At just 22, British actress Juno Temple has already amassed an eclectic resume filled with notable films such as Notes on a Scandal, Atonement, Kaboom, and The Three Musketeers. She also stars opposite Riley Keough in the lesbian lycanthropic love story Jack and Diane, and this summer will appear in the highly anticipated Batman sequel, The Dark Knight Rises. No wonder she was named as one of 2011’s “Brits to Watch” by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. The daughter of filmmaker Julien Temple (Absolute Beginners) and producer Amanda Pirie, Temple received a privileged upbringing in London, yet insists her parents instilled in her a quest for knowledge. In Abe Sylvia’s Dirty Girl (out today on DVD) Temple sets out on another kind of mission. As the film’s heroine, Danielle, Temple is compelling playing a promiscuous Oklahoma teen who takes a musical fantasy–fueled road trip to California to locate her father with classmate Clarke (out newcomer Jeremy Dozier), a chubby gay loner escaping his abusive dad. Temple tells The Advocate about making the film, its positive message for LGBT teens, and making out with Elvis’s granddaughter Riley Keough in Jack and Diane.
The Advocate: Your parents are famous filmmakers in England and you attended boarding school. Your upbringing couldn’t be more different from your Dirty Girl character Danielle’s. How did you find a way to relate to her?
Juno Temple: When I was in school, I was good at not listening to bullshit. I don’t like gossip. I think it’s unhealthy and it doesn’t help anybody. My best friend and I started the lingerie-as-outerwear trend at our school so I was definitely sometimes an outsider and was teased for my wardrobe choices. What I love about Danielle is she’s a free spirit and a firecracker. She’s sometimes unbelievably outrageous, but I think in a relatable way. She also has a lot of vulnerability and so many layers to her. I related to that.
Director Abe Sylvia, who also wrote the screenplay, says he based your character on someone he knew as a teenager. How did he help you become Danielle?
Abe was so amazing and helpful to me in finding this character. When I decide to do a movie it’s very important that I can trust the director and that he trusts me back. I want to let go and let down my walls. Abe has become family to me. He’s like my big brother. He’s so talented. He transformed me. Danielle’s look is so different from mine. I’d never have the balls to wear those things in real life. Abe had it in his head which shoes I’d wear and which way my bangs would be flipped. I’m really proud of him. I think he’s made such an extraordinary movie.
What message does Dirty Girl have for kids who are being bullied?
I think the moral of the movie is to not judge a book by its cover and to have friendships that allow you to blossom and be who you are. I love the relationship between Clarke and Danielle so much because they go on such a journey together. They listen to each other and care for one another. They really change and nurture each other. He teaches her about family and in the end she learns to appreciate her mom, which she hadn’t done. And let’s be honest moms are the great people in the world. It blows my mind to see what other kids can find to bully other kids about. It’s just ridiculous what humanity does sometimes. I think this movie sends out a message to just be who you are. Not everyone’s going to like it, but some people will and it will rock your world.
You’ve been in a lot of films with gay and lesbian content. Is it just a coincidence or are you drawn to films about marginalized people?
I think it’s not a coincidence. I’m drawn to those characters, but it’s not something I seek out. I think people should be whatever they want to be. That some people are punished or tortured for being gay is just baffling to me. I have no qualms about playing someone like that. I’m so proud to have gay people in my life. If you can be out and proud, it’s a magical thing. I’d take any role like that if it’s a good character and I think I can play it. Love is love. You can’t help whom you fall in love with.
What can you reveal about your upcoming film Jack and Diane, in which you play a lesbian and possibly a werewolf.
It’s a beautiful love story between these two young women in New York. The girl I play has never fallen in love with a girl before but has an affair with a young woman who has. She makes this discovery and is mesmerized by this woman. I don’t know if you’ve been through this but I have…it’s this idea of loving someone so much that you want them flowing through your veins. Not in a gross way, but just that you want this person to be a part of you. That’s what the film is about. My character has these weird fantasy-dreams about become a werewolf-demon because she’s keeping secrets from her girlfriend. I don’t want to give too much away but there’s a really great scene that symbolizes that. I had an amazing time working with Riley Keough. She’s a great kisser.
And she’s the granddaughter of Elvis Presley.
Yes, but I don’t get star struck. Although maybe if I’d met Kurt Cobain… Riley and I just had fun and we lived in Brooklyn together while we filmed this. There are some scenes that were very sexual, but if you’re not willing to throw yourself into it completely, don’t do the movie. I think it’s so important to fully commit to it. I had a great time working with her and kissing her and eating dinner with her. She’s beautiful inside and out. She’s a magical human being. I’m lucky to have her in my life.
You’re also in the next Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. I don’t suppose you can…
I can’t say anything. It’s top secret. It was just mind blowing to be a part of such a big project. I don’t care about being famous. I just love acting and I want to keep doing it and play roles that take me out of who I am. Acting helps me discover emotions and fantasies and dreams that I’ve never had. Whether it’s a big studio movie or a tiny independent film, they’re always challenging and daunting. I’m always nervous on my first day because I care. When that feeling goes away it’ll be time to find a new career.