‘I have not seen any of your films … I know you more through your reputation,” admits Steve Buscemi, playing an arrogant New York journalist who’d rather be covering politics than interviewing the actress Katya in her luxurious downtown loft. Sitting across from him, as Katya, is Sienna Miller, a tabloid survivor herself. She snarls, “You mean who I’ve fucked?” In the Buscemi-directed Interview, a remake of a Theo van Gogh film that opens July 13, Miller spoofs her own fashion-victim tabloid-princess persona, as she squares off in a psychosexual battle of wits (“You know what? I don’t fuck celebrities,” snarls Buscemi, after Miller toys with him. “I don’t fuck nobodies,” she replies). It’s a juicy, caustic movie about the kind of soul-baring, life-changing celebrity interview that, well, never really happens. It ain’t going to happen here, either. Sorry. Still, Miller gamely talked about the parallels between her life and her Sharon Stone–on–a–bender performance.
Buscemi told me you kind of freaked him out when you took the part so fast.
Yeah, I was really uncool about it. I basically got a call from my agent saying that Steve Buscemi has a project and he wants you to do it. At which point, I sort of screamed and said, “I’ll do it!” He said, “Well, at least you should read the script or have a conversation with Steve”—and I said, “No, I don’t need to.” Then I talked to Steve, and he said, “Don’t you want to read the script?” And I said, “No.” I would go make tea on one of Steve’s movies.
You’re so available.
There should probably be a bit more mystery to me. I suppose a bit of unavailability is an attractive thing. But, I mean, he’s a consummate professional. And no one can say “What the fuck?!” like Steve Buscemi. He’s got that phrase forever.
Buscemi has said that he resisted the temptation to cast someone who’d been in the gossip columns. Did you take the role because of similarities with your own life?
I don’t see any similarities between me and Katya at all, actually. Of course, she’s not really taken seriously as an actress and I’m sure some people don’t take me seriously as an actress—but she’s self-obsessed and ostentatious. It was so much fun to play someone who’s that unashamedly evil, really detestable.
Plus you got to enact a revenge fantasy against journalists everywhere.
Well, I’m not saying that all journalists are assholes, by any means. [Long pause.] It was more that I found these two characters who have this whole life together in one night.
Okay, but was any of it based on interviews you’ve endured?
No, though we did improvise some. One day, Steve was looking at photos of me online and I said, “Oh, no! Don’t look at that one—I look like a slut.” And then I get new pages and he’s put that scene—with “I look like a slut”—in the script. After that, I was more careful about what I said to Steve.
Did you base Katya on anyone else?
Sort of, but I can’t say who.
I can’t, but it was from meeting actresses who are really comfortable with celebrity, which I’m not. Just destructive, destructive people. I could never say. I’d never work again! In the future, I’ll never say I based this role on anyone.
I’m guessing Buscemi’s character reminded you of some of my peers.
In Interview, Steve is just so rude. I think it’s just amazing that he calls me “Cunt-ya.” In America, it’s a very rude word, but [in England] it’s used far too flippantly. But, yeah—I’ve been in interviews where people try to blatantly get a rise out of you, especially on TV, and I’ve been a bit shocked at how tactless people can be, asking about things that are obviously very personal.
Speaking of Jude Law, what did you learn about dealing with the press during that time?
Well, obviously I got [my part in Alfie] before I met Jude, but I became a celebrity before it came out as a result of my relationship, and I just remember people being quite harsh and judgmental about that—and what clothes I was wearing.
It seems as if celebrities, like politicians, develop certain stock answers as defenses. You seem to have the same response every time you’re linked to A, B, C, or D actor—
Oh, I’m linked to everyone I worked with. I just started this film with Cillian Murphy, who’s having his second baby with his wife, and they started writing that we were having an affair when we hadn’t shot one scene together. The media want me to be this partying, shagging girl, and the reality is that I was in a relationship for the past four years and I was in a relationship for the two years before that. I couldn’t ever have time to be all the things they want me to be.