Emily Browning: Violet the Inventor
Gorgeous (she looks like a young Angelina Jolie) 15-year-old Emily Browning is one lucky Aussie teen. She was chosen to play the orphaned Violet in the new Jim Carrey fanciful adventure Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. This isn't the first time on film for the young actress. She was a creepy young ghost in Ghost Ship and ran from an even creepier ghost in the horror thriller Darkness Falls. Before that, Emily was in loads of TV in her native Australia.
Emily was chosen for her very "timeless quality", according to her director Brad Silberling. "She has a sense of confidence and ease well beyond her years", says the director. She is also very intelligent but hey, still a teenager. In the film she wears elaborate costumes that seem to come from the 1900's but, the day of our interview, Emily bounced in wearing jeans, a black, long-sleeved leotard top with a red bead necklace. She curled her feet under her in her chair and we were off....
TeenHollywood.com: Was doing an American accent hard?
Emily: Not very hard, we have American TV back home and I guess I just sort of learned from that. I didn't have any coaching I just sort of went in and did it. It was kind of scary sometimes I just hoped I wouldn't screw up. I hope I did alright.
TeenHollywood.com: Were you a big fan of the books?
Emily: I read the original script before I read the books and put in an audition on tape. I thought I should research it more so I read the first book. They were really cool because I'd never seen a kids book like this before that dealt with issues like this where the kids were alone and in some ways that is terribly sad because they don't have any adult allies, there's not anyone they can turn to if they're in danger. The adults are trying to kill them or they're just really big idiots and don't listen to them. I thought that was really cool and I loved the books.
TeenHollywood.com: What do you think of it is about the books that taps into what kids really appreciate?
Emily: I've heard a lot of people say that this movie's going to be too dark for kids. That's why kids like the books. Kids don't want things that are like 'The Littlest Elf', maybe when they're like three. Kids want adventure and maybe that's why kids sneak into adult films; because they're more real. This is not an adult film and it's not going to scare kids but it's not cheesy and it's not going to play down to them. I'm sure one kid has been frustrated at one point or another by adults not listening to them and adults not paying attention to what they say.
TeenHollywood.com: You did Ghost Ship and Darkness Falls. Do you like spooky stories?
Emily: Yeah, I'm not into cheesy things and things like that. I was told at a lot of auditions when I was a bit younger and even recently that I'm not bubbly enough, or not enough like an Olsen twin, or perky. I'm not going to be bringing out a (pop) album any time soon. I think that's maybe why I've been cast for the darker roles and I think that it definitely helps with this film. Terrible things have happened to (Violet). It's not because I'm a sad person because I'm not, I'm happy, it's just that I find it easier to tap into the characters pain that they're feeling. Not because I've had that myself but because it seems more real than having to laugh at something that isn't funny. I laughed a lot in this film, they didn't show it but I laughed a lot at Jim Carrey but in other films where they've asked me to laugh at something I can't, it's impossible.
TeenHollywood.com: Did Jim Carrey try to scare you? Did it work?
Emily: There was a scene where, it's not in the film anymore, we're first making the pasta and he gets up on the table and kicks everyone of the plates off and pasta goes flying everywhere and he's going nuts and it was sooo funny and I understand why the kids would have been scared in that situation but to us it was really funny. The camera was on me and Liam and Jim was behind the camera not actually kicking plates but we were meant to look like the plates were flying and I guess we were still thinking about it and thinking it was funny so I guess we didn't look scared enough, anyway they took that scene out because it would have been a little too intense.
TeenHollywood.com: It was a big commitment to make this movie. Do you live here now?
Emily: No I live in Melbourne and I've been there for the past six months since I've finished filming the movie. It was kind of a hard decision to make but I wanted to make it so badly that I just couldn't pass it up. Now I've experienced a huge Hollywood movie and I don't know if I want to do anything this big again but now I can say I've experienced it and now I probably want to do more independent films but I can say I did it without doing something cheesy. It's hard to find something so huge with such a good script.
TeenHollywood.com: What if they want you back for the sequel?
Emily: There's nothing definite yet and I'm not sure about a sequel because the kids don't get any older in the books and they haven't written a sequel so by the time they write anything and get it in the works I might be almost 18.
TeenHollywood.com: What kind of music are you into?
Emily: I like everything that's different. I like things from different genres. I'm not into the whole pop thing. There's a band called Air which is really cool. There's an English band called Gomez which is really cool. I have sort of eclectic taste in music, I'll listen to anything and if I like a song by someone I'll follow them up and get the whole album so I end up with all different stuff.
TeenHollywood.com: Did you get along with Liam?
Emily: Yeah we got along really well. We sort of had a brother and sister kind of thing going on because we would argue all the time. Not serious just silly "I'm right and you're wrong" kind of arguments. Which is really good for the film because you get the sense that before their parents died they never really talked that much, they were never really good friends and they sort of had to come together. I think it was really good because they have conflicting opinions on some things because Klaus is a little pessimistic and Violet's a lot more of an optimist and it gets hard for them sometimes. He was great and we got along really well.
TeenHollywood.com: Were you a little in awe of Meryl Streep?
Emily: A little yeah, a lot, I was very nervous to meet her. I wasn't as nervous to meet Jim because I've seen him in so many fun roles. I've never seen Meryl in a comedic role before and so I'd seen her as sort of a serious, elegant, very composed gracious kind of thing and I was just scared I was going to make an idiot of myself in front of her. But when I met her she really (was) fantastic and she is that graceful, composed person but at the same time she was really easy to talk to. I learned from her that you can be someone as huge as she is and still have your head screwed on straight and not be a diva.
TeenHollywood.com: What attracted you to Violet's character?
Emily: I thought it was great how she doesn't need people's help. There was the whole girls being oppressed and the whole feminism thing and now it's sort of turned around a lot. We've gone back 50 years, there's so many girls that are blonde and wear skimpy outfits and are like "oh save me" and I loved that she wasn't like that.
TeenHollywood.com: What was the hardest scene to do?
Emily: The hurricane scene was probably the most physically demanding. The hardest emotionally, which they didn't put as much of it in the movie, was the scene where Violet sort of decides to give up, where she's in the wedding dress and she's just like "I'm done" and she doesn't want to be brave anymore. That was difficult and there was a lot more emotion than what is actually shown. Not anything that scarred me for life, I wasn't upset about it afterwards but during it it was hard to evoke those emotions.
TeenHollywood.com: What did you think of the sets?
Emily: The sets were amazing. When I first walked on the set I was so blown away and that's when I realized "ok this is a big thing and I really don't want to mess this up". The sets really got you into the world of the characters because they weren't just little pieces of set, like on a lot of films, they were 360 degree sets. When you walked in you were where the kids were. I thought it was really amazing and beautiful and the way it was shot with the lighting and the cinematography was great.
TeenHollywood.com: How about the costumes?
Emily: The costumes were brilliant, Colleen Atwood is a genius. She is an evil genius because the clothes were so uncomfortable (laughs). They weren't uncomfortable like a full corset but it was sort of a bodice. I needed heels because Liam was so much taller than me. It didn't help much because he is so tall. I was so excited when I saw the dress and I thought "I can't wait to wear it" and then after a week I couldn't wait to get it off. This was the black dress. The wedding dress I wasn't allowed to sit in because the material was so fine that it got creased and you couldn't un-crease it and also the train was so long that it would always get caught on things.
TeenHollywood.com: Which do you enjoy more Independent or Big Hollywood movies?
Emily: I enjoy both, there is so much more pressure on big films but there's also a lot more things you can play with because of the budget and it can look more visually amazing. I don't know I really enjoy both. I liked this but there are so many big budget films that are all special effects and the characters are all one-dimensional. In this the characters got to show a lot of emotion.
TeenHollywood.com: Did you get to talk to Daniel about this character and about this book?
Emily: Not about the characters so much but I did talk to him about the books. He's a really cool guy, he's kind of odd. He'll tell a joke but he won't laugh at it himself and you don't know if you should be laughing and he's got this weird sarcastic thing going on.
TeenHollywood.com: Are you home schooled?
Emily: I just go to public school.
TeenHollywood.com: Are you ready for the fame?
Emily: I don't know. They don't recognize me back home. I could be standing next to the billboard of the movie and no one would notice. No one expects to see it so they don't see it.
Lynn Barker is a Hollywood-based entertainment journalist and produced screenwriter.