A life less or­di­nary

Play­ing a frus­trated house­wife in a dys­func­tional home is a far cry from Carey Mul­li­gan’s hap­pily mar­ried life of kids, long walks and warm fires, she tells Michele Manelis

Herald Sun - Hit - - COVER STORY -

DE­SPITE be­ing mar­ried to one, Carey Mul­li­gan in­sists she’d never lived a rock star life.

The Os­car-nom­i­nated Bri­tish ac­tor wed fel­low Brit Mar­cus Mum­ford, lead singer of the Grammy-win­ning folk-rock band Mum­ford & Sons, six years ago and the pair are rais­ing their daugh­ter, Eve­lyn, 3, and son, Wil­fred, 1, in Lon­don.

In Mul­li­gan’s new film, Wildlife, she plays Jeanette, an un­happy, re­sent­ful 1960s house­wife who makes some ques­tion­able and ir­re­versible choices that shat­ter her fam­ily. In short, she ex­pe­ri­ences a wild life of her own. But Mul­li­gan in­sists she prefers the sim­ple plea­sures to the celebrity glare and A-list trap­pings.

“I’ve never had a wild life,” says Mul­li­gan. “I started work­ing when I was 18 and I just kept go­ing. I think I’d been an idiot and cut loose when I was a teenager but I’ve never been re­bel­lious,” she says.

“I know that’s pretty bor­ing but I never had one. My wild life is more to do with coun­try walks and warm crack­ling fires,” she laughs. “Not re­ally sort of this ter­ri­tory.”

She does, how­ever, marvel at just how far she’s come since her ac­claimed break­through per­for­mance in the 2009 drama, An Ed­u­ca­tion, which she fol­lowed up with com­pelling roles in Never Let Me Go, Shame, Drive and Baz Luhrmann’s Syd­ney-shot The Great Gatsby.

“Some­times I say to my­self, ‘My God. I’m 33 and I have two kids and I’m mar­ried. How did I sud­denly be­come a grown-up?’,” she says with a smile.

“I think that is what Jeanette is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing but it strikes fear into her heart that all the pos­si­bil­i­ties laid be­fore her and all of these peo­ple she could have been are now gone.

“She is just a wife and a mother who has lost her iden­tity.

“It’s that feel­ing you have when you hear a song you knew when you were 21 and you hear it again in the here and now and you can’t be­lieve how much of


your life has gone and where you are.”

Set in ru­ral Mon­tana in 1960, Mul­li­gan’s Jeanette is a woman dis­sat­is­fied with her lot in life and her per­pet­u­ally un­em­ployed hus­band Jerry (Jake Gyl­len­haal). Theirs is a mar­riage of ten­sion and dys­func­tion which bla­tantly un­rav­els in front of their 14year-old son, Joe, played by Melbourne-born Ed Ox­en­bould (The Visit, Pa­per Planes).

A dis­turb­ing yet com­pelling take on the dis­in­te­gra­tion of a fam­ily, it’s as much a com­ing-ofage story as it is about fem­i­nist plight at a time when the Women’s Lib­er­a­tion move­ment had just emerged. Women asked them­selves, ‘Is this all there is?’ and Jeanette ex­em­pli­fies that angst. Mul­li­gan says she was thrilled to play against type in the drama that also marks ac­tor Paul Dano’s di­rec­to­rial de­but.

“This role wasn’t like any­thing I’d done be­fore, which is why I wanted to do it,” she says.

“I’ve loved play­ing hero­ines, even if they were pas­sive but al­ways had a noble cause and a re­ally strong moral back­ground.

“They were do­ing the right thing. But what I like in this film is that she was do­ing the wrong thing. She didn’t have a plan and life was go­ing hay­wire.” Mul­li­gan gri­maces then smiles. “It was a fun thing to ex­plore.”

Dano, whose act­ing skills have been crit­i­cally lauded in Lit­tle Miss Sun­shine, There Will Be Blood, 12 Years a Slave and Love & Mercy, co-wrote the script with long­time girl­friend and ac­tress Zoe Kazan (The Big Sick). Says Mul­li­gan: “Paul and I have been friends for a re­ally long time. We’ve known each other for 10, 11 years. And Zoe and I did a play to­gether when we were 21, so we have all known each other for­ever. It was so nice. He’s a friend and he’s also a bril­liant ac­tor so he un­der­stands act­ing very well,” she says. “And as far as di­rect­ing, I just knew he’d be good at it. And he was just bril­liant.”

Ox­en­bould has also gar­nered pos­i­tive re­views for his nu­anced per­for­mance as the sen­si­tive and in­tel­li­gent son.

“It didn’t feel like we were work­ing with a child ac­tor,” Mul­li­gan says of the ris­ing Aussie star. “He was 15 at the time and he was bril­liant and re­ally easy to work with so we formed this lit­tle fam­ily quickly.”

In con­trast to Jeanette, who yearns to be any­where other than where she is, the happy and re­laxed Mul­li­gan wouldn’t change a thing about her life.

“I had such a lucky start to my ca­reer, which I didn’t imag­ine I would have, and I am very hap­pily mar­ried. So I’ve never wanted out of that stuff. To be hon­est, I am still kind of amazed that I am in it.”

SEE WILDLIFE opens to­mor­row at ex­clu­sively at Cin­ema Nova


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