She found fame as the despondent Effy Stonem in the cult-show Skins, tackled Emily Bronte’s Cathy in Wuthering Heights and played femme fatale for Plan B and Robbie Williams – Kaya Scodelario is princess of darkness and her new role is no exception.
“Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes” traces a young girl’s obsession with a mysterious neighbour (Jessica Biel) who asks her to babysit. Directed by Indie-darling Francesca Gregorini (Tanner Hall), the film probes at issues of motherhood, loss and fantasy – made all the more real by Gregorini’s personal experiences of bereavement and infertility. Kaya plays a brilliantly anguished Emanuel, on the brink of womanhood and struggling to cope with the loss of her mother who died giving birth to her.
Congratulations on the film. What was it like working with Francesca Gregorini?
Incredible. I first read the script early on in the audition process and fell in love with it. It was so beautifully written, so honest and so brave. Having a director you really connect with is essential. I knew I could call her in the middle of the night if there was something I needed to talk through.
Emanuel is a tormented character. Did the film take you to a dark place?
As Emanuel, I was in every scene of the film and it does start to overwhelm you. I’ve got a really cool group of friends, an amazing boyfriend (Shameless actor, Elliot Tittensor) and a great mum so when I go home from work I speak to them and within five minutes I know who I am again.
Do you think you’re attracted to darker scripts or do they find you?
Each job has to have something to really attach me to it. I would never settle for just being the pretty girl or the girlfriend. It’s important to show that women can carry a film just as much as a hot guy can.
How did you prepare for the role?
As human beings, we’re such complicated, incredible things… especially teenage girls. It was easy to tap into that. I was 20 at the time of filming so I was still going through that phase… “Where do I want my life to go? Who is going to be with me through that?”
On that note, where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
I’m just really grateful to have a job and that I love what I do. There aren’t that many opportunities for young people at the moment. I don’t like to look too far forward into the future because you give yourself a bit of a headache. I like not knowing what’s coming next.
You co-star with Alfred Molina and Jessica Biel. Did you pick up any tips from them?
I made a really good friend in Jessica. She is a very warm person, very maternal, caring and open. Before they cast that part, I knew they wanted to get someone very big. I was worried that person would be a bit of a diva but she proved to me you can be very successful and still be a kind human being… With Alfred I was watching one of the greatest actors of all time. In certain scenes I would have to concentrate on not watching him.
Any partying with Justin Timberlake?
No sadly not! I was working constantly while I was out there.
Have you got any upcoming projects?
I go to Louisiana for ten weeks to shoot a Fox film called The Maze Runner. It’s a young-adult trilogy. It’s my first big studio picture. Slightly terrifying!
Do your friends and family go out on set with you?
My mum came out to LA for Emanuel… She’s actually in one of the scenes! My boyfriend is going to fly out to Louisiana to perk me up for a bit because I am going to be away for ten weeks. We’ve never been apart for more than two.
You’ve starred in quite a few music videos. How did the Robbie Williams video for Candy come about?
His people sent an email through to my agent who rang me up and said, “I really think you should do it.” I said, “Okay but is this for me or for you!” I talked to my family about it and they said I had to do it!
What was he like?
He is so funny. His stories are so hilarious. My best friend came down on set with me and she loved every second of it.
You’re very stylish. Do you have any favourite designers?
I love discovering independent designers. I tweeted the other day looking for a t-shirt brand – that’s part of the reason why I love social networking – and I suddenly got messages from people all over the world. There is a great girl out in LA who has a label called Jawbreaker. I love Camden Market too.
Do you have a wardrobe staple?
I love leather jackets. They’re such a cool and essential piece. Louis Vuitton did an amazing one that I wore to the Sundance Festival in Utah. I live in mine.