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Bev Cohn: Carey Mulligan
EDITORíS NOTE: The following interview originally appeared in the April 8, 2010 edition of the Santa Monica Mirror and the edited version is being reprinted as a courtesy of that publication.

A Moment With Carey Mulligan
By Beverly Cohn

photo of Carey Mulligan by the writer
The sublime Carey Mulligan.
Photo Credit: Beverly Cohn

arey Mulligan is a beautiful, articulate, charming young woman. Her breakout role in “An Education” earned her an Actress in a Leading Role Oscar nomination. The theme of “lost virginity,” is also in her latest film, "The Greatest," in which she co-stars with Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon. The story is about a young woman who becomes pregnant by her boyfriend who dies and the subsequent impact she has on his grieving family. The following interview has been edited for print purposes.

Q: You lost your virginity in your last two roles. Is this going to be a recurring theme?

Mulligan: In An Education it’s never actually seen and is motivated by completely different reasons. I don’t think she’s ever in love with David (character in An Education) but she made a decision to lose her virginity and goes through with it. With my Rose character, she believes that Ryan is the greatest love of her life. He’s her first love and she believes they will spend the rest of their lives together.

Q: Do you think it’s challenging for the audience to see the love scenes?

Mulligan: I am reluctant to take off my clothes, but the way it was shot, it was not gratuitous. It was very pure and sweet. The remembering of that one special night was in her head and everything was beautiful and colorful and perfect and she will keep that memory forever. The audience had to see it, especially because she is carrying his baby.

Carey Mulligan with John Simmons in the film the Greatest
Johnny Simmons (Ryan) & Carey Mulligan (Rose).
Photo Credit: Paladin

Q: How great do you think the death of Ryan impacted on Rose?

Mulligan: It wasn’t as though she lost a member of her family. She didn’t have a lot of memories with Ryan, but I can well imagine how terrifying it must be to go to a grieving family and tell them you’re carrying their dead son’s baby.

Q: Do you draw on your personal experiences in developing a character?

Mulligan: I don’t use emotional recall or my own life. Without sounding ridiculous or pretentious, I create a person. I make up a history of the character’s life, including memories, images and things that are special to that person and then use that profile in building my character. Besides being more honest, it makes me bolder because I would do things as the character that I would never do as Carey.

Q: Did this method of developing a character grow out of an acting experience that you had?

Mulligan: I use to draw from my own life. When I did Pride & Prejudice, I had to do a scene where I cried and I spent three hours imaging my mom’s funeral. I imagined coffins and all sorts of terrible things to try to conjure up the tears and did that for a couple of years. It was really horrible and untruthful because I was basing my characters on experiences connected to me, not to the character and it became more about how I would act, not how this person would act.

Carey Mulligan with Pierce Brosnan in the film The Greatest
Pierce Brosnan with Carey Mulligan who plays Rose, girlfriend of his late son.
Photo Credit: Paladin

Q: You shot the film in 23 days. Did you like that fast pace?

Mulligan: Yes. I wouldn’t necessarily do it in every film. It was a low-budget film with a small cast so we didn’t have trailers and were thrust together most of the time both on and off the set. You have to be prepared to work as you only get four or five takes and then have to move on so it makes the other actors listen and to try to help each other. I had to do this scene with Pierce where I tell him I’m pregnant but when I woke up that morning, I had forgotten how to act. We tried a few takes but I couldn’t get it. Pierce could see how I was struggling because after every take, I would swear to myself, getting a little “actorey.” Half way through the third take, I got to the point where I should have been at the beginning, so he flipped back and said the first line and we started the scene again.

Q: Was there one moment in your childhood when you decided you wanted to be an actor?

Mulligan: I don’t know because I started acting when I lived in Germany. I was six and was one of the kids in a school production of The King & I. I loved it and just kept doing it. Until I was fourteen, I wanted to do musical theatre, but realized that I wasn’t good enough so I decided to go into straight acting and got my first professional job when I was eighteen, which was Pride & Prejudice.

Q: What did you love about your character?

Mulligan: The thing that I liked about Rose was that she has a generosity of spirit. She walks into this family trying to find a base, but defers to their grief as she soon understands she is there to facilitate their recovery. The reason she wants to tell Pierce’s character about the love she and his son had, was that her greatest fear is that someone will trivialize what happened, like it was young love and didn’t mean anything.

Q: Is there any truth to the Emma Thompson rumor that you will be doing Eliza Doolittle and is there any danger in being compared to Julie Andrews or Audrey Hepburn who originated the stage and screen roles respectively?

Mulligan: I honestly don’t know. (The answer is a bit confusing since "My Fair Lady" is listed as being in pre-production with Mulligan in the role of Eliza Doolittle.) I think with every remake people feel a connection to the actors who originated the roles. I don’t think you should put yourself up against other actresses, but just do the best you can to nail it.

Q: We look forward to seeing you in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

Mulligan: Thank you. It was quite an extraordinary experience working with him.

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Let Bev know what you think about her traveling adventure.

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Thanks so much for those lovely tourism photos, especially of Ireland. I certainly enjoyed all the places you suggested, and am working towards my next vacation. Don’t forget Cuba. That’s an exciting place.

Rosalie, Los Angeles

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Enjoyed your article on Mira Sorvino. Such an interesting background – family, education, career and now human rights activist. I'm not a gossip mag fan so getting more meaty news about movie celebrities from you gives me hope that there are some inteligent life forms in Hollywood.

Peter Paul, Pasadena, CA

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Thank you, Bev. This reminded me to go see the movie, "An Education," which I had already almost forgotten about, having seen the preview a few weeks ago. I enjoy this actress quite a bit--she has a uniqueness about her and she pulls me in. I enjoyed this.

Sandeee, Seattle, WA

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Thank you Beverly,I really enjoyed reading about your intimate conversation with Forest, of whom I am a great admirer. I look forward to seeing the film "Our Family Wedding."

Yoka, Westlake Village, CA

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Thank you for the sending me the beautiful article you wrote about Ireland. We will use your recomendations for hotels in the Southern part. We plan to also go to Dublin and some other Northern cities so I will get some recommendations for these from others. After reading your article, I am getting more excited about going. I think we will be in Ireland for 8 days altogether.

Leah Mendelsohn, Santa Monica, CA

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Very much enjoyed Ms. Cohn's article about Munich, especially the visuals. Though it has been 25 years since my last visit, the piece brought back countless pleasant memories of the city and the people!! Many thanks.

Lawrence, Los Angeles

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Marianplatz and that general area is truly one of the best Christmas celebrations in the world. Between that and Oktoberfest (which I can only imagine) Munich is one of the greatest cities in the world for major annual events.

Christopher Dale, New York, NY

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Hi Bev, you have done some wonderful pieces on some great celebs...Great work. The travel articles are just wonderful too.

Scott Mueller, Huntington Beach, CA

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Your great Zurich article makes me want to go there for the holidays! I love the photos, too, especially the ones of you in the sleigh, the view over the houses and the zoo!

Anna Marie, Santa Monica, CA

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Lovely article! As a European, and having been to Zurich (albeit in summer) I can vouch for this lovely city. Great pictures, too!

Helene Robins, Santa Monica, CA

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Hi Bev,

Nice review, nice seeing you, nice website interface "...Talk to Bev" - Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Richard D. Kaye, Marina del Rey, CA

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Hi Bev,

Your interview with John Cusack is very interesting. I always wondered why these actors/actresses always get top billing when really, if you think about it, the real work come from the animators, writers and tech whizzes who spend far more hours on the movie than those actors. I know, I know, it's the all about marketing. The names of these actors are what bring in the big bucks. Still, I think these actors are way overpaid for the "little" that they do.

I remember that once upon a time, the early animation classics never mentioned the voices behind the characters. I think it was only later when Walt Disney tapped into the voices of known celebrities like Walter Matthau in the Jungle Book or Zsa Zsa Gabor in The Rescuers that the voices became a marketing magnet.

Keep up the good work. I enjoy your interviews as you peer into the lives of the Hollywood celebrities.

Peter Paul of South Pasadena, CA

Ed Boitano's travel blog/review
Three Musical Pilgrimages: Mozart, Grieg and Hendrix

Troldhaugen Villa in Bergen, Norway
Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) could read and compose music, plus play the violin and piano, when he was five years old. Born into a musical family in Salzburg, Austria (then the Holy Roman Empire), he had a unique ability for imitating music, which first became evident when he recited a musical piece by simply observing his father conducting a lesson to his older sister. This led to a childhood on the road, where the young prodigy performed before many of the royal courts of Europe.

Go There

Tom Weber's travel blog/review
Treasures of Ireland: The Irish Goodbye (Dispatch #20)

Irish sunset

The Palladian Traveler brings to a close his 20-part series on the Emerald Isle from an upscale restaurant in downtown Dublin where he files his final dispatch and then quietly slips away.

Go There

John Clayton's travel blog/review
Two "MUST SEE" Truly Spectacular Places in Europe. Here's Why.

Culzean Castle, Scotland
The Han Grotto and Culzean Castle. As the name of my Traveling Boy feature is "Travel With a Difference," it's important to me to always bring you offbeat and unusual tourist places around the world you may not know about. These two fit that category to a T, and they're absolutely worth a visit. One's in Scotland and one's in Belgium. Culzean (pronounced CULLANE) Castle is located near Maybole, Carrick, on the Ayrshire coast of Scotland.

go there

Ringo Boitano's travel blog/review
Highway 49 Revisited: Exploring California's Gold Country

aurora borealis lights up the night sky near Fairbanks
In the 1840s, the population of California was only 14,000, but by 1850 more than 100,000 settlers and adventurers had arrived from all over the world – and they came for one reason: gold. James Marshall had discovered the first gold nugget at Sutter’s Mill in El Dorado County, creating the largest gold rush in history.

go there

Eric Anderson's travel blog/review
Lake Charles’ Family-Size Low-Key Mardi Gras

dressed-up for the Mardi Gras
The Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, the second largest in Louisiana, does not need parents there to avert their children’s eyes. This is family entertainment and children are very much part of it. The main office of the Lake Charles CVB has costumes from last year’s Mardi Gras but it also has figures to fascinate little ones from country boys fishing for their dinner to alligators who have already fed and are rubbing their stomachs.

go there

Fyllis Hockman's travel blog/review
Puerto Vallarta: Magic and Mayhem on the Malecon

Cedar Hill, Washington DC
So I heard that you could spend from dawn to dusk on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and never get bored and I thought, "Okay, I'm up for that challenge." Well, maybe not the dawn part – I'm not a morning person – so I had no problem leaving those early hours to the joggers and those seeking an early start to catch their red snapper for dinner.

Go There

Greg Aragon's travel blog/review
Relaxing at The Inn at Laguna Beach

Greg at Huntington Beach

There is nothing like sleeping in an ocean-front room and awakening to the sounds of waves crashing against the sand. It is one of the finer things in life. And it is exactly what I experienced recently on a memorable getaway to The Inn at Laguna Beach. The adventure began when a friend I pulled off the 5 Freeway in Orange County and took SR 133 south nine miles through winding lush hills and wilderness areas to the ocean.

Go There

Bev Cohn's travel blog
Tim Robbins On His Road To Stardom

Tim Robbins

Award-winning Tim Robbins began his career on episodic television. Robbins' film work, however, is what catapulted him into becoming a major movie star including "Bull Durham" and "Mystic River" for which he won multiple awards. Equally at home behind the camera, he directed the riveting "Dead Man Walking." He is Founder and Artistic Director of The Actors' Gang, which he formed thirty-five years ago and has directed multiple provocative productions.

Go There

Deb Roskamp's travel photo blog
Tahiti and Her Islands


Just their names (pronounce each vowel!) conjure up romantic images: Tahiti Nui, Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine, Ra'iatea, Taha'a. Her people are gentle; the air, tiare-perfumed. Warm lagoons, majestic peaks, tropical fruits from the land and bounty from the sea all tantalize the senses. Paradise! As near as can be found on planet earth. And, in my experience, the finest way to explore her is on a ship designed for that single purpose.

go there

Raoul Pascual's travel blog
Leviticus 20:13
Sent by Tom of Pasadena, CA

It all makes sense now. Gay marriage and marijuana was legalized in the last election. Leviticus 20:13 states
"If a man lays with another man, he should be stoned..." We've been interpreting it wrong all these years!

go there

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