Matilda Lutz gives it her all in her leading role.
Revenge is not for the passive viewer. It’s gripping, sensory and subversive – but more than anything, it’s sadistically satisfying. The flick follows protagonist, Jen (played by the wonderful Matilda Lutz), on a romantic getaway with her boyfriend. It’s not long before the romantic atmosphere is poisoned by the arrival of his two sleazy friends. After she is a victim of sexual assault by one of them and left for dead by all three, Jen comes back with a Kill Bill style vengeance, ready to wreak havoc on the lives of the men that tried to end hers. Think The Bride, but even more badass!
Lutz is a fierce actress and undoubtedly intelligent, a rising star in the entertainment industry and definitely one to watch. When I sat down to talk with her, she draws attention to the relevance of Revenge in the wider discussion of sexual politics in our generation. In this film, Lutz proves that she can immerse herself in a physically demanding role, something that can only help her fulfil her ambition of one day being a Bond girl. We grabbed a rare free moment between takes to talk to the actress about life in front of the camera.
How did you get involved with Revenge and working with director Coralie Fargeat?
I met her agent in Paris who later called me and said, “I have a client who is coming to LA she would love to meet you and she’s meeting girls for her next feature”. We met when I hadn’t read the script yet, and it felt like we had known each other for a long time. We started talking and the next day she was leaving for Paris and she asked me if I could go to her hotel room early the next morning to audition. I went and auditioned at 6 a.m. and she was very specific about what she wanted. For two hours I was crawling around on the floor of her hotel room – that’s how we met each other!
Was it physically straining taking part in this film?
It was pretty tough, mainly due to the location and weather. It looks warm and hot but it was freezing cold. We were in Morocco in February so it was very cold and with the wind blowing, we were freezing! If you look at behind the scenes pictures, everyone is covered in blankets and I was in a bikini for most of the shooting. The location itself was pretty hard because I was running around barefoot in the desert. There were some scenes where they’d stick a little sole to the bottom of my feet, but some other scenes they didn’t. I got scratches and cuts so it took a while to recover from that too.
Did you get the chance to do any work behind the camera on this film?
I want to get behind the camera and think I will one day; but I don’t think I’m ready yet. It’s a complete different job. I think having acting experience has given me a better idea of how to direct actors in a better way and that’s why I feel like a lot of directors do acting as well – to understand both sides. I love writing too, so I hope that one day I can do that.
Tell us about some films that inspired you when you were younger.
I love The Shawshank Redemption, Léon: The Professional, Moulin Rouge… There’s so many. I love all kinds of genres.
Do you personally watch horror films?
Horror is the one I have a hard time watching. I love shooting films that have lots of action and gore because it takes me out of reality and I don’t ever get to experience that in my life. You can really go for it and you don’t have to think about being rational. Watching them when I didn’t shoot it: it’s actually very hard for me. I’m very sensitive. With Revenge, I laugh when I see it [and] I don’t really have to look away. Having said that, four days ago I was in LA for a screening and I watched the movie, came home and had a nightmare! So it does still affect me.
I read that your mother signed you up for acting classes as a way to overcome shyness, is that right?
She didn’t push me into it, but she was like, “maybe you should try it”. I was very, very shy so I didn’t think I could ever be in front of an audience. What I realised is, when you’re acting, you’re playing a character – you’re not being yourself. So when I’m in front of an audience I kind of forget that people are judging me; they may be judging a character but they aren’t judging who I am, so I feel very free.
What is it about acting that you love?
I love acting because you don’t ever stop learning. There’s always something you can master: an accent, a language, a sport. There’s so many things, even by reading a script, there’s so many new things that you can learn through researching for films. For example, horseback riding, or guns – that’s something new I’ve learnt. There are so many films I would love to do, I started very late in my career. I love to do action movies, I would love to be in a James Bond film! That would be amazing. I love watching action films but would love to partake in them more!
The film is a “rape-revenge” film and is coming at such an important time in our society with the “Time’s Up” campaign. What significance does this film have to our time?
I never thought about it before the film came out because I was so involved being in it that I didn’t see the bigger picture; but when I saw it in Toronto for the first time it was pretty intense. Some men will see this film and feel very uncomfortable, and deep down some may realise how awful the situations are for women. The film shows three types of toxic men: 1. the guy who’s just looking and is seeing everything but not saying anything, 2. The guy who thinks he owns the world because he has money and looks and thinks he can shove women under the carpet, and 3. The other guy does it and at the same time feels bad after it.
I think this film does more than just entertain people, it sheds light on the sexual politics of our generation
It does. I think it won’t be sudden, but something [in our generation] definitely is changing.
Revenge is in cinemas now.