It was Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s performance in Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse: Death Proof with Kurt Russell and Rosario Dawson that caught director Edgar Wrights’ attention when he was looking for an actress to portray Ramona in the new comedy fantasy Scott Pilgrim vs the World.
In the film, Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), a 22-year-old bass guitarist for the garage band Sex Bob-Omb, literally dreams of having the mysterious Ramona Flowers as his girlfriend – when his wish comes true, it’s coupled with the fact that her seven jealous exes are now coming to kill him.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead spoke with us about the movie, and her upcoming film, a prequel to the horror classic The Thing.
Did you have to audition for the role of Ramona?
Ironically enough it was offered to me, which is ridiculous. I don’t know how that happened. That’s very rarely happened to me in the past even for small little supporting roles in small films I’d have to go in five times and then not get the part.
I certainly was shocked that a film like this would be offered to me but I think it’s a testament to Edgar’s imagination, the fact that he saw me in Death Proof and he said ‘That’s Ramona’. He knew it because he trusts his gut enough to know that I could pull it off so it’s all thanks to him.
What was the most challenging aspect of playing her?
Ramona really rides that fine line of being likeable and unlikable and doesn’t really show her emotions. So, how do you like a person who is that guarded and who never smiles? It was certainly worrisome to me, on some level, that there would be an audience who would be like ‘What’s her appeal?’ So, I felt like I really had to bring some humanity to her and I had to really show that there was some attraction and love when she looks at Scott.
In our whole love scene sequence, it was really important to me that we really connected on that and that that really worked. I was really happy the day that we shot that because I really felt that I could see my character falling for Scott in that moment and I could feel it all being so real.
Do have any evil exes who reappeared to complicate your life or give the current boyfriend problems?
Oh, I’ve had a couple of pestering, past individuals who’ve kind of come around. Certainly no fist fights or anything like that but little annoyances here and there I would say.
Did you like your look in the film?
I loved the way that it helped me become a different person. That was the thing I really loved about it. I didn’t really take anything from Ramona’s wardrobe because I couldn’t really imagine actually using any of it in my own life because I’m so different from Ramona in the way that I look and dress but it was fantastic as far as getting into character. It made a huge difference for me.
What was it like working with Edgar Wright and his particular filming style?
It was fun. It was challenging. He has a way of bringing out the best in you and raising the bar of the level of what you think you can do without being much of a taskmaster or being too hardcore about it. He brings a really passionate, fun energy to set and he lives and breathes the film that he’s working on. In fact, I don’t think he’s slept since he started preproduction on the film…
He’ll go sleep for about three months I think, once this is done being promoted. But to see that kind of dedication and hard work, I think, made all of us go ‘Okay. We’ve got to really step it up and we’ve got to do whatever we can to be the best that we can in this film because we’ve got a director who’s not going to settle for anything less.’ So, I think we all just really wanted to make him happy.
Can you talk a little bit about being in The Thing? Was that awesome?
Yeah. It was pretty awesome. I just wrapped it two or three weeks ago. I’m so excited about it. I think everyone involved was really passionate about making it a really great film for the fans of the John Carpenter version and also for people who have no idea.
It was really focused on performance and the intensity and the paranoia and suspense and also really awesome animatronic and puppeteering work and special effects in it.
Who do you play?
I am a scientist.
I don’t think there was a woman [in the Carpenter version] There was one who was more just eye candy in the original 1950’s version.
Yeah, they’re bringing a female into the mix and it’s interesting because it shakes up the dynamic a little bit. I think it’s a good way of separating it because it’s not a re-make, it’s a prequel so it’s a completely different group of people. You’re not trying to recreate the same characters that were in the John Carpenter version. We’re trying to bring in new ones.
Having a female there brings a new dynamic and makes it its own story. The way they interact is completely different having a girl in the middle of all of that.
I’m sure you’re a strong girl, though.
Oh yeah, I kick all sorts of alien butt!