Eva Mendes was looking gorgeous in a polka dotted dress and platform pumps at the press day for The Place Beyond The Pines, co-starring real life love interest Ryan Gosling (headed to theaters nationwide this Friday). Mendes says that like many other actors, she finds on-screen bedroom scenes to be awkward and that she likes to “keep it classy” in this area of thespianism. She wouldn't comment if it was harder or easier to do love scenes with her real life BF or not!
Eva’s The Place Beyond The Pines character is Romina, a small town New York state waitress who has a fling with a heavily tattooed carnival motorcyclist named Luke (played by Ryan Gosling) that results in a child—and Luke does not know about it until he shows up on her doorstep one year later when the carnival is back in town. Once he sees his son, he wants nothing more in the world that to quit his rambling lifestyle and set roots, which includes Romina—who has moved onto a more stable partner. This is a complete high-action film that shows the repercussions of one man’s poor decision to rob banks to support his child on many people besides his own family—and that includes the cop (played by Bradley Cooper) who takes him down. Eva told us about her forthcoming projects as well including the totally improved Clear History with Larry David and told us she has no plans to do the next Fast And Furious Film. She also talked about the great role her female family members and friends played in gearing her up for her The Place Beyond The Pines role.
Q: I thought it was a wonderful, dramatic and intense role but you are the only person who seems to age when they go to fifteen years later—everyone else looks the same. Was this something you said to Derek (Cianfrance, the director)…that this is the way you wanted it to be?
EM: Because of the tragedy she suffered I wanted to make sure that you could see it—that you could see it in her face and body. And I did certain little tricks that I want to keep secret to make sure I looked haggard and just kind of like time has its way with me. I did—I talked to Derek a bit. I did all the obvious—like crying a bit. One of the little tricks I did was to shave down my eyebrows to look very, very thin. I do not really recommend it for an everyday look (laughs) but when you want to change your face a bit and look a little insane, it actually works. So, I wanted it to be stemming from an emotional place rather than going into prosthetics or aging too much because the truth is, at the start of the film, she is in her mid to late 20s—it’s a little ambiguous—then you are going into her early 40s and there is a difference there but it is not as drastic. We were like, “We don’t want the attention (in the film) to go into, ‘Oh my god, is that her?’”
Q: But emotionally we see her change—I saw her emotional change.
EM: Great, that is what I was concentrating on.
Q: So how did you make that emotional change? What happened? How did you get yourself from there to there?
EM: Well, it’s the same thing that I do on every film whether it’s a big studio film or a comic book film or a film like this: I work very closely with my acting coach, Ivana Chubbuck. I have worked with her since Training Day. We get together on a rainy day and break down the character. For me, it’s the process that I love. I love to work on a character and break down all that emotional stuff. And thankfully, Derek Cianfrance, is my dream director. I love how this man works. I can’t get enough of it as far as the way he approaches things—and I knew from the audition that we were onto something special because I came to see him for this role and said to him (I’m from Los Angeles and he’s from New York), “I can go into that room and read this material for you but I really don’t think that’s what you’re looking for. I think we should get into a car and I will take you for a drive around the neighborhoods I grew up in in Los Angeles and you can see how me and this character are really alike—and I can talk to you about my experiences growing up.” And he was totally into it, and we took this beautiful couple of hours in the car and I talked to him about my upbringing and I showed him where I was from and I drew the parallels between the characters. It was so great. So, the fact that he was so into that non-conventional approach to auditioning, I was like, “Oh gosh, this is going to be fun. I like this.”
EM: No. I did Holy Motors just a month after I wrapped Pines so maybe there was a little residual (effect) that went over.
Q: Why does your character continue to see this one night stand it sounds like, this fling (in Pines)?
EM: That was my question I asked myself before I started this film in Schenectady. I have so many women in my like—my family, my friends, my sisters and my mother—that before I started on the character, I wanted to have a women’s day at home. I brought all these women—they were all mothers—and we all sat around and talked and ate. We all had fun but I gave them a subject matter (to ponder). I gave them a question. I said, “OK, so here is a situation—you have a child with a man you don’t know. That man is out of the picture. Then you meet a great man who wants to provide for this child as if it were his own. Then the biological father comes back into the picture. He wants to be involved in your life but you have this great man who wants to provide because the biological father is unfit. What do you do?” And the thing is that I thought you go with the man who is fit to provide for the child. And all these women were like, “Nooooooo!” Everything in your body and your being has a primordial pull to the biological father no matter how wrong or unfit he may be and you try everything to make that work. Not to say it is going to work but you do try to make that work somehow. And I was like, “Ah! Wow! This is so interesting.” I got so much insight from my friends and family and women who were in similar situations. It was amazing; it was so helpful for me. So I figured that when she kept seeing him—when Romina kept seeing Luke—she was flawed and she wanted to keep the man who was stable but she was like “Ah, let me see, let me test him out first (when it comes to Luke).” Before she introduces the baby to him, she tests him out a little bit—she’s testing the waters a bit and she’s scared and trepidacious but there’s an “oh my God, can this work” kind of feeling, and obviously, you have to play a little bit and can’t ignore the fact that Luke is incredibly exciting. He’s a motorcycle stunt driver in a traveling carnival that comes into this sleepy little town. It is the early 90s and there is no Facebook—nobody knows where anybody’s at. (Laughs.) He’s disappeared, he’s come back in and she’s still like a young women who’s caught up in this “whoa” larger than life character who’s electric. He’s filled with electricity and that is something that is (appealing).
Q: Can you feel for her and that feeling? We have all been there in bad relationships.
EM: Speak for yourself. (Laughs.) Not really because I grew up in the city and everything was so exciting. My mom worked at Hollywood Chinese Theater. She worked at the box office and souvenir shop but I don’t know. I was always like (used to it). I think maybe I would be (excited) if I grew up in a sleepy town.
Q: How did you feel about the costumes? I thought they worked very well visually—one looked like a T-shirt that was cut into two pieces for the men in your life. And those necklaces that seemed to choke you.
Q: The director didn't make you wear them? You brought them yourself?
EM: Yeah, first of all—the director doesn't make me do anything. (Laughs.) I learned that early on. You make your decisions as an actress and if you are really uncomfortable with something, I wouldn't let a director talk me into it.
EM: We've known each other for years. I’m not going to get into personal stuff. Love scenes are always awkward. Let’s just say that. They’re awful. You guys have heard it (before). I am not giving you anything you haven’t heard from every other actress or actor. Love scenes are terrible. I have managed to—in my career—really skip through them. There are times in a script where I read that my character has a love scene and I carefully address it with the director and I say, “Can we please cut this out? I fell like it is gratuitous. There is no need for it and thankfully that has happened. I feel like I try to avoid them whenever I can and I have done a couple of things that have been appropriate for the films I have been in but I have never done a simulated sex scene because I just feel like they are rarely appropriate.
Q: What are Romina’s feelings towards Luke in the movie? Does she love him?
EM: I think that’s up to everybody to kind of feel and I like when people come up to me and say, “Oh, she really loved him” or “No, she really didn’t—she was doing it for her son!” I don’t even know but I think certainly she was a woman in a really difficult predicament. I am so happy that I had that woman’s day at my house. It added a lot of layers (to my character in this film).
Q: What type of a mother do you think she is? The son seems to be quite a mess. (After Luke dies) we (then) see that she has spent 15 years raising this kid who seems troubled. Once she found out everything (about her son) she was in denial or lying or all of those things.
EM: Right. This is so funny. I am suddenly feeling maternal and overprotective but I am about to say, “He wasn’t as bad as the other kid (referring to the son of Bradley Cooper’s character)!” It’s the other kid’s fault; he set him up. (Laughs.)
Q: It’s always the quiet kids who wind up being the worst.
EM: The truth is that I just feel that she just over parented. By time we finally see her again, she was like, “OK, he’s a teenager I am going to let him get out of his space a bit.” There were a couple of scenes that were cut. One is when I smack him and it was heartbreaking to smack his sweet little face and there was a really hard scene where I was trying to “tough love” him and stuff. But when we see Romina those 15 years later, there’s a sense of her throwing her hands up in the air. Well, not quite throwing her hands up in the air but kind of going, “OK, I don’t know what to do so I’m going to leave this alone because I’ve over parented and then obviously holding on to this alliance to Luke, which is really beautiful. She wanted to avoid that subject matter (of Luke) altogether because it was just too painful but she had that alliance to Luke; she had that bond with him and that she felt that she had to honor him.
EM: No. I am doing Clear History with Larry David. I just finished Clear History and I am so excited.
Q: Is it a drama or a comedy?
EM: It’s Larry David! (Laughs.) I am really excited about this, you guys. It is all improv. It’s incredible. It’s shot like Curb Your Enthusiasm in a way. It’s amazing.
Q: And who did that wonderful polka dot dress you are wearing?
EM: Oh, I don’t know. (Laughs.)
Photos Courtesy Focus Features.