Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, Sally Hawkins, Dame Judi Dench
Director: Cary Fukunaga
Genre: Drama, Romance
Running Time: 120 minutes
In a bold new feature version of Jane Eyre, director Cary Joji Fukunaga (Sin Nombre) and screenwriter Moira Buffini (Tamara Drewe) infuse a contemporary immediacy into Charlotte Brontë's timeless, classic story. Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) and Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds) star in the iconic lead roles of the romantic drama, the heroine of which continues to inspire new generations of devoted readers and viewers.
In the 19th Century-set story, Jane Eyre (played by Ms. Wasikowska) suddenly flees Thornfield Hall, the vast and isolated estate where she works as a governess for Adèle Varens, a child under the custody of Thornfield's brooding master, Edward Rochester (Mr. Fassbender). The imposing residence - and Rochester's own imposing nature - have sorely tested her resilience. With nowhere else to go, she is extended a helping hand by clergyman St. John Rivers (Jamie Bell of Focus Features' The Eagle) and his family. As she recuperates in the Rivers' Moor House and looks back upon the tumultuous events that led to her escape, Jane wonders if the past is ever truly past
Aged 10, the orphaned Jane (played by Amelia Clarkson) is mistreated and then cast out of her childhood home Gateshead by her cruel aunt, Mrs. Reed (Golden Globe Award winner Sally Hawkins). Consigned to the charity school Lowood, Jane encounters further harsh treatment but receives an education and meets Helen Burns (Freya Parks), a poor child who impresses Jane as a soulful and contented person. The two become firm friends. When Helen falls fatally ill, the loss devastates Jane, yet strengthens her resolve to stand up for herself and make the just choices in life.
As a teenager, Jane arrives at Thornfield. She is treated with kindness and respect by housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax (Academy Award winner Judi Dench). Jane's interest is piqued by Rochester, who engages her in games of wit and storytelling, and divulges to her some of his innermost thoughts. But his dark moods are troubling to Jane, as are strange goings-on in the house - especially the off-limits attic. She dares to intuit a deep connection with Rochester, and she is not wrong; but once she uncovers the terrible secret that he had hoped to hide from her forever, she flees, finding a home with the Rivers family. When St. John Rivers makes Jane a surprising proposal, she realises that she must return to Thornfield - to secure her own future and finally, to conquer what haunts both her and Rochester.
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Question: What do you feel are your biggest accomplishments so far?
Mia Wasikowska: There are a few things that I really loved being a part of. I did a HBO show called In Treatment, which was the first thing I did in America and one of the most fulfilling jobs I've ever had. Now, I feel that Jane Eyre is a big accomplishment for me. Jane is a great character and it is a story that so many people love and connect to.
Question: The character of Jane has been played by several actresses, how did you approach it to be different and close to the new generation?
Mia Wasikowska: I think that even if you take away the period setting, the story is at its core, still very modern. It's about a young girl who's trying to find a connection in a very dislocated world, and about finding love and a family. The themes have a universality, and for that reason, people can relate to it regardless of what time they're in.
Question: Nowadays, people move in together after meeting and things are very different. Can young people relate to this story?
Mia Wasikowska: Yes, I think they do, because primarily we're all still looking for the same thing. Although times have changed and people today might be more sexually progressive, we are still looking to make a spiritual connection with someone. I think people will really admire Jane's character because she doesn't compromise herself for anybody, and she sees the value of becoming a fulfilled individual before attaching herself to somebody.
Question: So the world of Twitter and Facebook can relate?
Mia Wasikowska: With the Facebook and Twitter generation there is a false belief that we are making lots of connections. We are constantly seeing photographs of people and chatting online, but at the same time we are all very disconnected from each other and alone. I think there's still a hunger for real connections: having face to face conversations and making human contact. It's this overriding feeling of isolation that is relatable, in that Jane lives alone in that huge estate, her main company being an eight-year-old child (Adele Varens - played by Romy Settbon Moore) and Mrs. Fairfax (Judi Dench).
Question: How has the journey been for someone so young to get so many great roles so quickly?
Mia Wasikowska: I don't feel like I get to look at it objectively very often because I am in the middle of it all - my life slows down and accelerates at different times. When I go home to Australia, I think "wow, I've been to some crazy places!"
Question: How do you deal with the red carpet and fashion aspect of Hollywood being a serious young actress?
Mia Wasikowska: I definitely prefer being on-set working and rehearsing to being on a red carpet. However, both aspects are just two different parts of my job. Going to premieres and talking about the movie enables me to be on-set, so I see it as a small price to pay in terms of being uncomfortable when it means that I can do more of what I love.
Question: Have you learned how to pose?
Mia Wasikowska: I hope it comes across that way, but no, not really! (laughs)
Question: What is your style, what do you prefer when you go on the red carpet?
Mia Wasikowska: I really appreciate fashion as an art form. I'm a real fan of simplicity and minimalism when it comes to those kinds of things, but it's definitely fun to be able to wear something extravagant.
Question: It seems like you really disappear inside your characters. Do you agree?
Mia Wasikowska: Yeah, I think it helps the audience. The actors that I like the best are the ones who make you forget who they are in real life - you get absorbed by their character. I think if you can look different in role, it also helps the audience to really think of you as a different person. Sometimes, if it's a well-know celebrity playing a part, it becomes a slight distraction and harder to immerse yourself in the story that the film is trying to portray. The characters I've played are described as looking very different from each other, and I like that. I like the idea of disappearing into someone else's skin. It helps me to embody them.
Question: Why did you cut off your hair after Alice in Wonderland?
Mia Wasikowska: I did a film [Restless] with Gus van Sant where my character is ill and has been through chemotherapy. I had really long hair, so I cut it off for the movie. I didn't mind, because I'd had long hair for such a long time.
Question: How did you feel about the corsets you wear in this movie? Did it help you get into character?
Mia Wasikowska: I hated wearing the corsets because they're so uncomfortable. Getting into full costume really helped me to understand the physical repression that women were under at that time, and I think that the garment goes hand in hand with the mental and emotional repression they also felt. Repression is a huge part of Victorian culture and the corset shows how women were held back. Once it's on, you can't really take in a whole breath, you can't eat very much, and you can move as freely due to discomfort. It was painful!
Question: How was working with Michael Fassbender? How did you develop the chemistry?
Mia Wasikowska: He has a really fantastic energy and is very worldly and so friendly. I feel like we got on very, very well from the beginning. We have a similar way of working and we were able to counter the intensity of the material by being goofy in between shoots. We channeled all the positive energy that we had into the material.
Question: Do you identify with this particular period in history?
Mia Wasikowska: I don't see the glamour of that time period, it's very un-romantic. As a woman, you were not allowed a voice; your role was to be seen, not heard. It can be a visually pleasing era on screen but as with any time period, there are pros and cons.
Question: Would you grab what you want or wait for it to come to you likeJane?
Mia Wasikowska: I think it's a lot to do with knowing yourself, and understanding what would hurt you. There's such mystery surrounding Jane's relationship with Mr. Rochester. She's constantly questioning herself: "does he love me, does he love me?" and feels embarrassed at herself for thinking it. However, what I love about Jane's character is that she doesn't compromise herself for anybody; she sees the value in being a fulfilled individual before attaching herself to anyone.
Question: When did you first read Jane Eyre?
Mia Wasikowska: I read it on my own, because it wasn't part of my curriculum in school. I came back to Australia because I had just finished filming Alice in Wonderland. It was the first time that I didn't have to go back to school after finishing work so I was at a complete loss of what to do. I made a list of books that I thought I should read, and made it my aim to catch up on the classics. So I picked it up and started reading it then.
Question: Do you think this film will encourage other young girls to pick up the book?
Mia Wasikowska: Surprisingly, a few of my friends hadn't really read Jane Eyre, but when they found out I was doing it they picked up the book and read it. I hope if anything the movie encourages people who haven't read the book to read it because it's so rich, and it's a really important story.
Question: What time would you prefer to live in?
Mia Wasikowska: Now, because women are much more liberated and there's more equality between the sexes. There's much more opportunity and I think it's just easier being a girl now.
Question: When you were working as a minor, you were travelling with your mum. Now you are independent, has that been a big adjustment for you to make?
Mia Wasikowska: It's been good. It was great to have my mum with me, because she was so good at putting things in perspective. It would be easy to get carried away with things, so she was here to navigate that with me and guide me. Although for these last few films I've been on my own, I still speak to my parents all the time and I know they are there to support me.
Question: What kind of pressure do you feel working so hard at your age?
Mia Wasikowska: There are two very different ways of learning - being in school, and being here doing this. I think that both are great, but both have their pros and cons. Although I know and enjoy this practical way of learning best, the difficult thing is that I feel like the mistakes I make or the things I do which aren't perfect leave a real mark, which doesn't always happen in school.
Question: How do you handle that pressure?
Mia Wasikowska: Having people remind you of how lucky you are really helps. I think it's also important for people to talk about the pressure and share that stuff so that other people can help you cope.
Question: What do you do in your free time?
Mia Wasikowska: I take a lot of photographs, I really like photography and I read a lot. I have been surfing a few times too; I really like to do that! I enjoy doing Pilates when I get thechance.