While fans of the books may be disappointed that Ridley is not the blond punk princess described in the original material, Rossum is confident they'll love the more glamorous version on screen. She spoke to Moviefone about playing a villain for the first time, how she drew inspiration from an ancient goddess for the role and one key scene in the movie that wasn't in the book (and that she couldn't help practicing over and over in her hotel room).
Moviefone: It looks like you had a lot of fun playing a Siren. Emmy Rossum: I did! It's probably too much fun. I can't believe they paid me to do it. It was a role that I fought for and auditioned for and really wanted. I like the idea of her special brand of evil, which is infused with happiness and joy at doing these kinds of things. She's very self-assured and into herself, almost comically so. So I had a lot of fun with it. It's the first time I've played a villain.
Were you surprised by the way the movie differs from the books? I felt that [director] Richard [LaGravenese] did an amazing job as a screenwriter of adapting this world that is so complex. I loved how my character had the same spirit but was just kind of more sophisticated and worldly because, in theory, if she had traveled all over the world, she might have a certain sense of glamour and fashion and I really liked that aspect of his ideas.
Did knowing what happens to your character in other books affect how you played her? No, I tried to compartmentalize and just play it as the director wrote it.
If the sequels happen, will you be back for those? If we do them, yeah, absolutely.
Did you ever meet the authors to talk to them about the character? I did, secretly. I kind of wanted to pick their brain about their feelings about the character. I don't think even Richard knows this. I got ahold of Kami on Twitter and started asking her questions on direct message after I got the part. We started brainstorming about what we thought Ridley's life had been, and then I took some of that information and incorporated it into the overall story that I wrote myself about the character.
You wrote a whole biography of your character? Yeah, I just have a whole bulletin board of ideas and visualizations and different ways that I try to find my "in" into this character and kind of humanize her. To keep it larger than life, one of the ways I found was, I based her kind of on a Norse goddess named Freya. She's kind of the all-powerful woman, very sensual, very encouraging of bad antics. So I kept pictures of her in my trailer.
Does that mean you want to be part of the "Thor" universe? Only if I can be her.
What was the reaction among fans when you got cast? "Why isn't she blond?" That was the first thing. But then a lot of people were skeptical because you envision the character one way. I think that people have really embraced -- at least I hope the people who have seen it so far -- my interpretation of her. I think I tried very, very hard to capture the spirit of who she is in the book, her way of walking and thinking and feeling -- although the physical look of the character is different than she's described in the book. She's kind of more like a Harajuku punk princess in the book and we're showing her as more of an Old Hollywood Siren. So it's definitely different, but I think it has the same, fun-loving, kind of sexy, outlandish boisterous quality that the book had.
The scene where Ridley is claimed isn't even in the book, but it's a pivotal scene in the movie. Richard took it from one sentence in the book and dramatized it and created a whole flashback. It's very telling for my character. It was almost the most interesting scene to play -- a completely nonverbal scene -- because you get to see the simultaneous agony and ecstasy that comes with the actual claiming. I think that's something teenagers are wrestling with emotionally at that time. Playing that scene, which is so key to who she is, was a challenge and really fun for me. You have no idea how many times in my hotel room I was practicing my claiming in the bathroom mirror. The hotel maid would come in to try to clean the room and I would be like [gasping] in the bathroom, and she would think I was having a seizure in there.
The bulletin board you mentioned: Do you do that for every role? Yeah. It looks like "Homeland." It's everything from images to quotes to ideas for scenes. It's basically brain vomit.
What do you do with it when the movie is over? It usually gets thrown away -- and whatever's left is on the screen.
I imagine some fans might like to get ahold of that. Somebody would like it. A lot of it's very personal ideas and sense memories of things that happened to me will get tacked next to that scene number. It wouldn't necessarily mean anything to anyone else.
What do you say to the movie's inevitable comparisons to "Twilight?" The similarities are that we're both based on young adult novels and are supernatural love stories and that's where it ends. Our movie has a ton of humor, and I think our movie's really fun. And the woman is the one with all the power. It's narrated by a man who's lusting after this woman who's the most powerful woman in the whole world, so it's definitely a role reversal from that film. And it's steeped in a lot of Southern Gothic wicca and voodoo that's very specific to our film and our storytelling.