Ever since her breakout role in Atonement (as one of the morally reprehensible brats who gets James McAvoy in trouble), Juno Temple has been making her mark in Hollywood with a series of edgy, precocious, and very un-PG roles. In Dirty Girl, set in the eighties, the young Brit plays a rebellious teen from Oklahoma who embarks on a road trip to find her estranged father. You can also see her in the upcoming Three Musketeers and, next year, The Dark Knight Rises. We spoke with Temple about that time she auditioned for Harry Potter, the paparazzi, and getting naked for work.
Before we start talking about the movie, I’m curious where your name comes from.
My mom and dad were at the Grand Canyon and my mom was pregnant and they were standing on this rock. All the rocks are called “Something” Temple, and the sun was setting and they were standing on Juno Temple.
That's sweet! So, you’ve had a really busy career in the last few years, but this is one of the first movies that you’ve really carried as the lead. Do you think you’ll be more sensitive to reviews or box-office numbers than you’ve been with other movies?
No, I don’t wanna be involved with that. Uh-uh. I just want my friends to go see it and then hopefully as many people that will in the public, because I think it deserves to be seen. But, no, I don’t wanna get involved with that stuff. If you start reading that stuff, you start losing your mind.
Many of your roles have been sexual, in Kaboom and Killer Joe. Is it awkward seeing those movies with your parents?
My parents actually saw Kaboom before I did. They haven’t seen Killer Joe yet, but my parents know that it’s my job. It’s not like I’m making porn. I’m faking it. It’s like, you know, I think sex is really important in people’s lives. I don’t get embarrassed by doing that in a movie at all, as long as it’s right. I don’t want it to be gratuitous, because then it’s just gross, but I think if your character needs to do that, your character needs to do that. It’s a little daunting when you first have to take your clothes off in a room full of people, but it’s kind of weirdly liberating.
I think some actors see nudity as a bad career move. Have you ever seen it that way?
No, not at all. I’m very European about it, though. For me, violence is more nerve-racking than taking my shirt off and doing a sex scene. And that was what was interesting about Killer Joe. Obviously it’s a lot of nudity and sex, but I also had to fire a gun, and that was way more frightening.
You took your top off in Mr. Nobody. Were you even 18?
That was a boob double!
Ah. I noticed you don’t have a single kids or teen movie on your résumé. Did you ever at least go after a Harry Potter role? You would’ve been the right age.
Oh yeah, I auditioned but didn’t get cast. Everything happens for a reason.
Were you in elementary school at that time?
I didn’t go out for the first movie. I went out way later in my career. I was, like, 17. I went out for Luna Lovegood.
Can you say anything about your role in The Dark Knight Rises, or are you sworn to secrecy?
I’m not allowed to talk about it. I’m sworn to secrecy beyond all levels.
You don’t get paparazzi following you yet, do you?
No, not really, and I hope it stays that way. I really don’t want that to start happening. That will not be okay with me.
Is there a part of you that feels like once the paparazzi come, though, that means you’ve achieved a certain weird level of success in Hollywood?
I don’t think that means success at all. I think success is working and making movies that you’re proud of, whether people see them or not. That’s success to me. And being independent and following your dream. I’ve wanted to do this since I was 4 years old, and to me paparazzi is not a part of that. It’s a very separate thing that is part of this new generation, which I think is weird because why should anyone want to know me? They should want to see my work. Why would people want to take a picture of me buying eggs and milk in the morning in my sweatpants, with a pimple?