Isabel Lucas, ‘Immortals’ Star, on the Differences Between Michael Bay and Tarsem
Isabel Lucas probably isn’t whom you’d first picture playing Athena, the goddess of wisdom: In fact, the Aussie actress tells us she had a different Australian actress star in mind to play Zeus’s daughter in ‘Immortals.’ All part of director Tarsem Singh’s vision of younger than usual Olympian gods, as Lucas told Moviefone. The actress spoke to us about her new film, the differences between Tarsem and Michael Bay (who directed her in ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’), and what’s going on with the long-delayed ‘Red Dawn.’
Did you have to get in shape to play Athena?
No. Actually, Tarsem didn’t want me to necessarily to be all muscular. The guys were all training months before. So I didn’t have to do anything, except for the martial arts training for the sickle fight. And that was for about two or three weeks and a couple of hours a day. That ws fun. It was intimidating too because I haven’t done any of that sort of martial arts before, so it was a new thing to take on.
What appealed to you the most about this part?
Mostly I think what drew me was Tarsem being involved in directing. He’s incredible as a director and he has such an artistic vision. These films have all been done before, but his style is so breath-taking, and the colors … maybe it’s the Indian influence, but they’re just very unique to him and so original and so beautiful and so brutal all at once. I really wanted to work with Tarsem and then just to be offered the role of a goddess is very special. I grew up being very interested in Greek mythology because my mum read to my sister and I. Nothing that we’d really remember, but it sort of vague memories of mum telling me stories. I didn’t really need to do a lot of research on Greek mythologies, it was more about doing research on the archetype of the Athena character. I really loved revisiting that material.
When you read the script, did any of the violence make you wonder if you should do the movie?
I did, actually. I was really sort of being blown [away] by every blow but I felt like it was worth it. And the moral of the story… it’s about a man who’s been ostracized by society. It’s his journey to becoming a hero, changing the fate of humanity and bringing peace to earth. Yes, there is a lot of violence and I was put off a little, but I think all the other elements coming together, it was all worth it.
How does Tarsem differ from Michael Bay as a director?
They’re actually quite black and white in terms of how they work. I think that they’re both very technical directors, they certainly have that in common. They’re also very visual directors. They can really stamp their own style. However, I think Tarsem’s approach is very philosophical, the way he asks so many questions and involves everyone right down to every detail and he’s very approachable to ask questions, to talk to. He explains things very easily. He’s very much an actor’s director as well. And also, just he’s just a whole lot of fun. He’s a very enthusiastic, full of life, very passionate and very opinionated and full of humor. But really a lot of fun to be around. And really has good intentions behind everything. His heart is on the tip of his … sleeve?
So you could come to with him with suggestions?
Yes, you’re not so much just a chess piece, he wants you on board because he wants you to be creatively involved.
Did you make any suggestions he incorporated into the movie?
Yes, it was always a collaboration.
What’s one idea you gave him that he took?
Well, actually, one of the things that was more his idea and I ended up agreeing with, was to play Athena a lot younger. Obviously, he cast the gods a lot younger than how they were depicted in history. We remember Athena as being a middle-aged woman and she’s stoic and serious and she’s a woman of wisdom and was in the war providing council. You can’t be young, in your early 20s and doing that. I think that was an interesting choice for him and he really encouraged me to play her more passive and more childlike than how she was remembered. It’s sort of, in the way, the seed of what she became. At first, I was resisting that, it’s not Athena. But then I thought that she’s probably a woman in her mid-30s like Cate Blanchett. That’s really whom one would imagine to be playing Athena. Personally, I would imagine her. But that’s not what he had in mind. So it was a younger Athena. We can see the arc for what she grows to become.
This does lay the groundwork for a sequel. Is that something you’ve talked about?
I think the producers and director would have to answer that, but they were definitely talking about it.
Would you want to come back and play an older version of her?
Sure. I love Athena. I love all the goddesses and the archetypes and what they represent because I think they’re always going to be relevant not just to women but to humanity. They’re living energy. There’s a lot we can still learn from them.
What’s going on with ‘Red Dawn’?
Good question. I think it’s going to be coming out next year. That’s the rumor that’s going around. With Chris [Hemsworth] having done ‘Thor’ and the hype that’s surrounding him now, it seems like they might pick it up on that wind.