The Australian actress Abbie Cornish is releasing the indie drama The Girl, a movie that took her to Mexico for a few weeks. For Cornish, The Girl was a life changing experience and in our interview in the hotel Four Seasons we talked about how she came to be a part of this film, how easy she found this character to relate to, learning to speak in fluent Spanish and to love the Mexican culture. She also talked about the remake of Robocop where she co-stars with Gary Oldman.
Q: I read that you speak Spanish?
A: Yes. Right. I loved it. I did learn during the shooting of the movie The Girl. I was lucky that I was forced to practice the Spanish, just because we were sometimes in villages that were quite remote and, in some of those villages, people don’t speak English, at all. The only way I could communicate was to speak Spanish. Some days, if I was really tired, my brain just wouldn’t work.
Q: How long it took you to learn Spanish?
A: I knew a little bit, but it took on a whole another level when I worked with a dialect coach and a Spanish teacher. You get all the sounds, nuances and the flavour of the language. I worked really, really hard on it. It was the hardest thing. I had this Mexican lady named Tina, who was my dialect coach for my Spanish. I had about three months of Spanish lessons, and then, when I got to Mexico, in the three weeks leading up to the shoot, I did quite an intensive amount of time with the Spanish dialect coach.
Q: Being from Australia were you interested in Spanish culture?
A: Of course. I was always interested in the world even though I grew up on a 170-acre ranch, which feels like I’m out in the middle of nowhere. I used to watch a lot of SBS and ABC in Australia, which has a lot of foreign films, foreign correspondence, short films and independent film. So I was exposed to different cultures and different lifestyles at a young age. I also watched a lot of television late night since during the day we’re rooted on a farm and riding a lot of horses. At night time, I’ve watched a lot of European films and sort of had wider vision of the world cause of that. And I also loved reading encyclopaedias. I know it sounds incredibly geeky, but I loved it. When I was growing up we didn’t have the Internet until I was twelve or thirteen. Back then, it was just e-mail and some online encyclopaedia. My parents had this amazing encyclopaedia set with the page edges with gold. When I went to Mexico I was a little overwhelmed. I was in culture shock back in America. Going there was just a lovely, intense and amazing confronting experience that changed my life.
Q: I read somewhere that the original Robocop was a massive hit with your family, particularly your brothers. Is that correct?
A: That is correct. I grew up on a farm so, I think the first time we went to the cinema I was probably six and so in 170 acres, you get a cool VHS and it just goes on repeat. And Robocop was one of those. I think my brothers played it till it wouldn’t play anymore. So I would have seen it about five times.
Q: So how did your brothers react when you told them you got this?
A: They were more excited about this than they have been about any other gig. (laughter) And I have worked since I was fifteen; I am now 31, so sixteen years. All of a sudden my older brother was like, how is it, I was like, oh, I got this gig, blah, blah, Robocop, and he goes, what was that? You mean, Robocop? And I go like, yeah, and he’s like oh my gosh, (laughter) he wanted to hear all about it, what character am I playing, it was really cool, he was nice.
Q: When you do a movie like this, and you go home, does it scare you to think about robots?
A: It scares me more when you watch Elysium, and the robot is just there and it’s all messed up and it’s graphitised, there’s the robot and he’s like, “you have reported to your blah, blah…” and it’s almost like it’s about to malfunction, that is scary to me. But the robots in Robocop, when you watch the film, you will, I hope, because it’s what I feel, is their transition into a world like that doesn’t feel too far away. It feels very contemporary, even though some of the action sequences you are blown away by, and go, oh my gosh, the sequence in China is incredible, the concepts and the robots themselves don’t look that far out of place. Because, it’s still the robots and it’s the police force, it’s not this integrated. I mean, they are all on the same side, but it doesn’t feel too foreign. It’s interesting.
Q: Would you have a robot at home that serves you coffee? (laughter)
A: I don’t think so. I totally thought all that stuff when we were shooting. Now, I almost feel like I don’t even think about it too much, that’s a possibility, and when you start researching it too, it’s kind of shocking how much is already there.
Q: Are you very into technology?
A: Yeah, I am, I love technology, and so it was kind of cool to see how they designed the phones and stuff, but that’s the only thing that really changed a lot in the film, just the technology, everything else was very similar.
Q: What’s your favourite gadget in your life?
A: Outside of my IPhone? (Laughter) I love computers, because I am into music and stuff as well, so sit me in front of a nice Mac Pro and Logic audio, and a microphone and a preamp, some headphones…
Q: Are you composing on the computer?
A: Yeah. I work with producers and I work with musicians, but I am mostly a vocalist and I write lyrics, and also compose a little bit, I play a little bit of piano and other instruments, but mostly I will work with people and bring things together, or I will get a producer who has made an amazing beat and take that and write to that. It’s pretty serious, I have made music ever since I was a teenager. And when I was a kid I wanted to be a musician or a vet. A veterinarian. So I just either wanted to be on stage, playing music and making albums or helping animals.
Q: Do you have a bunch of animals?
A: I do, I have four rescue cats and I have a puppy dog who I also rescued and I have a parakeet.
Q: Did you rescue the parakeet?
A: No, (laughs) I didn’t rescue him. I bought him from a pet store, and he was in his cage for about a year before I got him and that suckered me in.
Q: It sounds like a noisy house...
A: No, it’s actually pretty quiet. (laughs) The parakeet is noisy when I come home and when I go, or if he really wants to get out of his cage, but apart from that, he’s pretty cool. His name is Hendrix, so he’s allowed to make a few screams. (laughter)
Q: So where are you in that moral dilemma between machines and humans?
A: I am by nature much more about natural man and all that sort of stuff, but I do like technology but I don’t have any interest in the idea, robots running around doing our jobs for us, so I am not into violence, I am not into war, it’s just not my thing.
Q: So what do you like doing when you are not making music or working?
A: I love animals obviously, I like the outdoors, I like to do a lot of things, like I like making films and taking photographs, and all the painting, my mom is a painter and I grew up with that, so anything sort of creative, and in the art world, I just love. And I like reading, I was never a big reader as a kid, but just slightly, the last few years, I really love reading.
Q: So you don’t sort of sit on the couch with the remote and veg?
A: No, really rare. I like watching movies, but I won’t put on the telly, because there are so many other things to do around me.
(c) America Reads Spanish
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