Booked Out, the story of a graphic novel fanatic-cum-aspiring illustrator who falls for her elusive next door neighbour, premieres in the UK on Tuesday. Wonderland spoke to its star Mirren Burke about the role – her debut screen performance – and asks; if you could choose to be in any film past or present, what would they be?
How did you get involved in the project – what intrigued you about the role?
While I was in New York, I asked Bryan [O’Neil, director] if I could read his script, which was about 50 pages long and unfinished at the time. I loved it and got lost in the world of Booked Out and its various characters. It made me laugh out loud and intrigued me. At the time, I was portraying lots of characters from period dramas in plays, so this really was in such contrast [to past roles] that it really grabbed me. From the moment I read it, I knew that Bryan had to make this film. It was five years since he had last written anything for Booked Out and so I encouraged him to finish it. The story warms your heart and takes you on a journey. My character, Ailidh, is an art student drop-out who pursues her art and her dreams despite this. She is fun and quirky and is always doing something – she goes to life art drawing classes, is writing a graphic novel and spies on her neighbours. She seeks out Jacob (the boy next door) because he is coming and going far more than normal and she can’t ignore her curiosity any longer.
If you were to choose three films to have been in, what would they be?
This is such a cool question. First of all it would have to be Dirty Dancing – don’t laugh, but I connect with this film for so many reasons. I love the story, the themes and the relationships between the characters. I also love dancing and so it would have been fun. Gone With The Wind, because they don’t make films like this anymore! I used to watch it with my Granny Murray and so I have very fond memories of this film. Also, because I think Scarlett O’Hara would be such an amazing and fun character to play. I would love to be able to say her line: “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!” I feel that from this moment, her character is forever changed. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – because unless you’re in a Quentin Tarantino film, rarely do you see a film with such a kick ass female character! I think it could be very therapeutic to portray a character like Lisbeth Salander. She takes revenge to a whole new level. Girl, Interrupted – I am intrigued by what society deems to be sanity and insanity. Often you watch films like Girl, Interrupted, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and Twelve Monkeys and it seems like the doctors and staff are the ones that are insane. They either seem neurotic or dead inside. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s performance in “Girl, Interrupted” and “Twelve Monkeys” respectively, have the same dynamic. I love these types of characters. Can I have four films please?
What was your relationship with Bryan O’Neil like – it was his first feature length, was he nervous?
Working with Bryan was a pleasure. He is so professional, passionate and focused. Yes, it was his first film and it was mine also, therefore we had nerves for sure. Bryan was so busy organizing everything and trying to get a feature film shot in under three weeks that he probably didn’t have time to be nervous. Bryan loves film and was passionate about telling his story and revealing the characters within it. He helped create the right environment for me to work in – I trust him and felt safe in this environment. He also likes to receive input and ideas from other people. He is open and very approachable.
Was it daunting to work with Sylvia Syms – a multi-award winning actress?
I think intimidating is the most appropriate word. Sylvia is a very strong character and has worked on so many projects. Therefore, she knows what she’s doing. She is very out spoken, which I love because you know exactly where you are with her. She did a fantastic job in portraying Mrs. Nicholls. She is very professional and it was great to work with her.
Booked Out is out on the 6th March.
Words: Jack Mills