Burnt Sienna

Photo: James King/Exclusive by Getty Images

‘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.

Of course.
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.

The journalist (Steve Buscemi) and his prey (Sienna Miller) in Interview.Photo: Jojo Whilden/Cinemavault/Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

You’ve been working with Murphy on the Dylan Thomas film, The Edge of Love?
It all came about very last minute [she replaced Lindsay Lohan, who dropped out] and turned out to be fantastic, working with Keira Knightley and Matthew Rhys and Cillian, running around the Welsh hills. It was spring, the bluebirds were out, and the lambs were being born—so it was this magical time of year. It’s kind of a dreamy project, about friendship and love and all those gorgeous things that girls like …

Isn’t there some reckless romantic story—and you play Thomas’s lover?
No, Keira plays the other woman. I’m just the boring old wife.

A far cry from Edie. The Weinsteins were pushing hard for an Oscar for you last year, but it didn’t pan out. Why?
I was still shooting scenes a week before Factory Girl came out. If you’re going to attempt to do a campaign, you need to have time to do it, and we didn’t. We’d already committed to a release that was unrealistic, and the film wasn’t ready. I mean, it’s lovely to have Harvey believe in you, and he was fantastic to me, but at the end of the day, it’s about how people respond to the work you’re doing.

You’ve said the press treats you unfairly. Here are the nine most recent articles about you, courtesy of Google News.
Oh, no, I don’t want to know.

“Sienna Miller’s Love Affair With Wine.”

“Is Sienna Miller Too Skinny?,” “Knightley and Miller’s High-Calorie Curry Diet,” “Sienna Miller Dumped by James Burke,” “Sienna Miller Tags After Uninterested Jude Law,” “Sienna Miller and Keira Knightley Swap Parties for Board Games,” “Sienna Miller Tries to Bribe Barman,” “Fashion Disaster: Sienna Miller,” and “Sienna Miller’s F-Word Fury at the Paparazzi.”
Oh, God, it makes me feel sick.

So they’re not all true? Not even the board games?
Keira and I played Perudo, a Mexican dice game, while we were in Wales. A curry diet? Absolutely not true. I’m not too skinny—definitely not at the moment. Oh—don’t ever read that to me again. Absolute crap. Mental! Anyway, I’ll go upstairs and hang myself right now.

Nothing rings a bell?
Well, I have told the paparazzi to fuck off—that sounds like something I’d do.

Burnt Sienna