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Bev Cohn: Carey Mulligan
EDITORíS NOTE: The following interview originally appeared in the April 8, 2010 edition of the Santa Monica Mirror and the edited version is being reprinted as a courtesy of that publication.

A Moment With Carey Mulligan
By Beverly Cohn

photo of Carey Mulligan by the writer
The sublime Carey Mulligan.
Photo Credit: Beverly Cohn

arey Mulligan is a beautiful, articulate, charming young woman. Her breakout role in “An Education” earned her an Actress in a Leading Role Oscar nomination. The theme of “lost virginity,” is also in her latest film, "The Greatest," in which she co-stars with Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon. The story is about a young woman who becomes pregnant by her boyfriend who dies and the subsequent impact she has on his grieving family. The following interview has been edited for print purposes.

Q: You lost your virginity in your last two roles. Is this going to be a recurring theme?

Mulligan: In An Education it’s never actually seen and is motivated by completely different reasons. I don’t think she’s ever in love with David (character in An Education) but she made a decision to lose her virginity and goes through with it. With my Rose character, she believes that Ryan is the greatest love of her life. He’s her first love and she believes they will spend the rest of their lives together.

Q: Do you think it’s challenging for the audience to see the love scenes?

Mulligan: I am reluctant to take off my clothes, but the way it was shot, it was not gratuitous. It was very pure and sweet. The remembering of that one special night was in her head and everything was beautiful and colorful and perfect and she will keep that memory forever. The audience had to see it, especially because she is carrying his baby.

Carey Mulligan with John Simmons in the film the Greatest
Johnny Simmons (Ryan) & Carey Mulligan (Rose).
Photo Credit: Paladin

Q: How great do you think the death of Ryan impacted on Rose?

Mulligan: It wasn’t as though she lost a member of her family. She didn’t have a lot of memories with Ryan, but I can well imagine how terrifying it must be to go to a grieving family and tell them you’re carrying their dead son’s baby.

Q: Do you draw on your personal experiences in developing a character?

Mulligan: I don’t use emotional recall or my own life. Without sounding ridiculous or pretentious, I create a person. I make up a history of the character’s life, including memories, images and things that are special to that person and then use that profile in building my character. Besides being more honest, it makes me bolder because I would do things as the character that I would never do as Carey.

Q: Did this method of developing a character grow out of an acting experience that you had?

Mulligan: I use to draw from my own life. When I did Pride & Prejudice, I had to do a scene where I cried and I spent three hours imaging my mom’s funeral. I imagined coffins and all sorts of terrible things to try to conjure up the tears and did that for a couple of years. It was really horrible and untruthful because I was basing my characters on experiences connected to me, not to the character and it became more about how I would act, not how this person would act.

Carey Mulligan with Pierce Brosnan in the film The Greatest
Pierce Brosnan with Carey Mulligan who plays Rose, girlfriend of his late son.
Photo Credit: Paladin

Q: You shot the film in 23 days. Did you like that fast pace?

Mulligan: Yes. I wouldn’t necessarily do it in every film. It was a low-budget film with a small cast so we didn’t have trailers and were thrust together most of the time both on and off the set. You have to be prepared to work as you only get four or five takes and then have to move on so it makes the other actors listen and to try to help each other. I had to do this scene with Pierce where I tell him I’m pregnant but when I woke up that morning, I had forgotten how to act. We tried a few takes but I couldn’t get it. Pierce could see how I was struggling because after every take, I would swear to myself, getting a little “actorey.” Half way through the third take, I got to the point where I should have been at the beginning, so he flipped back and said the first line and we started the scene again.

Q: Was there one moment in your childhood when you decided you wanted to be an actor?

Mulligan: I don’t know because I started acting when I lived in Germany. I was six and was one of the kids in a school production of The King & I. I loved it and just kept doing it. Until I was fourteen, I wanted to do musical theatre, but realized that I wasn’t good enough so I decided to go into straight acting and got my first professional job when I was eighteen, which was Pride & Prejudice.

Q: What did you love about your character?

Mulligan: The thing that I liked about Rose was that she has a generosity of spirit. She walks into this family trying to find a base, but defers to their grief as she soon understands she is there to facilitate their recovery. The reason she wants to tell Pierce’s character about the love she and his son had, was that her greatest fear is that someone will trivialize what happened, like it was young love and didn’t mean anything.

Q: Is there any truth to the Emma Thompson rumor that you will be doing Eliza Doolittle and is there any danger in being compared to Julie Andrews or Audrey Hepburn who originated the stage and screen roles respectively?

Mulligan: I honestly don’t know. (The answer is a bit confusing since "My Fair Lady" is listed as being in pre-production with Mulligan in the role of Eliza Doolittle.) I think with every remake people feel a connection to the actors who originated the roles. I don’t think you should put yourself up against other actresses, but just do the best you can to nail it.

Q: We look forward to seeing you in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

Mulligan: Thank you. It was quite an extraordinary experience working with him.

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Let Bev know what you think about her traveling adventure.

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Thanks so much for those lovely tourism photos, especially of Ireland. I certainly enjoyed all the places you suggested, and am working towards my next vacation. Don’t forget Cuba. That’s an exciting place.

Rosalie, Los Angeles

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Enjoyed your article on Mira Sorvino. Such an interesting background – family, education, career and now human rights activist. I'm not a gossip mag fan so getting more meaty news about movie celebrities from you gives me hope that there are some inteligent life forms in Hollywood.

Peter Paul, Pasadena, CA

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Thank you, Bev. This reminded me to go see the movie, "An Education," which I had already almost forgotten about, having seen the preview a few weeks ago. I enjoy this actress quite a bit--she has a uniqueness about her and she pulls me in. I enjoyed this.

Sandeee, Seattle, WA

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Thank you Beverly,I really enjoyed reading about your intimate conversation with Forest, of whom I am a great admirer. I look forward to seeing the film "Our Family Wedding."

Yoka, Westlake Village, CA

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Thank you for the sending me the beautiful article you wrote about Ireland. We will use your recomendations for hotels in the Southern part. We plan to also go to Dublin and some other Northern cities so I will get some recommendations for these from others. After reading your article, I am getting more excited about going. I think we will be in Ireland for 8 days altogether.

Leah Mendelsohn, Santa Monica, CA

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Very much enjoyed Ms. Cohn's article about Munich, especially the visuals. Though it has been 25 years since my last visit, the piece brought back countless pleasant memories of the city and the people!! Many thanks.

Lawrence, Los Angeles

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Marianplatz and that general area is truly one of the best Christmas celebrations in the world. Between that and Oktoberfest (which I can only imagine) Munich is one of the greatest cities in the world for major annual events.

Christopher Dale, New York, NY

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Hi Bev, you have done some wonderful pieces on some great celebs...Great work. The travel articles are just wonderful too.

Scott Mueller, Huntington Beach, CA

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Your great Zurich article makes me want to go there for the holidays! I love the photos, too, especially the ones of you in the sleigh, the view over the houses and the zoo!

Anna Marie, Santa Monica, CA

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Lovely article! As a European, and having been to Zurich (albeit in summer) I can vouch for this lovely city. Great pictures, too!

Helene Robins, Santa Monica, CA

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Hi Bev,

Nice review, nice seeing you, nice website interface "...Talk to Bev" - Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Richard D. Kaye, Marina del Rey, CA

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Hi Bev,

Your interview with John Cusack is very interesting. I always wondered why these actors/actresses always get top billing when really, if you think about it, the real work come from the animators, writers and tech whizzes who spend far more hours on the movie than those actors. I know, I know, it's the all about marketing. The names of these actors are what bring in the big bucks. Still, I think these actors are way overpaid for the "little" that they do.

I remember that once upon a time, the early animation classics never mentioned the voices behind the characters. I think it was only later when Walt Disney tapped into the voices of known celebrities like Walter Matthau in the Jungle Book or Zsa Zsa Gabor in The Rescuers that the voices became a marketing magnet.

Keep up the good work. I enjoy your interviews as you peer into the lives of the Hollywood celebrities.

Peter Paul of South Pasadena, CA

Ed Boitano's travel blog/review
Eugene Chaplin Introduces Chaplin's World Museum in Vevey, Switzerland

Charlie Chaplin and the Chaplin Museum
Lake Geneva/ Matterhorn Region and Switzerland Tourism recently blew into Los Angeles with the most esteemed guest, Eugene Chaplin. A man of remarkable lineage, he is the fifth child of Oona O'Neill and Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, the grandson of playwright Eugene O'Neill, the brother of Geraldine Chaplin and father of actress/model Kiera Chaplin.

Go There

Tom Weber's travel blog/review
Treasures of Ireland: The Burren (Dispatch #14)

a dolmen at The Burren

The Palladian Traveler ventures back to the days of fearless Celtic warriors to search for some "stones to take you home" as he files his latest dispatch from the monochromatic moonscape known as The Burren.

Go There

John Clayton's travel blog/review
Buckingham Palace – It's THE Most Popular Tour in Great Britain (Part 2 of a 2-Part Series)

Buckingham Palace exit
Is it more momentous for a Brit to do the Buckingham Palace tour than say an American or indeed any other nationality? Yes, I know that's an odd question, but if you grow up – as I did – in London back in the 1950s, getting inside Buckingham Palace was the stuff of dreams. Hence my surprise at touring BP in 2005.

Ringo Boitano's travel blog/review
Paradise on Earth: The Romance of Tahiti and Her Islands

aurora borealis lights up the night sky near Fairbanks
The first thing you notice is the fragrance. The intoxicating perfume of the tiare flower announces to your senses that you are in a magical place, overflowing with tropical vegetation and soothing trade winds. It is the same fragrance that the English seamen on the HMS Bounty also first encountered; but they came, not for flowers, but for breadfruit, intended as a new food staple for their slaves in the West Indies.

Eric Anderson's travel blog/review
Provence: As Much a Mood, a Spirit as a Destination

Christmas card
"On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" goes the song. Robert Goulet sang it and Barbra Streisand and Johnny Mathis, too, and it surely comes to mind when you stand on a bluff in the Luberon of Provence and stare across at the little hill village of Gordes. The view is the best part; the village's interior itself is not dramatic and stands as a warning of what contemporary popularity can do to the simple homes of 12th century working people.

go there

Fyllis Hockman's travel blog/review
Exploring Venice: Lost and Found. And Special Finds. Repeat.

Venice street musicians
Walking home to our apartment in Venice, we share a wave through the window with the owner of Baba, our local osteria. Leaving for a day of sightseeing, a cup of my favorite pistachio gelato awaits me despite the early hour. At the Bar Dugole, we relax after a day of sightseeing and order the regular: vodka for my husband and Amaretto for me.

Go There

Greg Aragon's travel blog/review
Traveling with Beautiful Boots and a Bison Backpack

Bison Redwood Backpack

People often asked about my favorite travel apparel and gear. This happened to me at the airport recently. One question came as I was putting back on my clothes after going through the TSA checkpoint striptease. Before leaving the area, I heard a soft voice say, "hey, I really like your boots. Where did you get them?" Looking up, I found a uniformed employee staring at my feet.

Go There

Bev Cohn's travel blog
Film Review: "My Hero Brother" – A Tribute to the Human Spirit

a scene from the documentary 'My Hero Brother'

I just spent five days attending the Santa Barbara Film Festival and for the most part, the features, animated shorts, and documentaries were quite professional and compelling. That said, "My Hero Brother," a documentary that was particularly outstanding, told the remarkable and inspiring story about a group of Down syndrome young men and women who go on a two-week trek through the Himalayas with their non-Down syndrome siblings.

Go There

Deb Roskamp's travel photo blog
La Paz, Baja California Sur

The Sea of Cortez, Baja California Sur

Photographer Deb Roskamp focuses her camera on La Paz, Baja California Sur. The resort property is CostaBaja, and the boat tours, which include snorkeling at the UNESCO protected site, Isla Espiritu Santo, were conducted by Fun Baja. The photographs are intended to speak for themselves.

Raoul Pascual's travel blog
Leviticus 20:13
Sent by Tom of Pasadena, CA

It all makes sense now. Gay marriage and marijuana was legalized in the last election. Leviticus 20:13 states
"If a man lays with another man, he should be stoned..." We've been interpreting it wrong all these years!

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