Best known as the mysterious “Skins” sexpot Effy Stonem and now several years into her adventure into independent cinema, Kaya Scodelario has been doing alright for herself. We caught up with the Brazilian-English actress to talk about her new film “Emanuel And The Truth About Fishes”, reggae and kicking-ass on the big screen.
Topman Generation: You were at Sundance London this weekend with your new film “Emanuel and The Truth About Fishes” – how was that?
Kaya Scodalerio: I was really excited, but a bit nervous because I’d invited like twenty of my friends… [Laughs] It was great to see how they acted and how they dealt with it, really! It was alot of fun.
TG: You went to Sundance in Utah this January, too. How amazing was that?
KS: Oh it was great. We were in the mountains and it was snowing and stuff. It’s just gorgeous there. It was also the first time I’d seen the film so I was really, really nervous – I had like a mini-panic attack before walking into the press line…
TG: Oh no!
KS: Yeah! You can see it in the pictures too because my face looks awful! It’s all like, strained… I didn’t know if I was gonna twitch or smile or cry. [Laughs] I look like I had just crapped myself but besides that it was a lot of fun. Everyone is really nice about everything and very kind and I think what’s great about Sundance, as well, is that everyone involved genuinely loves film. People aren’t there just to bring it down or judge it or criticise it, they’re there because they love movies and they just want to watch as many as possible.
TG: So tell us a little bit about “Emanuel…”
KS: It’s basically the story of this young girl who’s always been longing throughout her like; her mother died during child-birth so she never had that maternal relationship and she has a strained relationship with her dad.She’s just a bit lost in the world and doesn’t quite know where she’s going. And then she meets this neighbour who moves in next door and develops an infatuation for her and, consequently, harbours her big secret. It’s one of those films where the whole time you’re waiting for this “bomb” to go off, you know? For the secret to be exposed and to see how everyone is going to react to it. It’s really cool though; it’s got an element of thriller about it and it’s also got quite a lot of dark comedy – which is handy as I’m very sarcastic anyway.
TG: It sounds great. The film sounds like another quite dark independent film – what do you think attracts you to those kinds of roles?
KS:Well I think, for me, I just read a script and I know straight away whether I like it or not and with this I loved it. It was so beautifully written and it was telling a story that a lot of people are scared to tell and I think that’s what films should do. Films should be about exploring different stories and different human reactions; how we are as human beings and what leads us to make the decisions we do. That kind of thing just really interests me at the moment, I like knowing how people tick and what makes them do what they do. It’s just something that I find really interesting. I don’t that I could ever play just a “pretty girlfriend” or just a stereotypical female part that’s just there to get her tits out – that just doesn’t interest me at all, really. I just want to keep pushing myself with every role and keep pushing myself with every film.
TG: Well, could you ever see yourself kicking ass in a big action movie or anything?
KS:Well actually I’m flying out to Louisiana next week as I’ve just got a part in a film called “The Maze Runner”, which is a new young-adult trilogy. That film very much sees me playing an “action girl” but she’s actually very interesting and she’s a very important part of the story, really. It’s been so good for me that I’ve been able to find that studio franchise which features a good, interesting female role. I’m kind of looking forward to being action-y and kicking some ass because none of my friends think I am at all! Really what I’m saying is that I just want to prove to my friends that I can be cool. [Laughs]
TG: Going back in time a bit: your very first role was as Effy in Channel 4’s “Skins” – what was it like being thrust into the limelight like that?
KS: It was weird, we never felt like we were in the limelight at the time. We were just some kids and we all made such good friends that whenever we went out together we weren’t “the Skins cast” or anything – still to this day we all meet up and we are just a great group of mates, really. It was really interesting to see all of the show’s fan-sites and stuff, though. I think “Skins” was one of the first shows to really utilise the internet and to really make social networking part of the experience. We actually won a BAFTA off of internet votes and stuff like that, so that was cool to see that new generation coming through for us on Twitter and on Facebook and platforms like that. We really did have some of the best fans around, people that still Tweet me every day even though the show’s been off-air for two years. They still love it and they still talk about it. It was great to know that we were a part of something that big, you know? Something that caused so much of an effect; something that got people talking and debating… All these things helped generate a really cool buzz for the show. But for us it was just like our uni experience: it was just so much fun. We had such a good laugh doing it.
TG: I think that became part of the show’s appeal: that everyone on the show looked like they were having so much fun that you couldn’t help but enjoy watching it.
KS: It was just amazing because we were all the right age for the characters so all the kind of problems that were in the show were things that we were experiencing in real life too. I suppose it had that kind of honesty about it.
TG: Sounds like you really miss the show…
KS: I do! We just finished filming the final goodbye for the show which should air in July. It was like a two-part mini-film for E4 – a “where are they now?” kind of thing. It’s all about them going from being a teenager into adulthood and what that means, you know? You have to start taking responsibility for your actions and worrying about people who matter to you… That was really interesting to play as it was totally different from the series because the new episodes have a really cinematic feel and they’re just focused on one character, so that was a really great way to say goodbye to the show.
TG: So – getting a bit personal now – what kind of guys to you usually go for?
KS: Oh well I’ve been with my boyfriend for about four years so I kind of only really go for him at the moment. [Laughs]
TG: I guess I can understand that… [Laughs]
KS:But me and my boyfriend are just like best-friends really. We can have a laugh with each-other and we’re always wrestling… I really think it’s important to be having fun in the relationship and not taking things too seriously. I really like interesting people – he’s very interesting. He’s sat next to me right now so I’m going to make him so embarrassed! [Laughs] But yeah, I think it’s about finding someone who’s really fun and someone that you just want to be around all the time.
TG: Well what sort of style do you like on guys?
KS:Well my boyfriend has quite a “cool” style and he’s a bit of a hippy, he likes to just pick up bits and pieces from all over the place. I really do love men’s fashion, though. Just the other day I was talking about how I’d quite like to get into men’s fashion because I don’t know many female designers that actually do men’s fashion – I think it’d be a pretty cool little twist. I think it is really important for men to dress well and even have a bit of their own individual style as well. I think it’s important to change things up every now and again, too; like my boyfriend has just cut all of his hair off and he had all this long shaggy hair and now he’s trying to work a quiff… I think it’s fun to try and find a new look.
TG: And finally – tell us something we don’t already know about you.
KS:Oh god, that’s a good question! Well, I’m really into reggae and Jamaica is my favourite country in the world – I love the energy there and the people. I think that reggae music is just so chilled and it takes me back to when I was doing “Skins” because we’d just listen to so much of it while we were filming. That’s what I love about music, it kind of takes you back to a time in your life or like a memory: reggae just brings me back memories of filming in Bristol and cooking together and just having fun.
TG: Should we be expecting a reggae album from you any time soon, then?
KS:Oh, no way! I can’t sing to save my life! But actually, fun fact: Bob Marley’s biggest selling album was an album called “Kaya” – so how’s that for a reggae connection!