|Her favorite movies are the big popcorn movies. She tells me the movies she goes to see and I can't believe it. She loves them and now I get it. You have to go with the audience and get into it. Hearing them scream and clap was fun. |
Q: What kind of fear did you conquer when you were floating on the water and the crew was telling you, "Okay there are a couple of nets out but if a shark gets by just hit him on the nose."
JM: I do have to say that the stunt team in Australia and the woman who did my stunts, Gillian were phenomenal. I never ever felt scared with them around. The only time I got a little nervous was at the end of the movie when you see me, after I swim up, and I pop up and I'm by the suitcases. Well, that day we were way out in the middle of the ocean and they told me that I was going to get into this plastic tube that was attached to a suitcase. They told me to go down as far as I could go and then count to ten and come up. I said, "It's hard for me to come up out of a tube." They said, "Could you just do it?" I found out there were sharks everywhere so they had to protect me with this tube because they didn't want me to get bitten. That was the only time I got nervous. Even the night shoot when you see my character Epps jump overboard and swim to get Greer there were sharks. There were big shark scares but there were professional shark people who came and put nets down everywhere. The stunt guys, as I jumped in, were right there. I really felt taken care of until the next day the local paper had this huge picture of me in my scrubs from "E.R." It said, "'E.R.' star risks life to make movie." It showed this feeding frenzy of sharks, which was literally outside my door. I didn't realize quite how big it was until the next day.
Q: It's almost crazy to me that you guys did this. I can't imagine it.
JM: It sounds stupid, doesn't it? But we were truly safe. I mean Ron's incredibly knowledgeable about all animals and sharks. He told me that they don't really want to come to people. There was also a horrible noise from the boats coming off. It was fine. Isaiah got a little freaked out. I told him I'm not and you are. It was interesting. He said, "There are sharks. I'm out of here." But it was fine. Apparently there was a school of tuna off the Great Barrier Reef. The whole time we were there the currents were so strong. Four people drowned. We were not supposed to swim in the ocean. The sharks were coming to feed off the tuna that had come down from the gulf coast to the Great Barrier Reef. They weren't big sharks like hammerheads or great whites. I did see them off my balcony in the water.
Q: How weird is it when you go to the craft services table to get a bagel and there's somebody with a hook hanging through her head and blood dripping all over her?
JM: Well I'm used to that from "E.R." My first year of "E.R." a guy would walk in with an arrow through his head and blood and no one would really pay attention to him. You sit in the commissary and a guy' had blood all over him. That kind of stuff I was used to. The sequence with the Santos character when he gets caught in the fire and comes out after Gabriel, I thought they did really well. That was a little disgusting. But mostly it was the sets that were hard to be on because they were done so well -- the grease, the dank smell, the rust and the dark. After four-and-a-half-months I was actually grateful to be in the water. It was hard to be in that environment.
Q: In "The Man from Elysian Fields" you recently played a lovely, tender, motherly character. You really showed your range here. I'm wondering when you get a script you like, which do you relate to more: the tough girl or the mother?
JM: They're all a part of me. I've always had a tomboy quality to me that I embrace and don't run away from. At the same time I'm a real girlie-girl. For this role I worked out two hours a day, I learned how to use weights and train and do what guys do. That was fun for me because it's not who I am at all. I wouldn't want to be that person. I probably would be much more like Dena in Andy Garcia's film. But at the same time I don't know if I'd be so much like her either. That's what I love about acting, you get to find little pieces of yourself in every character you play.
Q: "The Man from Elysian Fields" is truly one of my favorite movies of the year. What was it like for you to have two movies out at the same time?
JM: These things never work out the way they are planned. We did "The Man from Elysian Fields" two years ago and I was on my way to the Toronto Film Festival last year on 9/11 when the terrorist attacks happened. I never got out of New York to get there. But I'm so grateful now. First I thought, "Oh my God, this isn't going to work. This is too much." I have "The Man from Elysian Fields," "Ghost Ship" and then "Evelyn," which is an Irish film that I did. So "Ghost Ship" is book-ended by two independent, smaller films. All three are very, very different characters. In a sense for me it was a real blessing that people can see that I have a real versatility.
Q: You worked with Pierce Brosnan in "Evelyn."
JM: It's an amazing cast with Alan Bates, Aidan Quinn and Steven Rea.
Q: It was a real labor of love for the director to get that made. Does that affect what you do when you know how much it means to him?
JM: It was like a love-fest. Every day Bruce Beresford would thank us for being there. We kept telling him, "We want to be here. We are all really happy." He'd say, "Thank you so much. I can't believe it." He was so grateful. When it's a labor of love actors are so appreciated and there's such collaboration. I'd worked with Bruce before. It's a dream for me. It was a paid vacation. I was in Dublin, Ireland with all these amazing actors. I'd sit and watch Alan Bates. I would have paid just to sit there and see him. He's one of the best actors I've ever seen. He's fantastic. And I trust Bruce. I'd read the phone book for him. He's truly one of the most underrated directors ever.
Q: Other than Sigourney Weaver in "Alien" there weren't a whole lot of women action heroes. Did you have women heroes you looked up to growing up?
JM: That's a good question because I was a little bit sheltered from pop culture as a kid. I wasn't allowed to watch television. Even if I was to be honest, in England there were four channels and there wasn't much television on at that time. I did go to see movies but never really any action movies and I don't think there were any women. I wanted to be Carly Simon. That's about all I can tell you about who I looked up to. I thought she was fabulous. But in terms of action, I was a horse-back rider so I lived at a barn, I rode all the time and show-jumped. My idol probably was my teacher because she was so good and I wanted to be as good as she was. In that sense it gave me that tomboy, action quality. You gallop at a field and jump a five-foot fence. It was just what I did. So maybe she was.
Q: What was it about Carly Simon as a singer-songwriter that impressed you so much.
JM: Well, I think it was because my big sister liked Carly Simon. I just liked every thing she liked. Also, Carly Simon was married to James Taylor who I thought was a hottie. But it was the only music I knew, along with Cat Stevens. My parents were hippies so I wasn't really exposed to anything else until my sister got to high-school and she suddenly started playing "The Clash," "The Cure" and "Blondie." Carly Simon was the only thing we had in the house except for Beethoven, Bach and Vivaldi. I wasn't exposed to a lot of pop art.
Q: So what was it like the first time you went to a rock show and who was it?
JM: Actually Bonnie Raitt was the first one I ever saw. The second one was two years ago and it was Mick Jagger. It was hysterical. I was blown away. I have to get out more, I think. I've never been a big concert-goer. I'm always afraid I'm going to get trampled.
Q: So was your heart pumping in those action sequences in "Ghost Ship?"
JM: Oh God, you get it pumping. I got into it. You have to. I don't think you can fake that too much. My favorite scene of the movie was the opening shot where I'm hooking myself up to that cable line to go in between the two rigs, jump in and save it. I was so scared at first because I had to jump. The camera was on the line, ten feet in front of me on rollers. There was no one on it. It was just me and that camera that they'd set up. They wanted me to just let go and have the camera to my face. The first two times were just horrific. By the third time and I knew I wasn't going to fall. I was in heaven. It was so much fun to suddenly feel like that. I thought I would never in my real life get to do this.
Q: You are the only woman in this cast. What's it like when the cameras start rolling? Is there a certain testosterone factor?
JM: They did everything I told them to! (LAUGHS) No. I got really lucky because I'm working with real actors. It didn't feel like there was a whole bunch of ego going on, which I'm sure there could have been given that I was the lead in it. It didn't feel that way at all. It felt like an ensemble through and through. I couldn't do what I was doing without them. They couldn't do what they were doing without me. I didn't feel like I was the big star. We all had the same size trailers. We were all eating the same food. Of course, they got to eat more than I did. But it was all good. In fact, it was really helpful. Gabriel and Ron would always say to me, "You're the hero." But I do take my work seriously. One of the big issues in the movie - that Steve Beck and I would argue over all the time -was whether I cried in certain sequences. I would ask "Would Schwarzenegger cry? I don't think so. Would Stallone cry? No." I only cry once in this movie. It's when Murphy dies. That's the only thing that matters to her. If I'm crying at every turn when something bad happens I am not a credible hero and they would never ask a guy to do that. You've got to make it credible.
Q: Are you signed on for the sequel?
JM: No, I'm not but I think it would be so hilarious to do a sequel. Why not?
Q: What was Christmas like when you were a kid?
JM: Magical. Every Christmas was magical for me. It was always a time when I got to be with my dad because my parents were divorced. The schools I went to in whatever country made a big deal over Christmas and it just always seemed to be a magical time for me. I need to be in the snow. I need a tree - a real traditional Christmas.
Q: What sort of music do you play right now?
JM: Cool Hand Luke.