Q&A: Kristin Scott Thomas On Becoming A Glam Warrior for ‘Only God Forgives’
Kristin Scott Thomas in Only God Forgives
Sitting at the Mandarin Oriental in Manhattan wearing an emerald green Lanvin frock, her stocking feet tucked under her, Kristin Scott Thomas is a little in shock about the previous interviewer’s question: what did "Only God Forgives" mean?
Viewers coming into the new film expecting "Drive 2" - the 2011 art-house smash that was the previous collaboration between Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn and Canadian matinee idol Ryan Gosling - are in for a shock. What they get instead is a bloody Bangkok-set revenge drama with an Asian martial arts kick.
Rarely have we seen this elegant actress go so far out on a limb. To play Crystal, the murderous mamma of Ryan Gosling’s Bangkok black marketer, the actress underwent a massive makeover: nail extensions, a brash blond wig and a brassy American accent.
As Crystal, Scott Thomas is the fire in the belly of the movie, a force of nature in an artificial world. And, Scott Thomas, 53, politely admits, that although she finds her film "extraordinarily beautiful to look at," it’s also "very, very, very frightening and extremely disturbing." She added, with a bit of her character’s directness, "I'll tell you, when you leave the cinema, I don’t know if you're meant to, but it makes you feel grubby."
Was it fun stepping into Crystal, this mama tiger in tight pants?
KST: What was fun was the bluff of Kristin being transformed physically into that person.
How did you decide the walk, the hair, the costume?
KST: The walk is done because of the heels and the platforms, and the wooden shoes, and that kind of dink, dink, dink that they make. Here’s the backstory: I did a photo shoot about a year previous to meeting Nicolas where I was doing a variety of characters. One was a man, one was Amy Winehouse, and one was Donatella Versace.
For Versace, I had this long, blonde wig, and a short skirt, masses of jewelry, and nails out to here. Basically I looked like Crystal. They took me out on the street in Paris to photograph me, like fake paparazzi shots. And I was astounded by the reaction from people around me. Men, particularly, were incredibly, unbelievably aggressive.
KST: They just wanted to possess me. One man tried to chat me up. I just brushed him off. Then he came back a second time and pulled me. We're talking about a really nice Parisian street outside Yves Saint Laurent, and other men were shouting very dirty things at me. Women were cowering. Women were frightened and men got really aggressive. After 15 minutes, I couldn't stand any more of it, I had to go in. And everyone else was killing themselves laughing, because it's so funny.
Was it funny because it differed so radically from our image of Kristin Scott Thomas?
KST: It’s so not me. It was amusing to see all these people reacting to this huge, great disguise that I'm in. But I was also really shaken by them because it occurred to me that there are women in the world who do it on purpose to get that kind of reaction. And, in the morning, when you're applying your fake eyelashes, or you're having your nails done, or you're getting your fake tan done, and you're having your extensions put in, you know that that's what you're courting.
You're courting that kind of power, aggressiveness, or whatever it is, whichever side you take. And that, to me, seemed, was, is totally alien. I'm the sort of person who wants to be admired, but elegant. I don’t want to be somebody who's creating a fight.