If you think that most Brits fumble for words and never get to the point, Samantha Morton will change that view. Her clarity, integrity and drive — let alone her no-holds-barred acting style — have made her a favorite with such helmers as Steven Spielberg (“Minority Report”), Woody Allen (“Sweet and Lowdown”), Lynn Ramsay (“Morvern Callar”) and Michael Winterbottom (“Code 46”).
Morton received an Oscar nomination in 2000 for her supporting role in “Sweet and Lowdown,” and the 26-year-old’s performance in Jim Sheridan’s “In America” could put her in lead actress contention this awards season. She’s already notched a Spirit nom.
Morton plays an Irish mother who moves to the U.S. with her husband (Paddy Considine) and two young daughters to make a fresh start and realize their dream of a better life. Largely based on Sheridan’s own life story, pic paints a warm and emotional picture of the immigrant experience and the tribulations of a young family.
Morton explains how she achieved a credible bond with her onscreen children, who are sisters in real life. “It was acting within acting,” she says. “I had to get into character pretty much off set, so that the children would react to me in a continual way and they could just be themselves rather than act.”
Morton, who started her acting career at the tender age of 12, appearing in various British TV series, enjoys working with writer-directors such as Sheridan. “It’s helpful because they’re very passionate about their project and they’re going through the process with you because they’ve written it.”
Morton’s craftsmanship is rooted in a genuine desire to help realize a filmmaker’s vision. “It’s about collaboration, bringing something to the melting pot, and not so much about ego. You have to respect that a lot of the time it isn’t about you, it’s about lots of other elements. It’s about knowing that there’s a story to be told and you’re a piece of that story.”
Morton just wrapped Roger Michell’s stalker drama “Enduring Love,” and she’s set to star in Laurence Dunmore’s “The Libertine” next.
Coming attractions: “Enduring Love,” “The Libertine”