Emmanuel Itier: Your accent was very convincing.
Kate Mara: Really? That is a huge compliment because I forgot that I didn´t have a coach on set, and I just sort of made it up so I was nervous. Someone just asked me about it and I thought, “Oh my God, I didn´t even think of that. I didn´t think that maybe somebody from there was going to say it was the worst accent they ever heard.” So good, thank you.
EI: Who makes that dress?
KM: It´s Boomerang.
EI: Usually the movie stars look like bums.
KM: Really? Well, I´m not a movie star so I guess I have to try a little harder.
EI: How was it with all this testosterone?
KM: Yeah, there was a lot, wasn´t there? It was, and we were all on a mountain. I had a blast. It´s not bad being the only girl. There is Rona. Rona and I didn´t have any scenes together, so we weren´t really ever on set together, so it really was like I was the only female, and there weren´t many females working behind the scenes either. It´s not bad, though, because all the boys treat you really well because you are the only girl. They kind of treat you like a princess. But it was a lot of fun.
EI: Was the mountain cold?
KM: It was cold! But below we got 90 degrees. It was rough. We were there for about a week and you have to take a helicopter up there to get to the glacier.
EI: Was that scary?
KM: I was horrified. I was so scared, but then we had to do it so many times, at least twice a day, and normally it was about four times a day in a helicopter ride back and forth for a week. So by the end, I kind of liked it.
It was fun. There were no crashes, knock on wood.
EI: Did you have a trailer up there?
KM: That was actually the hardest part, that the trailers were down below. And it was summer, so down below it was so hot! It felt 90 degrees. I don´t know how hot it was. And then five minutes up on the helicopter and we were freezing. And they brought lunch up there and we really weren´t supposed to go back down during lunch, but I had to. I was too cold and I needed to go down and get warm. They had porta-potties that they had to bring up by helicopter, which is the funniest site.
EI: Did you train for this?
KM: It was quick. I definitely never shot a gun before, but when we were on the glacier, we shot that scene before the other one. They taught me really quickly. I wasn´t supposed to look like an expert at all, but I was scared of that as well because guns kind of scare me. But it was easy and definitely a different experience for me.
EI: Is your career looking good?
KM: Yeah, it´s been a really good year. I just finished another film about a week ago. I was in Lithuania for about three months filming a film called “Transsiberian” with Eduardo Noriega. He´s such a sweetheart! He was great. It´s such a great cast: Sir Ben Kingsley and Emily Mortimer and Eduardo Noriega. It was a really diverse cast. Everyone was from other countries. We shot in Lithuania and it was a mostly Brazilian crew, so it was all these different languages and backgrounds so it was really new. The production company was from Brazil, and the movie is a train ride through Russia, so that´s why we shot in Lithuania. It was really cold there as well.
EI: Is Mark as manly as he seems on set?
KM: Yes, he´s very manly, but he´s really sweet and an incredibly hard worker. He does his homework. He doesn´t just show up. He´s constantly reading scripts. He never had to think about what his line was. He never messed up. You could tell he just really does the work behind the scenes. Our scenes were really intimate and quiet and this whole other film inside. I wasn´t there for all the explosions and all of that. Except for the end on the glacier all of my stuff was with Mark, so it was really fun for me to watch the film as a whole because I had no idea! It felt so much smaller. I knew it wasn´t a small film, but it felt a lot smaller and more intimate with all of my scenes, and watching it was just kind of incredible.
EI: Can you watch blood?
KM: Normally I can´t, but if I´m in it, it´s not as bad. Like watching the torture of Michael Pena and that whole thing, I had seen pictures before, but normally I´m not very good with that. Like, I can´t see horror movies or anything like that.
EI: You look like his girlfriend?
KM: I do? I´ve never heard that before.
EI: … the casting process?
KM: I had a meeting at first, just a normal audition with Antoine and Lorenzo, just by myself and the casting director, Maly Finn, who I love. After that, a couple weeks later I had a screen test with Mark and that was it, because the whole role is her relationship with Swagger, so it´s definitely important that they work together. It was a totally normal casting experience for me.
EI: You are the great granddaughter of the New York Giants’ founder?
KM: Yes, and the Pittsburgh Steelers as well. Acting is a passion of mine, and football is another passion of mine. It´s in my blood, literally. I grew up on it. I think the first Superbowl I went to I was in my mom´s stomach, so it´s something I really love and it´s a hobby of mine, watching football. I love football season.
EI: Does that make you more popular?
KM: Everybody says that to me, but I haven´t really had that experience. I live in Los Angeles right now and I feel it´s different. In New York, I feel there is a lot more fans of football than there are here for some reason, in my experience. I try to be in New York during football season. I really do. Unless I´m shooting a movie, I spend the fall there.
EI: Do you play football?
KM: No, if I was a guy I would.
EI: How was your experience with Antoine?
KM: It was wonderful. I think he´s really, really great with actors. He happens to be really incredible with all the other stuff because it´s such a big action film, so to be so great at that and to be so great at really directing actors and being an actor´s director is unique. And I loved working with him. He´s really hands-on and he really makes you think. You can ask him about the smallest character in the entire script, a person with one word or line, and he would have a whole back-story on them. He´s just a really, really hard worker.
EI: Did you talk about the politics of the movie?
KM: I sort of feel lucky in that way. Reading the script, obviously it´s a political thriller, but my character is just this southern schoolteacher who is a widow because of something that went wrong in Ethiopia. The political aspect is the film, but my character is sort of the quiet and the refuge and romance of it all.
EI: And you?
KM: I don´t like to discuss my love life. If it was a no and then somebody later asked me and I said I didn´t want to discuss it, then it would be obvious that I was seeing someone at that point. I´m always happy. I´m almost always happy.
EI: Are you smart?
KM: I don´t know. That´s a huge compliment. I hope.
EI: Should you be a double doctorate by now?
KM: Absolutely not, but I´ve always been really, really focused. Even at nine years old, I knew what I wanted to do and that´s all I wanted to do. I think that´s when I realized the people in the movies, that´s what they were, they were actors. I think probably “The Sound of Music” or “The Wizard of Oz” were the ones that did it. I grew up on old musicals. That´s what my mom used to show me, and like “Greece” and “Oklahoma” and all those films, that was just a passion of mine. And as soon as I realized I could do that when I grew up, I knew that´s what I wanted to do.
EI: Why did you get such good grades? To be an actor?
KM: I was a hard worker all the way around. I didn´t have the best grades.
EI: Do you sing, and what about musicals?
KM: Yeah, that´s what I started out doing–musical theater. And when I was nine,
I think I did my first play and I think it was “The Sound of Music”, and that was how I learned how to act. I didn´t go to acting school.
EI: What about dance?
KM: Yeah, all of that. That´s the greatness about musical theater and growing up in New York. It´s available for you.
EI: Are you happy about the comeback in musical films?
KM: I´m so excited! It´s thrilling. I could not be happier. “Dreamgirls” I
Loved, and “Chicago”–I just love it. It feels like that´s why I started and that´s why I´m here today, and I just hope that one day I get the chance to do something.
EI: Which musical would you like to be in?
KM: None that I´m involved in, but I don´t know. There are so many and so many that don´t need to be redone. I love the original versions of everything. I´ll watch “Gypsy” with Natalie Wood and I´ll just love it. I love them all. You can just say that I´m a huge musical theater nerd.
EI: What have you liked in the last couple years?
KM: I saw a play, “Lieutenant of Inishmore”, that was my favorite of the past
I don´t know how many years. It was so incredible. I don´t know if it´s still on.
EI: Have you seen “The Drowsy Chaperone”?
KM: No, and I´ve heard it´s great.
EI: Do you feel isolated in LA?
KM: There are a lot of things I really love about LA. I´m an east coast girl, but coming back from Lithuania, I couldn´t wait to get back to the weather. But then again, I´m here for a few weeks and I kind of go, “I want the rain and I want the dark.” So go back to New York.
EI: What else is better about LA?
KM: Well, the reason I moved here is it´s easier for me to be really focused on work.
EI: Are you saying it´s boring here?
KM: No! I wouldn´t say that! I bought a place here a few years ago. I wouldn´t have done that if I didn´t appreciate it. I definitely appreciate Los Angeles.
EI: Where in New York did you grow up?
KM: I grew up in Bedford in Westchester County, and as soon as I turned 18 I moved to Manhattan and was acting there, and then I moved out here.
EI: Do you still have a place there?
KM: No, I have a huge family and they are all there, so I just stay with them.
EI: Favorite TV show?
KM: “24″. “Nip/Tuck” is good, but “24″ is my all-time favorite. I was in both. I got some good TV shows that I got to be a part of. I kind of feel like Mark´s character in this film reminds me of Jack Bauer. He can do anything. I´m so addicted to “24″. It was hard to be on it because I didn´t want to read the script because I didn´t want to know what was going to happen and I was worried about messing something up. I´m such a huge fan.
EI: Has that happened before?
KM: Being a fan? That´s never happened before. I was so nervous in that audition. I don´t normally get that nervous, but for that I was just horrified. That show to me, for some reason… no other show really does that for me.
KM: I watch “Entourage”. It´s hilarious. I love that show.
EI: Is TV getting better?
KM: I think it´s changing. TV is evolving. There are so many shows. I really feel like “24″, but there are other shows as well that some episodes look like they could be a movie. It´s all changing and growing, and TV is so good now.
KM: I have normal hobbies. Football is something I´m obsessed with, and I love watching football in fall and all that, but I like going to the movies. That´s my favorite thing to do, totally outside of work. I´m just a moviegoer. I love it. I´d go six times a week if I could. Even seeing bad movies is okay. I don´t like renting movies. I´d so much rather go and experience it there.
EI: Won´t everybody recognize you?
KM: We´ll see when that day comes. It sort of depends on the role. I really admire actresses like Hilary Swank and just women that can change their bodies for the role they are playing. You have to be really determined.
EI: Would you gain weight?
KM: I´d like to think that I would. I think you can´t say unless you´ve got a role offered. Like, if you were to play someone with a shaved head, you´d say, “Oh yeah, I´ll do that!” And then it comes and you aren´t so sure. I like to change my look for roles, absolutely.
EI: Did you work out to get in shape for this role?
KM: In life, I do. I try to be active. Working out makes me feel good mentally, and that´s the most important thing for me. If I haven´t worked out in a month, I don´t feel good. But definitely when you are doing a film, especially if you know you are going to be in your pajamas or whatever the whole time, you are definitely a little more conscious of it, without a doubt. And Mark Wahlberg works out a lot so you don´t want to look like a nasty pig next to him.
EI: Did you work out with him?
KM: No. Maybe I should have.