Lars wasn’t the only one attracted to a plastic beauty named Bianca. The living, breathing co-star of “Lars and the Real Girl,” Emily Mortimer, swooned for the film’s concept of a man who falls for a life-size doll.
“That was the thing that was immediately exciting about it and didn’t seem risky at all,” says Mortimer. “It just seemed like a very good central image, which is something you long for.”
Mortimer concedes that during the pic’s Toronto shoot, the actors “were a bit confused about its tone — not quite knowing what this was as a movie.” Director Craig Gillespie guided them conscientiously, but there was “still something strange about it,” she says.
“The thing that was a concern for me was it’s such a great idea or conceit, but it has to work as a film,” she recalls. “I just instinctively felt like, in a way, the doll was going to be the thing that saves the movie.”
Though Mortimer’s role as Karin doesn’t grab Bianca’s headlines (or snickers), it is pivotal in its own right, propelling the plot with her determination to lure brother-in-law Lars (Ryan Gosling) out of his shell.
Mortimer claims it’s a challenge every time she takes on a part “to figure out how you’re going to do it,” but she did have a head start. She shared Karin’s experiences of being pregnant and being surrounded by her husband’s family, away from her own.
The London-born Mortimer augmented her preparations for the role by watching the rural-set PBS “Frontline” documentary “The Farmer’s Wife.”
“You fall in love with this girl, because she’s just a real woman who’s a million different things,” Mortimer says. “I was very nervous about doing this sort of small-town American. I felt like I just didn’t have any cultural experience like that at all.”
All the groundwork helped Mortimer give “Lars” her own healthy dose of real girl.
“At the beginning, it always feels like I have nothing in common with (a character),” she says, “and then afterward, I feel like I relate to her in every single way.”
Favorite film: “The Big Lebowski.” “It’s the pleasure of knowing there are people alive in the world who make films like that, that there are sensibilities in the world that are like the Coen brothers’ sensibilities.”
Young actor you admire: Paul Schneider, her husband in “Lars.” “He just finds the reality in what he’s doing. He’s an incredibly funny guy, but he resists the temptation to use that unnecessarily.”
What you want in a director: “Just to really feel like someone’s watching what you’re doing.”
Vice: “My own sort of pornography is the property sections (of a newspaper).”