Woody Harrelson’s directing debut, Lost in London, was released last week, retelling the true story of Woody’s wild antics in London which occurred after a fight with his wife Laura, ending in Woody’s arrest for damaging the inside of a taxi. Lost in London marks a first for the film industry, in that it was filmed in one take and live-streamed to theatres across America and one in the UK. We took the opportunity to sit down with actress Eleanor Matsuura, who plays Laura, to discuss the film and her thoughts of the acting industry. Eleanor Matsuura has also starred in Spooks: The Greater Good, BBC’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cuffs, and most recently the fourth series of Sherlock.
What was your first experience like on a TV set?
I was very, very nervous. Every first day on set is like the first day of school. You meet new people in unusual circumstances and hope you make friends and that people like you!
I think I only had two lines in some TV thing playing a receptionist but my hand kept shaking picking up the phone. I remember thinking ‘just try to blend in and hopefully no one will notice that I have no idea what I’m doing’! I kept my head down and tried to take in everything that was happening around me.
But I had underestimated the compassion and kindness of those around me because as soon as I mentioned it was my first job the actors in particular were so warm and supportive.
And what makes a good atmosphere on set?
You learn quickly that most people feel the same way as you and everyone is trying their best and trying to do a good job. Sets can be stressful because everyone is on limited time to get things done so people tend to just focus on their job. I learnt that if no one says anything to you its usually because you’re not doing anything wrong so take that as a good sign!
So do tell, what was it like acting in Sherlock? Was there added pressure with it being highly anticipated by the public?
It’s an honour to be part of a show that is so well loved. Of course there is always pressure when you become a part of something with such a huge following, you don’t want to be the one to drop the ball.
But you must rely on the fact that part of the show’s success is that it is run very well and Sherlock is a shining example of that. It feels like a family and they were very welcoming to me. It was exciting to step on to a show that I was already such a fan of.
You have a long career in stage acting, how does that compare to TV and film acting?
I come from a theatre background, that’s where I did my training and acting on stage is a very different creature to acting for screen. I am still learning about those differences all the time, maybe I’ll never stop learning. There’s a different craft to each thing.
Performing live to an audience requires a very particular set of skills and nerve. There is more of a community in theatre, a better sense of the ensemble. You rehearse a piece of theatre over a certain period of weeks and you become a sort of family. Each night you have a responsibility to tell the story to a fresh audience but if you don’t like your performance you can shake it off and get another crack at it the next night. It feels more alive really and probably more satisfying for that reason.
TV tends to move quickly and you often have to be your own teacher, trusting that the choices you’ve made for your character are the right ones. Film is such a sensitive medium that picks up every tiny subtlety. I think of all the mediums film is the one where you must rely on your director the most to guide you through.
So what drew you to the role of Laura in Lost in London?
I read the script and loved it. I had a good feeling about the part, which I don’t often get but I really thought ‘I know I can do this’. I was more excited by it than nervous, which is unusual for me!
Knowing you were going to play Woody’s wife Laura, what was it like meeting her in real life?
I couldn’t wait to meet Laura. I had heard so much about her, not just from the script, but throughout rehearsals from Woody and friends who know her.
Everyone said the same thing, they talked about how incredible she is – how kind, generous, loving and compassionate. And everything was true. She was all of those things to me, she said ‘play me how you want, the role is yours’.
How did you have to prepare for the role? Was the preparation different to other roles you have played?
Lost in London was unusual in the way it was being shot, which was live. This has never been done before and was a real experiment that Woody wanted to try.
This meant the preparation was also unusual in that we rehearsed it like a play but for film. It felt like we got at the good bits of theatre – the rehearsal time, building a community, working on the script – but with the immediacy and excitement of a live event.
What were the challenges you faced in filming Lost in London?
Well filming anything live is incredibly challenging! We shot on about 14 different locations with a cast of 30 and a crew of about 200 with the film moving from locations inside and out, including car chases, all around London.
Everything was timed to perfection like a well-oiled machine and in the end it went, mostly, without a hitch! In fact in the end I think things that did go wrong are all part of participating in the event that was Lost in London.
It would be a shame to miss any of those bumps out of the final cut of the movie because it is all part of the experience of creating something as ambitious and wild as this movie!
Well we can’t wait to see it! And finally, with the Oscars coming up do you have any Oscar winner predictions?
I think Andrew Garfield should win everything!
Well we shall keep our fingers crossed!
Interview by Hannah Sweeney
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Media Sourced from BBC
Image Credit: Michael Shelford