Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, you tell a completely different comic book story. Tell us more about this project.
It’s inspired by the real events and the three people, a psychologist, his wife (who probably invented at least half of what he is credited for) and their research assistant—who influenced and created Wonder Woman. Oh, and also invented the lie detector. Oh, and also had an epic love affair that spanned several decades and bore a handful of children. It’s about a lot of things but principally it’s a love story about a group of fascinating and unconventional people.
This film is just as much about ideas and the human condition as it is about the creation of Wonder Woman. How did you bring such complexity to your character?
It was there on the page. I fell in love with “Elizabeth Marston” the moment I read the script. She has the sort of personality you revere and want to have a drink with all at the same time. She’s wickedly funny, wild, extroverted and brazen whilst also being repressed and frightened. She’s locked off and guarded whilst also being full of heart and vulnerability. In other words, she was a real person on the page… my job was principally not messing that up.
If you possessed a real-life superpower, what would it be?
To have the time to commit to at least three different career paths seriously and still be a human who has a life.
You recently starred alongside Will Ferrell, Kelly Macdonald and John C. Reilly as Dr. Grace Heart in the upcoming film Holmes and Watson. Tell us more about it.
I haven’t seen it yet. But if it’s nearly as funny to watch as it was to make, you will be in for a treat.
It must have been so much fun working with this cast and crew. Share one of your favorite behind-the-scenes moments.
Too many…! I remember there was quite a lot of singing...
You’ve had an exceptionally dynamic career with such a great range. What attracts you to these characters?
We always mention the word ‘stories’—yes, I like telling stories, but we tell them so that we can better understand life. Humans are never going to stop doing that. I think that we all want to understand one another. I’m drawn to characters I want to understand better, because I believe it will help me navigate life better.
We are fascinated with your ability to push boundaries and tell stories that make us look at the world with new eyes. In your opinion, is all fair in love in war?
As long as there is respect for people and honesty, then yes—I think it probably is. In keeping with the Wonder Woman theme, I’m going to say as a general rule: more love, not war.