Dirty Girl - Juno Temple
Danielle (Juno Temple), the dirty girl of Norman High School in Norman, Oklahoma, circa 1987 © 2011 Weinstein

British actress Juno Temple began her career with memorable roles in Atonement, Notes on a Scandal and The Other Boleyn Girl.

In her new movie Dirty Girl, she plays Danielle, the dirty girl of Norman High School in Oklahoma, circa 1987. When her behavior gets her banished to a remedial class, she is paired on a parenting project with Clarke (Jeremy Dozier) a closet gay with no friends. She decides to drive to California to surprise the father she never knew, and Clarke tags along in order to avoid being sent to military school by his homophobic father.

Did you and Jeremy have an instant rapport or did it grow as you worked together?

Dirty Girl - Poster, Juno Temple
Poster featuring Danielle (Juno Temple) © 2011 Weinstein

It was an instant connection. We weren’t nervous with each other. It felt like we’d known each other for a really long time. So we’d walk on the set and you immediately felt like you had a best friend there.

It gives you an opportunity to play more because you know that person, so someone’s not going to be offended when you’re saying [something rude], because I had some pretty outrageous lines in this movie. So you’re delivering them to your best friend, and you have to say (she whispers), ‘I’m sorry, but I have to do this.’

We definitely had some insane emotional scenes to do together. Jeremy was super there for me. And it was something I really needed. Abe (Sylvia, the movie’s writer/director) was also such a papa bear. The three of us spent a lot of time together. It became like a family.

When you create that kind of bond it doesn’t normally go away. Occasionally, you make really important friends on a film and they’re going to be your friends for the rest of your life. I feel that way with both of them.

What kind of research did you do for this?

I definitely watched some movies. Freeway was a big influence for me, and it’s also one of my favorite films. I talked to Abe a lot because it’s Abe’s story and Abe’s world. That’s the most important thing really because you can do as much research as you want but talking to the director is how you’re going to get a real idea of what that world is going to be.

I think he did base it on his real life. So he knows those people much better than I could ever research it.

Did you know anyone like Danielle in school?

I went to an English boarding school, which was very different. We have our equivalents. Some people might actually include me in that category, for sure, or maybe not. People talk. So my education was very different; that was what was so appealing about this project to me too, it was a world apart from me.

It couldn’t be more different from the high school experience I had. So it was a big challenge. And it was the first time I’d ever been in an American high school when I shot this movie.

You did a great American accent, was it hard for you?

Dirty Girl - Director Abe Sylvia and Juno Temple
Director and Writer Abe Sylvia with star Juno Temple on the set © 2011 Weinstein

Thank you. I got to work with a dialect coach and it was actually very easy because the English language and southern [American] sits in the same area of the voice. I’ve always been fascinated with the south. If I had my way I would totally live in New Orleans. I love a southern accent; I think it’s dead sexy!

What would you say to a teenager who is going through similar circumstances?

Life is so much bigger than being a teenager. It’s so much bigger than that. But when you’re a teenager everything is the end of the world. When this boy doesn’t want to be with you, it’s the end of the world. When you fail at an essay, it’s the end of the world because you have to re-do it.

After you finish high school and you step into the real world, suddenly things like buying lunch is more important than that.

You’re in a bubble in your teenage years. Everyone is very judgmental when they’re teenagers. I wish human didn’t have to go through that because it really messes some people up. It seems like a lifetime.

There’s great music in this movie, how much does music get you through a tough time?

Music is important to me. I have a crazy soundtrack to my life, that’s for sure. A lot of songs in the movie I hadn’t heard. I’m a ‘90s grunge fan so I hadn’t heard a lot of the ‘80’s music but, as Danielle, when you’re in that costume and you’re doing that dance routine the music just makes you feel good.

And, singing Melissa Manchester’s power ballad [Don’t Cry Out Loud) with her playing the piano behind you, are you kidding me? I was so nervous. I had to get up there first and start weeping and then it was one of the best moments when Jeremy arrived too and I was like, ‘I’m just going to throw myself on the carpet!’

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.