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Juno Temple has a surprisingly long list of credits despite being barely old enough to buy a drink in the United States.
The daughter of English filmmaker Julien Temple, the glimpses of talent the young actress displayed in small roles in “Atonement” and the “St. Trinian’s” comedy films in her native England come into full focus in Abe Sylvia’s “Dirty Girl,” an audience favorite at this year’s Toronto Film Festival.
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“She’s quite a bitch to begin with, and throughout the movie you figure out why,” says Temple of her character — a promiscuous and troubled Oklahoma high schooler named Danielle who befriends geeky, closeted Clarke (Jeremy Dozier) and hits the road with him to find her real father.
Temple says she took the role based on the strength of the script and her connection with Sylvia, who had fully visualized the story and characters but gave Temple room to put her own flourishes on Danielle.
“Whenever you’re doing a job, it’s so fascinating to explore,” she says, adding she finds inspiration in the details. “When you see your character’s bedroom for the first time, it’s very enlightening.”
Temple says she’s come to enjoy seeing a different side of America on the rural locations for “Dirty Girl” and the upcoming “Little Birds,” which shot at California’s Salton Sea.
“That whole side of America is something I find fascinating,” says Temple. “I’ve been in two trailer parks, and the one in ‘Dirty Girl’ was like Beverly Hills compared to the Salton Sea.”
While she learned to sing and dance for several scenes set in a gay roadhouse and had to cover up her natural English accent with an American one, Temple says she prefers to follow her instinct when it comes to playing out a scene. “It’s about making it as real as possible, whatever you’re doing,” she says. “You can’t rewind in real life, so I think instinct is much more real.”
Playing a promiscuous character is not a problem for Temple, who has several sexy scenes in both “Dirty Girl” and in director Gregg Araki’s “Kaboom,” which played out of competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
“You feel really vulnerable when you’re shooting a sex scene, but they’re so unsexy to shoot,” she says.
Future projects include “Jack and Diane,” about two girls living in New York City who have a love affair Temple describes as “quite bizarre,” and “The Three Musketeers,” in which she plays Queen Anne. “I’m having to be really regal, which is really difficult for me in real life,” she says with a laugh.
LUCKY BREAK: “A movie I did when I was 15 called ‘Atonement’ definitely started getting me more work.”
FAVORITE FILM: “It was ‘True Romance,’ but I just watched ‘Badlands’ this weekend and I think ‘Badlands’ is now my favorite movie.”
THE CAREER I’D LIKE TO EMULATE: “I would have happily played a lot of Winona Ryder’s roles.”