In no uncertain terms, 26 year-old Australian actress Emily Browning has made it clear that she’s determined to play more diverse roles in film going forward.
In a recent interview with The Guardian, Browning discussed her personal struggles with acting in Hollywood as part of promoting her new film, Legend, a biopic about the Kray Gangster twins and Frances Shae who was married to Reggie Kray.
Very little known about Shae is verifiable, which Browning says she enjoyed as an actress, “There wasn’t much out there I felt I could trust,” says Browning on her research for the part “And I kind of loved that; I really don’t intellectualise acting too much. It allowed me to shape Shea for myself.”
Browning is also mindful of some of the similarities of Shae to earlier roles in her career. In Sucker Punch, Sleeping Beauty and Legend, she has played victimized vulnerable women involving objectification in some manner or other.
“I’ve made my career playing fragile people because I can relate to it,” says Browning. “I’m plagued by constant anxiety…It’s this nagging, buzzing little thing in my head,” she continues. “I learned a word the other day – metacognition – which is to have awareness and understanding of your own thought process. Sometimes, I think about what I’m thinking about on this constant loop until I feel like my brain is eating itself. If I sit still for too long, that’s what it feels like; falling into a black hole in my own mind. When I’m in front of the camera, that’s the only time I really get a release. I’m just there.”
Browning talks about feeling very anxious and reticent about one of her earliest roles in the film adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. “I saw a world I didn’t want to be part of,” she says carefully. “I was hanging out with kids who had never been to school, who only knew the film industry, and it freaked me out. I had certain people who were telling me, if I was lucky, I could be the star of a Nickelodeon show. I thought, ‘No, I can’t do this. I need to get out of here.’ And for a while, I thought I didn’t want to be an actress. That it had been fun for a bit, but it’s not for me.”
After finishing school, she continued to her career that she’s now known for, but she’s adamant about avoiding further roles of fantasy babe/love interest. “I got told all the time when I was younger that I am wise beyond my years, before I realised they say that to everyone,” she says. “I’m so determined not to play the hot babe that doesn’t say anything, that can’t have an opinion, but it’s so difficult to resist all of that. Hollywood movies are made for white men, and that’s something I think about and which bothers me all the time…The sad thing is it’s so consistent, and so present. Sometimes you don’t even notice it.”
Browning isn’t wrong about that. Movies make money by targeting demographics and white hetero males have had the largest disposable income for a while now (that’s a whole issue unto itself). But arts and entertainment should be about more than just targeting the most common denominators. They should try to connect with and provide opportunities for as broad a range of peoples in the human condition as possible. You could point to certain films like Straight Outta Compton or the upcoming female Ghostbusters reboot as signs that Hollywood is expanding it’s appeal but, the biggest movies and the biggest stars are still predominately white and male. I hope Emily Browning and all actors in and out of Hollywood can find roles that appeal to them.
You can see her latest performance in Legend out in theaters now.
Source: The Guardian