The only thing Junoesque about Juno Temple is the size of her talent. The British actress may be petite in height but she gives an outsized, funny, and touching performance as a promiscuous teenage hoyden in Dirty Girl, a coming-of-age comedy that opens today (Friday, October 7).
“I had the time of my life making this movie,” says Temple, 22, during a recent interview in New York. “I just loved Danielle, my character. I thought she was such an extraordinary free spirit.” The story is set in 1987 in Norman, Oklahoma, where Danielle and an overweight, gay classmate (Jeremy Dozier) become friends and then set off on a cross-country road trip that will change both of their lives.
Throughout the film, Temple convincingly speaks with an American twang. “Everyone has been so nice about my accent,” she says when complimented on getting it right. “It’s not just an American accent, it’s a Southern belle. I love the Southern accent, I think it’s so sexy! Sometimes I do it just for fun.”
Also fun were the trampy, disco-influenced fashions she got to wear for the movie and the teased hair. “Kapow, right?” she says. “I’m not a huge fan of ’80s fashions but I got to wear a lot of ’70s stuff, the idea being that I was wearing my Mum’s hand-me-downs, just with the shorts chopped a little shorter and the tops cropped a little higher.” The downside to her Dirty Girl wardrobe? She took a tumble, thanks to the towering platform heels she was wearing, while filming a scene where she ran across a field at night. “I wiped out. Not fun,” she says with a grimace. “Especially with everyone watching.”
As for the film’s nifty ‘80s soundtrack, she already was familiar with much of the music thanks to her dad. Temple is the daughter of Julien Temple, who has directed numerous music videos and music-themed documentaries as well as the movie Absolute Beginners (1986); her mother is producer Amanda Temple. The actress, who lives in Los Angeles (“I love the weather!”), remains close to her parents, who are in the UK. She says she relies on them for career advice and help in choosing roles, and that they were fully on board when she decided to skip college to pursue acting upon graduating from high school.
For her, it was the right decision. She has worked steadily since she was 16, including playing Cate Blanchett‘s daughter in Notes on a Scandal (2006) and appearing in The Other Boleyn Girl (2008), Year One (2009), and two films in the re-launched St. Trinian’s series.
The movie for which Temple is most often recognized is Atonement (2007). In the Oscar-nominated period drama, she appeared as Lola Quincey, a redheaded girl who is raped by an upper-class creep (played by Sherlock‘s Benedict Cumberbatch). She later marries him, allowing the movie’s plebeian hero (James McAvoy) to be falsely blamed for the crime.
“Isn’t he marvelous?” she says of Cumberbatch. “He was so kind with me. That scene [the rape] was a tough one to do, and I was just 16, but because we got along so well, afterwards we could hug it out.”
Up next for Temple is a regal turn as Queen Anne in the latest version of The Three Musketeers, due October 21. She also has a role in next year’s new Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, from British director Christopher Nolan. “I can’t says a word, other than it’s seriously cool,” she says of the Batman film, smiling slyly. “Not a word.”
What does she miss most about England? “My family, I miss them so much,” she says. And, oh yes, she longs for Cadbury Curly Wurlys. “It’s a candy bar that’s caramel covered in chocolate, but it looks like a hair braid.”
At the end of the interview, I ask her — it’s the obligatory Anglophenia question — whether she is a fan of Doctor Who or has hopes of someday guest starring on the popular BBC series. She shakes her head. “I have to confess, I’ve never watched it,” she says. “I don’t own a TV.”
Trailer for Dirty Girl
Tom Brook chats with Juno Temple about Dirty Girl
Juno tells Tom Brook about the actresses who have influenced her:
Juno on the advice she gets from her famous dad:
What’s your favorite movie with Juno Temple?