juno temple's got the magic magic touch
With today's release of fantasy blockbuster Maleficent, we catch up with meddling fairy Thistletwit aka Juno Temple, the 24-year-old bright spark actress living life fast, ripping up the rule book and winning Hollywood over in her stride.
Photography Boo George. Styling Jack Borkett. Juno wears jewellery her own.
Juno Temple appears in Kentish Town, North London, in enormous flares and a tie-dyed top, her hair as unruly as her reputation. Her old man Julien must be proud; it's as if a reveller from Glastonbury circa 1978 has just stepped out of a cab and lit a Marlborough Light.
Juno Temple is 24. Last night, she wound up at a house party - "I got to sit on a sofa and smoke," she says. "Fuck I miss that." - but if she's hungover, she hides it well. She's everything you might expect of an actress with a name for working hard and playing hard - fearless and familiar and disarmingly open. Midway through our interview, Juno's agent bursts in. She'd become lost in the studio's warren-like halls and had left her client in an unmonitored interview with a prying journo. "So anyway, weren't we talking about my sex life?" Juno asks, flashing a smile back at her flustered rep.
Yet this is an actress still trying to find her feet, living in Los Angeles, in-demand, friends with all manner of bright young things, a quantifiable sex symbol. Yet one less guarded than she appears, who mentions her boyfriend a lot more than most Hollywood starlets, who wilfully talks about anxiety and insomnia, of spending too much time alone in hotels in distant cities, away from the people that love her.
Acting is emotion. You have to allow yourself to feel. You have to be willing to break down, to feel it. I forget about Juno - I let her go.
Straight after the interview and shoot, Juno heads home to Somerset, a 16th century farmhouse, where she will spend Christmas with her parents and two younger brothers Leo and Felix, both poised to enter the family business. Apart from home, she doesn't miss Blighty much. "There's a melancholy, to it," she says. Juno is the product of a very British, very liberal form of privilege. Her father, Julien Temple, is known for The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle and The Filth and the Fury, the two best films about The Sex Pistols, and The Future Is Unwritten, a documentary about Clash frontman Joe Strummer. Her mother, Amanda Pirie, is a movie producer. They named her after a part of the Grand Canyon they climbed together when Pirie was pregnant
She was born in 1989, and talks of watching Jean Cocteau's French fairy-tale La Belle et la Bête as a four-year-old - "although don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Spongebob Squarepants fan." She grew up used to visits from people like Strummer — Pirie is close to his second wife, Lucinda, and Juno grew up best friends with his daughters and stepdaughter. She almost made it as a movie star as a nine-year-old; she had a tiny part in her dad's film Vigo: Passion for Life (1998), about the French filmmaker Jean Vigo and his struggle with tuberculosis, but Julien cut her out in the edit. Her first role came a year later, in a local play about dinosaurs. She was cast as an Atlasaurus. "If you look at pictures of me growing up, I'm always in fancy dress," she says. "But not just a princess. Sometimes I was a Russian refugee - I'd knock on the door and ask for food with a weird accent."
She went to King's College boarding school in Taunton, and at 14 decided on acting after playing Hermione in a school edition of A Winter's Tale. A year later, Pirie heard about an audition for Notes on a Scandal, Richard Eyre's adaption of the Zoë Heller novel starring Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett. Juno turned up and bagged the role on her first try. A year later, her second audition became her second film, in Joe Wright's Atonement. She recalls Wright telling her not to cry so much after a scene. "Your character is fucked up, but Juno's ok," he told her. "That was a big learning lesson for me," she says.
You have to make sacrifices in this job. But fuck, when it's fun y'know, it's so, so much fun.
But Juno didn't stay in the British film industry for long. There were parts in the camp comedy St. Trinian's, about the high jinks of a girl's boarding school, and a small part in BBC period drama The Other Boleyn Girl by Mandela director Justin Chadwick. Then Juno crossed the Atlantic, pitched her tent at the Sundance Film Festival, and barely looked back. Her parts became sexualised, playing an English student at an American uni happily arranging blindfolded threesomes in Gregg Araki's Kaboom. In Abe Sylvia's Dirty Girl, she played a high-school rebel who didn't much care who she slept with. She got around $2,000 for each job, but was on the radar for much bigger parts.
Then she got Killer Joe, the acclaimed return to the cinema for William Friedkin, director of The Exorcist and Last Tango in Paris. Friedkin had never heard of her, but recounted how Juno sent him a home video of her acting out imaginary scenes in her living room with her younger brother. He cast her as Dottie - the emotional heart of his Southern Gothic fairy tale. "So much energy and vitality and vulnerability and youth," he says of her.
Juno Temple is competing for movie parts - and is now in a social group - with an inner league of actresses trained for Hollywood since day dot. But she never went to drama school, and is halting when describing any technique behind her performances. She talks dutifully of portraying characters with honesty and truthfulness, but she seems to act on intuition - an ability to dredge up, and then physically exude, emotional complexes. She got a B and two Cs at A-level - a C for drama. But she never needed qualifications. She's learnt on the job. "Acting is emotion for me," she says. "You have to allow yourself to feel. You have to be willing to break down, to feel it. I forget about Juno - I let go of her."
At last count, Juno has made 32 movies in an almost 10-year career. "Wow. I did not know that," she says. "I did six movies back to back this year. I've gone from playing a schizophrenic, and then ten days later changing my headspace and becoming a prostitute, and then changing into a pixie a week after that. So I guess it's possible." Alongside more American indies, those six films include some big hitters: Thomas Vinterberg's adaptation of Thomas Hardy's 1874 novel Far from the Madding Crowd, which also stars Carey Mulligan, the long-awaited sequel of Sin City, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba and Rosario Dawson, an independently-produced fantasy with Daniel Radcliffe called Horns, and Disney's live-action retelling of Maleficent, which stars Angelina Jolie.
And then there's Magic Magic, her latest film from the Chilean director Sebastian Silva and co-starring Michael Cera and Emily Browning, in which Juno plays a shy girl undergoing a total nervous breakdown. "One of my biggest fears, one of the scariest thoughts anyone can have, is the idea of losing your mind - to look in the mirror and say: 'I don't know who that is,'" she says. "I've never gone there before as an actress, and it was a head-fuck to play a character unwinding to such extremes for that amount of time. I didn't sleep much during the shoot. I've gone four or five nights on two or three hours sleep before, and I've had to deal with anxiety countless times, and it can get so you can't do anything else because your anxiety is so overwhelming. That helped me relate to the character, but it was a trip. Sebastian had to say to me: 'We're making a movie. You need to relax.'" So how did she relax? "We just had a lot of fun in the evening time," she said. "Michael Cera and Emily Browning are long-term friends of mine, so we could just go for it after the shoot wrapped for the day." She pauses, brushing one of those tight blond curls from her eyes. "You have to make sacrifices in this job. But fuck, when it's fun y'know, it's so, so much fun."
Text Tom Seymour
Photography Boo George
Styling Jack Borkett
Hair Daniel Martin at D + V Management using Bumble and Bumble
Make-up Lynsey Alexander at Streeters using Armani Cosmetics
Photography assistance Tom Sloan, Matthew Joy, James Whitty
Digital technician Sean Geraghty
Styling assistance Kate Iorga, Bojana Kozarevic
Production Laura Conway