Waking Up Samantha Morton

Photo: Perou

7:10 a.m., Wellington, New Zealand
Good morning. How are you?
Sleepy. Aw … No, I’m fine. Just driving to work [in New Zealand, where Morton’s filming River Queen, with Kiefer Sutherland]. I’m fine, really.

Well, then, it’s a perfect time to talk about your career. You started out playing rough kids. A car thief, a drug addict, a prostitute, a club kid—
Yes, very early on, like ten years ago, I did all that television stuff, Cracker, Band of Gold, to prove what I could do, and do it to the best of my capability. Now it’s different roles, different directors, different countries.

When you got the role of the mother in Jim Sheridan’s In America, you said, “Finally, I get to play a mum instead of another damaged girl.”
Yes, but once you establish the versatility factor, they believe you can do anything. Since I’ve been doing it since I was 12, it’s old hat. I’m past the days of “Please see me for this role.”

Now you’ve played this romanticized mute in Sweet and Lowdown, this sexy, activist lover in Code 46, this perfect wife in Jim Sheridan’s In America, a highly evolved telepath in Minority Report. These women are fierce.
I’ll say that some of the roles don’t appear as such on the page at first—but I come along and, say, give them a little more grounding, so therefore they do appear stronger.

I guess it’s my whole approach. I do find it difficult to play women who choose to be victims.

Your last few characters have been more like saviors, the woman-of-your-somewhat-realistic dreams. In Enduring Love, you play this strong girlfriend whose boyfriend (Daniel Craig) is spiraling out of control, while she holds steady.
I think she’s the closest to me that I’ve ever done.

Like you were saying, I guess it is nice to play someone who isn’t having a breakdown.

Do you miss New York at all?
Well, I lived there for a long time. Actually, I feel more at home in New York than London.

The first time I got off a plane, I burst into tears. I don’t know. It was a physical thing, not something thought-out. That sense that people get—this is where I belong. I can be me here. And I’ll be coming back to New York shortly!

To play Diane Arbus in that new movie.
Yes, I’m a big fan of hers.

Well, we’ll see you then.
Take care.

You too.
Have a good day. Or is it evening?

Enduring Love
Opening October 29

Waking Up Samantha Morton