AGNES BRUCKNER on 'BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE' Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for Radio Free Entertainment
January 22, 2007
The traditional story of Romeo and Juliet takes a lycanthropic twist in Blood and Chocolate, the tale of a lupine shapeshifter named Vivian (Agnes Bruckner) who falls in love with a human (Hugh Dancy) despite being betrothed to Gabriel (Olivier Martinez), the strict and stringent alpha male of the pack who puts his species' long-standing laws above all else. Outraged by Vivian's straying from their rules and risking the pack to exposure to mankind, Gabriel moves to eliminate her new romantic interest.
Agnes Bruckner has starred in several films of the horror/thriller persuasion, including Venom, The Woods, Last Resort, and Murder by Numbers. In this extensive, exclusive "get to know you" interview, she speaks with us about Blood and Chocolate, as well as her career and some of her personal inclinations--from her favorite character in The Craft to her addiction to artificial sweets, she generously opens up about herself.
RadioFree.com: So many actresses move to Hollywood to pursue a career, but you were actually born there. Have you lived here in Los Angeles county for most of your life?
AGNES: Yeah. I was born here and we lived pretty much in the Valley most of the time. I grew up, though, in like the Los Feliz area, and then we moved to the Valley, into Burbank. And I did live in Portland, Oregon for about five years, from when I was like 5 to 10, and then we came back down here to pursue the acting thing.
Did you get into acting just because you were so close to it, or did you always have a desire to perform?
No, my mom actually put me into it first. She put me into modeling when I was about 8. And so I did that when I was little. And then one of her friend's daughters was in the business in some way, and so she decided to put me into it. And we started going on auditions, and then I entered this IMTA competition that happens like, I think, once a year, and it's downtown...And I did that. I believe I was like ten and a half. And I won like the all-around prize and got my manager, who I'm still with today.
Yeah. [laughs] And it kind of just started from there. And then I really decided I wanted to do it when I did a movie called Blue Car, and I was 15 at the time. Up until then, it was just kind of like, "My mom wants me to do this! My mom wants me to do this!" But after doing Blue Car, I kind of took over and really fell in love with it.
Was working on a drama like Blue Car more taxing than doing a fun horror film?
I have fun on every set no matter what, but I think when it comes to something like Blue Car, it's very emotionally draining, more than anything. At least with me, I take so much of my personal life and personal things that I've gone through in my past and put it into my character. And when it's a drama like that, you're emotional all day, and you do that for a month. And it's just like craziness afterwards. You're kind of like, "Wow, I did not know I could cry that much." And when you do a movie like Blood and Chocolate...You still use your emotions, but there's also action, and there's also running and just different things. It's more of a physical pain than it is emotional. [laughs] So that'd be the biggest difference. But I've enjoyed both. And doing Blood and Chocolate was definitely much more physically draining than anything.
Did you have any emotional investment in Vivian, as you did with your Blue Car character Meg?
Yeah, definitely. There was definitely the whole struggle that she deals with of keeping a secret, and falling in love and it not being okay, and having those family kind of issues to deal with. There was definitely a lot that I invested in Vivian as well. But it's just become so much more easier to me to use my personal life, and still separate my work and my personal life.
You mentioned earlier that you enjoy werewolf and vampire films. What are some of your favorites?
I actually really like Wolf, with Jack Nicholson--pretty much anything Jack Nicholson does, I'm a fan of. And I really enjoyed the Underworlds.
You also mentioned being a fan of the movie The Craft, starring Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Robin Tunney, and Rachel True. Did you attach yourself to one of the characters in particular?
Yeah. I liked, of course, the good girl...I definitely liked [Robin Tunney's] character a lot, because she had these powers, but she didn't use them all the time, and she didn't use them just for bad. But also [Fairuza Balk]...Her character was definitely very cool, too, especially just to watch, because she was just psycho. And I thought the special effects were pretty cool in that movie, and that was a long time ago.
Director Katja von Garnier said she was going for a "Romeo and Juliet with wolves" kind of thing with Blood and Chocolate. Did you get that vibe?
Yeah, I would say that it's a bit of a Romeo and Juliet. From my point of view, the whole kind of message all put together is kind of like "love conquers all." Because how do you take a werewolf and a human and have them fall in love and survive? It's the whole loves conquers all thing that's kind of cool.
Generally, when you see people with yellow eyes, it's jaundice. But in the case of your character Vivian, it looks pretty sharp. Did you have to wear special contacts, or was it all done with special effects?
They had us wear contacts. But then, I think they added the whole shine to the eyes and that kind of stuff in special effects. But we did have to get fitted and have contacts put in when we did it, which, thankfully, wasn't that much, because when you have those things in, it's like you have tunnel vision, and it's really awful. So especially during the action stuff, we tried to keep it out of our eyes, just because when you have them, you can't really see anything. So it wouldn't be that great during an action fight scene. [laughs]
Is it empowering to see yourself onscreen as a kickass character?
It is. I thought it was so cool! [laughs] Like I think there's this trailer where they show me doing this whole fight thing, and it looks so cool--like I look like this kickass chick. It's so awesome. But it's so weird, because I go back and I remember doing that and thinking, "God, I need to pull this off, because this is an important part of the movie." You do it in so many pieces that you can't imagine the final product being so good. But I saw the trailer, and it was very impressive. [says in a mock aristocratic way] "I kind of impressed myself, I must say!" [laughs]
While you were filming, did you ever think, "This is sort of awkward. There's no way it's going to end up looking fluid"?
Definitely. You have that whole way of thinking. But from what I got from the stunt guys, I'm a pretty kickass chick. So I kind of pulled it off very easily, they said. [laughs] No, but there's definitely times...I was doing this punching thing where I had to jump up off this wall and then like jump down and punch this guy. And a couple times, I did it so bad and got so embarrassed, because it really did look awful. And the stunt guys would be like, "Agnes, what is that? Come on, we taught you better than that!" And I'm like, "All right, all right, all right, I'll try again!" But yeah, you definitely don't see the outcome being as cool as I think it turned out.
In the finest tradition of werewolf movies, you have a "reverting back to human form and being naked" scene. Was that uncomfortable for you to shoot?
It was actually very scary, because I knew that that was going to be a part of the movie, and that it was an important part of the movie...So we had a bit of a battle. "How much do you want to show?" and all that kind of stuff. And I don't want to show anything! So it was really hard. And a lot of the other actors, they went like full on--just put the little pasties on and were just fine with it. But it was a very nerve-wracking day for me. And it was actually the last scene I ever shot. So it was actually closed off. And I was actually wearing a bikini, but they etched out the strings. So it was completely fine. It was like I was in a bikini on set. Which is also not the greatest thing, but I was actually in the better shape of my life during that movie, so it wasn't that bad. [laughs]
Your character Vivian works in a chocolate shop, and chocolate, obviously, serves as a metaphor in the movie. Are you a chocolate person?
I am a chocolate person. I'm an "every type of food" person, but I have a big sweet tooth. My parents, especially when I was little, have spent a lot of money on my teeth. Very big sweet tooth. Chocolate anything. But I think even more than chocolate, I'm a big artificial candy person. I like lollipops and Nerds. And anything with like "artificial" in it, I'm a fan of.
Twinkies, Ding Dongs, stuff with a shelf life of 100 years...?
Shelf life of 100 years! They always taste better. What is the deal? Yeah, I definitely love sweets and stuff like that, which is really bad.
As a food person, what do you recommend in the way of cuisine in Bucharest, Romania, where Blood and Chocolate was filmed?
Bucharest? Ooo...You know what? To be honest with you, the food was not that great in Bucharest. But the greatest thing (and this is like all over Europe) is the produce is so amazing...It's very delicious, because you could still taste like the earth in the tomatoes, as opposed to here, it's like mostly all chemically grown and chemically enhanced, and you get tomatoes the size of heads. [laughs] And there, it's just much more fresh.
(Wow, the cast of Pulse told us exactly the same thing.) You know, for the longest time, I thought we would get to interview you for The Woods, but it was never released theatrically...
I know, I was very upset about that.
How did the physicality of The Woods, Blood and Chocolate, Venom, and Last Resort all compare to each other?
The Woods, there wasn't that much physical stuff involved. Venom, there was quite a bit more. But Blood and Chocolate has been the most for me so far, just in terms of working with stunt people and actually doing the stunts, and I actually got to be in a harness and be lifted into the air, and do big fight scenes. I had like one in The Woods, but it was really quick, and it wasn't as crazy and intense as Blood and Chocolate. But yeah, Blood and Chocolate's pretty much been the most challenging one.
Even moreso than Last Resort?
As far as physically, yeah, because in Last Resort, it all takes place in one house. There was different rooms and stuff like that, but it was pretty much all in one area. And I think the boys had to do more of the physical stuff than the girls did.
So you got off a little lighter...
I did get off a little lighter, yeah! [laughs]
Have you ever checked out any of the internet fansites dedicated to you?
I think it's like the agnes-bruckner.net one...I don't know exactly how many there are or anything, but that one I've definitely checked out a couple times. A friend of mine told me about it. And it's really cool. They have like all my pictures I've ever taken, I think, in my life.
With the internet being such a speedy forum of information, have you ever gotten word from a fan about something you should have heard from more official channels?
Yes, that just happened to me! I got a message from a fan [who] said, "Congratulations for being cast as the young Jamie Lee Curtis in the new Halloween remake." And I was like, "What? I didn't know I was working again!" And I asked my agents about it, and there's no info, and, still to this day, nothing that I've heard. So it's kind of weird.
Are you a fan of the Halloween films?
Yeah, definitely a fan of those movies, and it would be something definitely I'm interested in. But it's very weird that I heard that through a fan as opposed to my agents.
Well, good luck on that prospect! Thanks very much for your time.