Alice Eve plays a single mom roped into a world of crime in "Cold Comes the Night." Credit: Getty Images
The English actress Alice Eve has been a regular of American movies for awhile, having appeared in “She’s Out of My League,” “Sex and the City 2,” “Men in Black III” and “Star Trek Into Darkness.” But she’s just as comfortable in smaller American films. In “Cold Comes the Night,” she plays a struggling single mother in upstate New York who is forced to help a blind criminal (Bryan Cranston) recoup a major score. She also now has two Neil LaBute movies under her belt: last year’s “Some Velvet Morning” and “Dirty Weekend,” which just wrapped.
Chloe, your character in “Cold Comes the Night,” makes some questionable decisions, and is even called a “bad person” by one of the characters. How did you view her?
The way I understood her was that she was without choice and she didn’t have options available to her. She had nothing to lean back on, nothing to look forward to. All she had was the moment she was in. She had this fierce love and need to protect her child. Those are the motivations that she had and that was how I was able to understand some of the choices she made.
You spend a lot of the movie internalizing your feelings, not putting them in dialogue.
I think that happens a lot in life. A lot of our lives we don’t have the chance to put our feelings into words. We maybe struggle to understand them or find the words that best reflect them. I think that for her it was definitely not uncommon. The only person she was only close to was nine years old. She probably had a lot of things she wasn’t sharing with her child. What I felt was Chloe had never really been able to share, or never been understood, or had maybe never experienced a sincere intimacy.
There’s an interesting inner struggle with your character between being vulnerable and strong.
We’re all born vulnerable, and then we learn toughness as a response to our environment and circumstances. Some people develop a very thick veneer and some people don’t. I think Chloe has a vulnerability. She’s a woman she’s human, but she has not been given much of a chance. She’s only been able to live her toughness. She runs a hotel that’s also a brothel. Toughness is really the only option for her.
How did you get into the working class American vibe?
My mother’s family is working class in Northern England, in Liverpool. My grandma is 90 years old and she’s an incredible woman. She’s very tough and strong. She’s had a hard life. There’s lot in my memory and my blood that understands that kind of thing.
Were there some things you did to better know the motel industry?
The best thing we came up with was I would go and clean the motels with the women who ran them. I did the daily rounds with these very generous motel owners across the area. It’s hard work. And they live in the motels, so they’re subject to all the shenanigans that go on after dark in those environments. A lot of them are women who live with their kids.
You and Bryan Cranston are often the only people on screen. How do you cope with such a small cast in a remote place?
I think that we would have been desperately lonely if we weren’t friends outside of work. [Laughs] There was no city around us or family to allow us the privilege of ignoring eachother off-set as well as on. We ended up getting on quite well, and we formed a little group with [the other actors] as well, mainly because there was little else around.
People make a big deal out of accents. How was doing this accent?
I had a dialect coach. I didn’t slip in an out of it. Tze [Chun, the director] wanted me to speak in it the whole time. So I did. We’d be at lunch and my mom called once, and=I was like [does American accent] “Hi, mom!” It was this weird conversation with my mother with a different accent. I spent the entire movie speaking this accent, to the point were people on the crew were like, “What?” at the end of the movie.
Do you have trouble shaking characters off when you’re done with them?
It was hard to shake Chloe off, for sure. I grew to like her quite a lot. So you feel very sad that anyone like her has to one day cease to exist, in a way.