‘Peo­ple have been re­fer­ring to me as Bono’s daugh­ter my en­tire life. I can’t lose sleep over it’

Irish Independent - Weekend Magazine - - Interview -

Eve Hew­son is step­ping out of the shadow of her fa­mous fa­ther with three high-pro­file roles this year. The 28-year-old talks to Shilpa Gana­tra about lock­ing down with her fam­ily in Dublin, her search for an Ir­ish boyfriend and how the #MeToo move­ment changed her mind about giv­ing up act­ing

Eve Hew­son is a few min­utes late for our Zoom call, and full of apolo­gies be­cause of it. She ex­plains she got the tim­ings mixed up, and only re­alised dur­ing the fam­ily lunch. It’s eas­ily for­given, es­pe­cially as it’s rare for the Hew­son clan to be in Dublin at the same time. In less pan­demicy times, her job as an ac­tor whisks her away from ev­ery­day life for weeks at a time; her older sis­ter Jordan re­sides near her in Brook­lyn, New York, and her fa­ther… well, he could be any­where in the world, given that he’s Bono. For lock­down, the Hew­sons re­turned from the four cor­ners to the fam­ily home in Killiney. Eve is us­ing it as a time for re­con­nec­tion — es­pe­cially as she left Dublin 10 years ago, when her younger broth­ers weren’t even teenagers — and rest.

“I’ve been sleep­ing like a ma­niac. I think I’ve ba­si­cally slept through half of the en­tire pan­demic,” she says in her New York­toned ac­cent. “I’m gen­uinely en­joy­ing it, be­cause when I’m film­ing, I have to get up at like 4am.”

In wak­ing hours, “we’ve been do­ing a lot of cook­ing, drink­ing, smok­ing too many cig­a­rettes, and all the things that we shouldn’t be do­ing. Then try­ing to reverse all of that by drink­ing green juices. It’s ac­tu­ally been quite a good time.”

The Dublin in­ter­lude is much needed af­ter a hec­tic 18 months. Fol­low­ing the rule of thumb that trends can be iden­ti­fied by three in­stances, Eve filmed a trio of projects that fore­tell a leap in pro­file this year: Tesla (a biopic about the in­ven­tor Elon Musk, star­ring Ethan Hawke) and Net­flix minis­eries Be­hind Her Eyes (from the team who pro­duced The Crown), and The Lu­mi­nar­ies, based on Eleanor Cat­ton’s Booker Prize-win­ning novel. Cur­rently on BBC One, it’s the first to be un­veiled, and her first ma­jor lead role, which meant lit­tle down­time through­out the six-month shoot in New Zealand.

“I’d played the lead in a four-week shoot for an in­die movie called Pa­per Year a few years ago, so I re­mem­bered how ex­haust­ing it was. So go­ing into this, I was re­ally pre­pared to go hard or go home. I ba­si­cally went from scene to scene ev­ery sin­gle day for six months and then at the end of it, I col­lapsed. I ac­tu­ally had my friends come meet me in Hawaii on the on my way home and we spent a few days just hang­ing out on the beach. Hawaii got me through, es­pe­cially with the re­ally hard scenes that are very emo­tion­ally dis­turb­ing,” she says. “As soon as I de­cided that I was go­ing to Hawaii, a make-up girl printed out a pic­ture of it for me and I stuck it in my trailer. So ev­ery day, if I had to do a hard scene, I’d be like ‘okay, but countdown to Hawaii in three months’.”

Later, I scroll through her In­sta­gram in search of a post of this cel­e­bra­tory hol­i­day. But in-be­tween the snap­shots of her life, which range from high-fash­ion pho­to­shoots for Chanel to her re­cent pres­ence at the Black Lives Mat­ter protests out­side the US Em­bassy, there’s no men­tion of the trip to her 89,000 fol­low­ers. It’s not a to­tal sur­prise, given that the need for pri­vacy must have been in­stilled in her from a young age, but it’s a move to re­spect in this ‘pics or it didn’t hap­pen’ world of ours.

When I bring up her at­ten­dance at the rally, she’s un­equiv­o­cal about her sup­port. “Of course I joined the protest,” she says. “I sup­port Black Lives Mat­ter be­cause I be­lieve black lives mat­ter. I think it’s so im­por­tant for more white peo­ple to vo­calise this. We’re see­ing that hap­pen across the world now, and it’s a beau­ti­ful thing to watch. I think for so long, peo­ple have been scared to speak out or say the wrong thing, but there’s some­thing about this particular mo­ment in the move­ment that has re­ally opened up a con­ver­sa­tion that has been long over­due. I was re­ally proud to be there and see so many Ir­ish peo­ple show up and sup­port it.”

Aged 19 to 31, all but the youngest of the four Hew­son chil­dren have now stepped into pub­lic life and, ev­i­dently, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the (Joshua) tree. Jordan, the el­dest, earned a cov­eted place in Forbes’ 30 un­der 30 list last year thanks to her tech com­pany’s Ac­tion But­ton, which makes ac­tivism eas­ier in the dig­i­tal age. Younger brother Elijah, 20, is front­man of rock band In­haler, who were in­cluded in the BBC Sound of 2020 poll. And with The Lu­mi­nar­ies, Mem­phis Eve Hew­son, who turns 29 on Tues­day, is at a turn­ing point in her per­form­ing ca­reer.

“My dad couldn’t be more thrilled for me. Be­tween us, he thinks he’s the Ir­ish Kris Jenner,” she says, laugh­ing. “We’re go­ing to bring out a line of lip kits any day now.”

Fam­ily val­ues:

Eve ( right) with her mother Ali, fa­ther and U2 front­man Bono and sis­ter Jordan; ( be­low) with her Tesla co-stars Jim Gaf­fi­gan, Ethan Hawke, Re­becca Dayan and Ryan MacLach­lan fi­cial busi­ness in some ways. I think a lot of it sends the wrong mes­sage,” she says. “You have to be very care­ful about the way that you rep­re­sent [women], es­pe­cially to do with sex­u­al­ity, and what’s deemed sexy in Hol­ly­wood. If they’re go­ing to de­cide, ‘okay, this girl is the love in­ter­est, and this is what she should wear’, it can’t be just mid­dle-aged men de­cid­ing that. There has to be women in­volved in the con­ver­sa­tion too. Be­cause then we are just pitch­ing only one idea to young teenagers, and it has to be more di­verse than that.”

An ex­am­ple crops up later when we’re rav­ing about Nor­mal Peo­ple — she notes the sub­tlety of a scene in which Paul Mescal walks with his hands in his pock­ets “and you see his bum in those school trousers. There’s some­thing fa­mil­iar about that. It feels filmed with a fe­male gaze”.

As to the inevitable re­jec­tions, Eve has her head firmly on her shoul­ders. “I’ve learned with au­di­tions that you pre­pare, show up, do your job, and then the minute you leave, just let it go. The more au­di­tions you do, the more re­jec­tions you get, so you build up a thicker skin, and it’s eas­ier. You just be­come a cyn­i­cal old lady,” she says, laugh­ing.

“But I think com­pe­ti­tion and fail­ure is healthy and nec­es­sary, for any ac­tor, artist, writer, direc­tor. That can gen­uinely feed you. I’m ob­sessed with the Michael Jordan doc­u­men­tary The Last Dance. In it, he talks about how his dad told him al­ways turn the neg­a­tive into a pos­i­tive. If he had a bad game, or if they didn’t win, that would feed him so that in the next game, he would come back and smash the floor. I watched it agree­ing that’s ex­actly how you have to think about fail­ure. You might do a movie and it might not do well, or no­body thinks it’s good, or peo­ple just don’t see it be­cause of the dis­tri­bu­tion. You just have to take those blows and try and turn them into some­thing pos­i­tive.”

As it was, she did con­sider ditch­ing the ca­reer, but it wasn’t for the rea­sons her par­ents feared. It ended up be­ing Hol­ly­wood’s gen­der im­bal­ance that made act­ing too restrictiv­e. “Be­fore I took this job, I had a com­plete ex­is­ten­tial cri­sis,” she says. “I was go­ing through that pe­riod in your 20s where you start to ques­tion ev­ery­thing, and I didn’t like act­ing any­more. I was be­com­ing aware of the way women are pi­geon-holed in our in­dus­try, and how women are rep­re­sented on film.”

She re­counts meet­ing a top stu­dio ex­ec­u­tive and ask­ing how many women were on the board. He had to be re­minded that they had one, which spoke volumes about how val­ued she was.

“That kind of stuff re­ally started to bother me. I started to think I don’t know if I want to be a part of it, or sub­ject my­self to that kind of in­equal­ity.”

In the nick of time, the #MeToo move­ment started to gain mo­men­tum. “All these women were com­ing out and

books, watch­ing films, and read­ing scripts, in a pre­lim­i­nary ef­fort into be­com­ing more in­volved be­hind the scenes, ei­ther as a pro­ducer or direc­tor. “I’m feel­ing that burn, def­i­nitely,” she says. “I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m a mas­sive con­trol freak. I felt for a long time it prob­a­bly wasn’t a good idea to di­rect be­cause I’m such a con­trol freak that it would prob­a­bly be dan­ger­ous — like feed­ing the beast. But now I’ve been on so many sets and I’ve learned so much from many dif­fer­ent direc­tors. I’m feel­ing more ca­pa­ble that is some­thing I should do and want to do. I have no spe­cific plans, but I’m def­i­nitely open to that.”

I ask Eve if she has a han­ker­ing to work with any­one in particular, and it takes pre­cisely no sec­onds for her to an­swer that it’s Alec Bald­win, of 30 Rock and Satur­day Night Live.

“He is a ge­nius. I would like to act with him and I’ve al­ways said that. I want to put it out into the uni­verse. I think he’s just fan­tas­tic.”

Has she met him?

“I’ve never met him. I don’t know what I would do,” she says, as if gen­uinely stumped. “I love his pod­casts. I just love the sound of his voice. Oh, and you know who I love? Goldie Hawn. I was just watch­ing Pri­vate Ben­jamin the other day, and then me and my sis­ter watched The First Wives Club. She brings me so much joy.”

But for the next while, it’s all about let­ting her forth­com­ing projects loose into the world, a flurry that feels like the next phase in her as­cent. The Lu­mi­nar­ies is half­way through and will re­ceive a US re­lease in au­tumn. Tesla is due in cin­e­mas in Au­gust and Be­hind Her Eyes, based on Sarah Pin­bor­ough’s novel, is nearly ready to go, though re­lease dates are to be con­firmed as coron­avirus im­pacts sched­ules across the world.

Af­ter that, “it’s a mat­ter of when­ever we can start shoot­ing again. Once peo­ple fig­ure out what the protocol is and if it’s safe to go back to work, there are a few things that I’m look­ing at that would be won­der­ful to be a part of. But ev­ery­thing is so up in the air that we just have to be pa­tient. No stu­dio or pro­duc­tion com­pany wants to en­dan­ger any­body, or be re­spon­si­ble for any­one get­ting sick”.

If all goes to plan, there may be a project to keep her this side of the At­lantic. Is this taste of home is enough to tempt her back per­ma­nently?

“If I found a nice Ir­ish boy, I cer­tainly would,” she says, wickedly. No bet­ter ad­ver­tise­ment than in a news­pa­per, I sug­gest.

“Great, you can change the head­line to ‘Are You Sin­gle? Eve Hew­son Look­ing for Boyfriend. Prefer­ably Ir­ish’,” she says, laugh­ing. “No I’m just kid­ding. I think I would [move back], es­pe­cially be­cause my favourite peo­ple live here. It’s kind of tricky, be­ing an ac­tor. I say I live in New York, but I don’t re­ally — I’m al­ways away wher­ever the job is. So where do I put down my roots? I guess I’ll have to tackle that when the time comes.”

For now, it’s a case of see­ing how the pan­demic sit­u­a­tion plays out… and deal­ing with the in­flux of suit­ors from the call-out. Form an or­derly, so­cially-dis­tanced queue, lads.

The Lu­mi­nar­ies con­tin­ues on BBC One to­mor­row night

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