By Agnieszka Flak
VENICE (Reuters) - Playing a society reject who tries to survive in a desert wasteland after having her limbs cut off by cannibals was a terrifying experience, British model-turned-actress Suki Waterhouse said at the Venice film festival on Tuesday.
The 24-year-old actress landed her first major role with "The Bad Batch", which premieres in Venice and is one of 20 U.S. and international movies competing for the coveted Golden Lion that will be announced on Saturday.
"I was absolutely terrified and I stayed terrified throughout the whole thing," Waterhouse told a press conference ahead of the movie's official premiere.
Shooting in the desert and portraying a character with a prosthetic leg and without an arm was a challenge both physically and mentally, said the actress, who has modeled for fashion house Burberry.
"I'm a girl from London who's been in a different industry, and I was suddenly like kaplonked in the salt and sea."
Writer and director Ana Lily Amirpour described her second feature film as a "action-adventure-fairytale" that explores the lives of people on the margins of society and the limits of survival and human understanding.
"I guess it is a love letter to something American. I do love America. The things I love, though, I don't really think are perfect," Amirpour said.
Amirpour said the movie was shot in the Californian desert and she spent a year visiting a local community called Slab City, whose inhabitants, living in trailers and off the grid, eventually became extras on the set.
The movie also stars Jason Momoa as Miami Man, one of the cannibals, Keanu Reeves as The Dream, the cult leader of the community where Arlen finds safety, and Jim Carrey, as the mute hermit who wanders around the desert with a shopping cart and at one point saves both Miami Man and Arlen.
"The hermit is so important ... he's the kindness in this harsh environment," Amirpour said.
About offering an experienced actor like Carrey a role with only a few scenes and no dialogue, she said the "Dumb and Dumber" actor known for his facial expressions and quick wit understood the character's importance because of the parallels to his own life as a celebrity.
The hermit "is like the homeless guy that you ignore at every street corner," she said. "Being that famous in a way, no one really sees who you are ... there is something really connected there. And I also said, 'hey, Jim, have you ever not said a word in a movie?"
(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)