Emily Browning

We felt the un­co­or­di­nated urge to salute and hug Emily Browning at the same time, but we man­aged not to poke an eye out while talk­ing about her new film, Leg­end.

YEN - - CONTENTS - WORDS JANA ROOSE PHOTO GETTY IM­AGES Leg­end is in cine­mas from 15 Oc­to­ber, 2015.

If you ever meet some­one from Los An­ge­les who says they love the Bri­tish ac­tress Emily Browning, be sure to say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” and cor­rect them im­me­di­ately. The 26-year-old Aussie grew up in Mel­bourne and has the Blue

Heel­ers IMDB list­ing to prove it, but Amer­i­cans find it hard to de­tect. “Peo­ple hear my ac­cent and as­sume that I’m English,” Browning says. “I don’t know what that says, I still think I sound very Aus­tralian, but per­haps Amer­i­cans can’t tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween the two.” That’s pos­si­ble, but it might also be be­cause Browning says things like ‘per­haps’ and refers to Lil Wayne as ‘Lit­tle’ Wayne. Yep, she’s a tiny smidge well spo­ken. We’re talk­ing about her most gang­ster at­tribute be­cause 19 cred­its above Blue Heel­ers on her IMDB re­sume – up past Lemony Snicket’s A Se­ries

of Un­for­tu­nate Events and Sucker Punch – is Leg­end, the new mob film about the Kray twins who ruled the Lon­don un­der­ground in the 1960s. So what’s the most badass thing about Browning? “I have a very im­pres­sive… what’s the word I would use – back cat­a­logue of hip-hop lyrics in my head,” she says. “There are a bunch of Drake and Lit­tle Wayne songs and Nicki Mi­naj is the most fun to sing along to be­cause she’s so fast. I read some­thing that says when you sing along to song lyrics that you know, and I think the more chal­leng­ing they are to sing, it fires off some chem­i­cal re­sponse in your brain or re­leases dopamine and it makes you happy, es­sen­tially, so I won­der if that’s why if I’m feel­ing bummed out I’ll pump Nicki Mi­naj in the car and you al­ways feel sat­is­fied with your­self when you can sing along to all the words when she’s rap­ping re­ally fast.”

In Leg­end, Browning de­liv­ers a dif­fer­ent beat play­ing the frag­ile Frances Shea, wife of Reg­gie Kray who, along­side his un­hinged brother Ron­nie, nav­i­gates turf wars, bar brawls and gang mutiny in Lon­don’s East End. Glossy and vi­o­lent, it pro­vides not once but twice the Tom Hardy as he takes on the role of both Reg­gie and Ron­nie Kray. Writer-di­rec­tor Brian Hel­ge­land fought for Browning to play Frances from the start, but it was Tom Hardy who needed con­vinc­ing. “I think he was a lit­tle scep­ti­cal,” says Browning. “I think he was like, ‘I don’t know who this per­son is,’ and I was asked to go to Lon­don to read with him and my first re­sponse was, ‘No. No, I’m ter­ri­fied. Some­one else can have it, I don’t want to do it’,” she laughs. “I’m a huge fan of Tom’s work and I thought it’d be far too in­tim­i­dat­ing for me, but I put on my big girl pants and went over there. I was meant to read a cou­ple of scenes with Tom and ended up chat­ting to him for three hours, and by the end of the con­ver­sa­tion he was like, ‘Oh you don’t need to read, we’re fine. It’s all go­ing to work out.’ So that was a big re­lief.” Browning isn’t pre­cious about the fact she had to take part in Tom Hardy try-outs, in fact she’s in­cred­i­bly grounded, quick to crack a joke, has an In­sta­gram ac­count that makes you want to braid her a best friend bracelet, and isn’t so far gone into Hol­ly­wood that she’s for­got­ten home. “What re­ally kind of hurts in my gut is how much I miss my fam­ily. I’ve got­ten used to LA, I used to hate it so much, but in the last few years I’ve kind of found my tribe here.” Things could have been very dif­fer­ent for Browning; she was Stephanie Meyer’s first choice to play Bella Swan in the

Twi­light se­ries, but she passed on the role and in­stead took a break from act­ing to fin­ish high school back home.

When she re­turned to LA, it meant wad­ing back into the icy wa­ters of Hol­ly­wood, and in par­tic­u­lar she strug­gled with the ex­pec­ta­tion to look the way the in­dus­try de­manded. Luck­ily, the longer she stayed in the wa­ter the less she felt the cold. “This weird thing hap­pened to me last year where all of a sud­den I just didn’t give a shit any­more. And it was in­vig­o­rat­ing,” says Browning. “The way that women are ex­pected to present them­selves is ex­haust­ing and it can be in­cred­i­bly painful for some peo­ple and it was in­cred­i­bly painful for me for a long time, un­til one day I went, ‘Oh wait, life is huge. I have bet­ter things to think about.’ It was an amaz­ing mo­ment, and I have the deep­est com­pas­sion for peo­ple who still are plagued by those feel­ings and I don’t nec­es­sar­ily have any ad­vice to give be­cause for me it was hon­estly a light­ning bolt mo­ment of, ‘I’m go­ing to die one day, and when I’m on my deathbed, I’m not go­ing to give a shit what my body looked like, it’s go­ing to be com­pletely ir­rel­e­vant so I need to stop car­ing.’ It’s not like I feel fan­tas­tic all the time, I still have my mo­ments like ev­ery­one does, but it’s more about de­tach­ing from that, be­ing able to go, ‘I’m healthy, my body works, and there’s a lot of re­ally cool things I can do.’ I’m more in­ter­ested in think­ing about what’s go­ing on in my brain, as op­posed to how skinny my legs look.”

When Browning lifts her arm she has a scroll of words tat­tooed on the in­side that reads ‘a blessed un­rest that keeps us march­ing’, a line that chore­og­ra­pher Martha Graham wrote to dancer and chore­og­ra­pher Agnes de Mille when de Mille was strug­gling with the weight of ex­pec­ta­tion. The let­ter en­cour­aged her to fol­low her artis­tic urges and never com­pare her­self to any­one else; to come as you are and cre­ate purely. Browning is spurred by that blessed un­rest, and if her march is to the tune of Nicki Mi­naj’s ‘Su­per Bass’, more power to her.

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