Mary Elizabeth Winstead on protecting her private life and why Die Hard is definitely a Christmas film.
Twenty years ago, you were on the supernatural soap opera Passions. Despite ending in 2008, the show still has a huge cult
following. I remember having no idea what I was getting into. They didn’t give us the script when we signed on to it. I was 14 years old and it was my first time out in LA. I got the part, and started getting all these scripts and all of a sudden, there was a doll that came to life and my basement was hell and there were witches. I was like, “Wait a second, what is this?” Ultimately, I was so grateful for the experience, but I was like, “OK, this isn’t really what I had in mind.” In part three of the horror franchise
Final Destination, you play a student who has a brutal vision of dying on a rollercoaster. Have people told you that you’ve ruined rollercoasters for them? [Laughs.] I’ve been told that by a few people. I tell them not to worry as the odds of anything happening are super slim. Your new film, Gemini Man, is directed by Ang Lee and also stars Will Smith. I loved the process of getting to know Ang. It’s like having a father that puts pressure on you, but at the same time you know it’s all for the best. I really wanted to make him proud. And Will is such a force of positivity. I know that’s what everybody says about him, but when you work with him you find that it’s completely true. The movie is about an assassin who is being hunted down by someone who looks like them, but 20 years younger. If your younger self came after you [Winstead is 34], do you think you’d win? Absolutely. My younger self just didn’t know anything about anything. I’d like to think I know a thing or two now. I might not be the strongest person or the smartest person in the world, but I’m stronger and smarter than I was when I was 22.
Trying to maintain relationships when you are in the public eye can be very difficult [Winstead is dating actor Ewan Mcgregor]. How do you navigate
this? I just try to keep a low profile and stay really private. I have no interest in sharing my personal life with anyone. I don’t think I should have to in order to do what I do. If by not sharing my personal life with people, if that affects my career negatively, then I’m totally fine with that. It’s not something I’m willing to give up for the sake of more film and TV projects. I’m just keeping my head down and trying to do good work.
Along with its predominantly female cast, your upcoming film Birds Of Prey is directed, written and produced by women. Is this why you wanted the
role? That was definitely one of the things that drew me to it the most. It’s a femaleled movie in almost all departments and, for the genre, is pretty unprecedented. Obviously we’ve got the amazing Patty Jenkins [who directed Wonder Woman], but I think this kicks it up another level in terms of female energy involved.
You played John Mcclane’s daughter in the Die Hard sequels in 2007 and 2013. So, settle the debate once and for all: is Die Hard a Christmas film? I do think it’s a Christmas film! It’s nice to have a movie that’s not super Christmas-themed, but still gives you that Christmassy feeling.
Gemini Man is in cinemas from October 10.
“My privacy is not something I’m willing to give up for more film projects”