British actress Gemma Arterton has told 'The Observer' newspaper that she loved tracking down her character's wardrobe for Neil Jordan's new film 'Byzantium' in Soho sex shops.
"We wanted the clothing that she wore to be part of her kit, part of her killing kit, so everything was very conscious. The costume designer, Consolata Boyle, is very put together and sensible and it was fun going to these shops with her and her looking at the fabric quality and the seams. These clothes were so disgusting, but she'd go: "Ooh, it's very beautiful, this colour."
In the film, Arterton, 27, plays a 200-year-old vampire who tries to protect her daughter (Saoirse Ronan) from the all-male cabal that wants to hunt them down.
She describes the film as a "neo-feminist vampire movie". "Moira Buffini, the writer, is a real feminist and that's how she proposed it to me. There's this massive contradiction in the film in that my character, Clara, is a woman who sells her body and also ends up killing people she doesn't think are worthy of this world, such as pimps and rapists. So she uses her sexuality to do that.
"Moira used this line and I loved it: she said: 'It's more f*** you than f*** me.' But it's more complicated than that, because it's about what it is to be a single parent, and how hard that is and how brilliant you have to be as a person to get through it for 200 years."
She worked out a lot for the role. "I wanted to make it believable that Clara could kill somebody and overwhelm someone. So many times, I see films where the woman is too feeble and I don't believe it. I wanted her to be dangerous and lethal. There's nothing worse than when you see a woman killing a guy and you think, yeah, you'd probably snap if they pushed you over."
Arterton was brought up by a single mother herself. "Both Clara and my mother are parents who seem younger than their daughters in many senses. Our house was like a softer version of 'Absolutely Fabulous' at times – this complicated mother-daughter relationship in which sometimes the daughter is the mother."
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Arterton says she is only working with female directors this year and is starting her own production company "so that I can be a little more instrumental in the whole process. You need to take it into your own hands and create parts for women, and for female writers and directors. Otherwise, the process can be quite frustrating."
She is currently shooting 'The Voices' in Berlin, directed by graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi ('Persepolis'), which she describes as like "'Psycho' meets 'Fargo.' I've never had such a good feeling with a director – she's incredible and I'm really happy because I know we're making good stuff."
Byzantium is released on 31 May.