c THE GUIDE TO HALLOWE’EN
was black, I realised what a big thing the story was. I realised that this version was going to divide people, but I’d much rather do something that gets people thinking and stirs things up a bit.’
As a 19-year-old in 2011, how did you connect to the 19th century Cathy? ‘To me the story isn’t the fairytale romance that people perceive it to be. It shows that love is a kind of disease. Actually, going to this tiny village in Yorkshire in the middle of nowhere and being surrounded by the moors and the fog and the mud and the rain and the snow really helped in understanding how the teenage Cathy would feel love so intensely. I felt her sense of being trapped in a world where she either marries the wealthy Edgar or runs off with this wild boy Heathcliff. I didn’t want to judge her. Deep down she knows that Heathcliff will kill her, in the sense that her love for him will drive her crazy.’ What was distinctive about the way Andrea Arnold directed you? ‘She does lots of silent takes, where she sets the camera up and you don’t know if it’s rolling or not, and then she asks you to do the line in your head. At first you feel stupid, but it’s a great way of getting the movements of your character. There aren’t any cues or marks. She doesn't want actors to “act” – she wants you to be yourself.’
A subtle film version of a classic novel has got to be very different to a teen-written show like Skins. How did you handle the change? ‘I was terrified before the shoot. I hadn’t worked for a year since finishing Skins [Scodelario played Effy in four seasons of Skins between 2007 and 2010], and the doubts had started to creep in. With Skins I’d had this huge high of working every day with friends and not worrying about auditions: that was the only job I’d ever worked on where everyone genuinely wants everyone else to do well. I was worried that people would say that I was just this Skins girl, who was doing a period thing to make herself looks
different. On the first day on set, when I was just asked to walk in a straight line, I had a panic attack. Within two minutes of speaking to Andrea I was fine.’
What’s in store for the future? Will you carry on pursuing dark material or is now the time for a romantic comedy? ‘I’ve just made a cancer drama, called Now Is Good, directed by Ol Parker and starring Dakota Fanning. We filmed in Brighton and it’s about a girl dying of leukemia, although it’s not as depressing as it sounds.
SCARY SOUNDTRACKS The comedian and orchestra appreciator on what makes for good malevolent music
What’s your favourite score to a scary movie? The Bernard Herrmann score to The Day the Earth Stood Still . It’s quite futuristic and incredibly orchestral and atmospheric. He uses the Theremin [an early electronic instrument that can be played without being touched – it senses the hand’s position], which had fallen into disuse at this stage. It had been championed by New York society in the 1920s, even to the point that the Theremin’s muse, Clara Rockmore, had been giving recitals at Carnegie Hall. He resurrected it and used it to great effect. I always think that that soundtrack is the
perfect example of that genre, the 50s science fiction movie. The otherworldly, the strange, the slightly terrifying and unknown – it sums all that up beautifully.
What instruments can be made to sound particularly haunting? I think the sparing use of a single cello can be very effective. There’s something about the act of the bow creeping across a string. For example, in Psycho you get the high-pitched sweeps of violin which almost mimic the sound of a human scream. A classic, which has become a cliché, is Jaws, where there is a single note on a cello, which can be incredibly powerful. Are there any day-to-day sounds you find chilling? Occasionally, the wind will blow through the window in a strange, haunting way, catching you unawares with a sort of whistling sound. Leaves rustling behind you as you walk up the street. The strange tapping noise at night. Tap, tap, tap . . . what is that? A crow is it, perhaps? Or your own toenails on the headboard? Who knows . . .
Have you written any scary music? It was Hallowe’en when I wrote a piece of music for the show I’m doing now. There’s a short film that I show at the end of the routine. I was performing in Belfast – people were dressed as the Jolly Green Giant, and as Star Wars characters, which didn’t seem to be in keeping with Hallowe’en but was entertaining nonetheless – and there was no sound accompanying the film. I always think music and film is a potent combination so I went on and improvised a bit of music, and this music morphed into the music I’m still playing now. I’ve just recorded it with a band for an album and I realise I actually quite like it.
The best film music is the kind you don’t even realise is playing. You’re not aware of it. It captures the mood or there’s something particularly appropriate to the scene which conjures up something which changes what’s on the screen. The image may not seem that threatening but the music tells you, ‘watch out . . . something’s lurking.’
I’ve also just shot a BBC TV series, Love Life with Billie Piper. It’s set in Margate, which has such a weird atmosphere. Our unit base was at a theme park which burnt down three years ago. We had a great time though, because it was the middle of a heat wave and we got to hang out on the beach.’ Are there clichés to avoid? I think that sometimes there are certain intervals – the devil’s chord, the tritone – which were overused in the metal genre. Though, because we’ve seen so many of these films, you can reference these things ironically because we’re all in on the joke. (Interview by Murray Robertson.)
Wuthering Heights is on general release from Fri 11 Nov. Read the review on page 68. ■ Bill Bailey performs his show, Dandelion Mind, at Edinburgh Playhouse on Wed 16 Nov and Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow, on Sat 26 Nov.
20 Oct–17 Nov 2011 THE LIST 15