Carla Gugino on Avoiding Cliches in Her Characters

Actress Carla G

Carla Gugino is out promoting her new film, Every Day, about a semi-pornographic soap opera writer (Liev Schreiber) who is tempted into an affair by Gugino’s character.

The actress, next appearing in Sucker Punch, talked with Speakeasy about how she tries to avoid cliches in her work.

How much can you do as an actor to subvert clichés if you get a script that seems conventional?

If you just play a woman who is duplicitous, like I would say the key to a great femme fatale is that she’s damaged – that she ultimately can’t help but do wrong because her survival instincts are so strong – that’s a more interesting femme fatale for me to play or watch than one who is just, “I don’t like men and I’m not going to f*ck you over.” [But] even with characters like, say, Karen Sisco, Robert Mitchum was a huge influence on that character and that was sort of my way of going “I don’t just want to play a tough chick who is cool,” which is awesome, but I want to play somebody who because the movies she watched with her dad probably were Robert Mitchum movies, and she probably wanted to be like him. So her tendency is not to go with the girls and have cosmopolitans, her tendency is to go home and drink a glass of scotch when she’s depressed. And so those are the kind of things I think where you can hopefully affect things, whether it’s subverting or just adding something that people aren’t expecting.

Hopefully sometimes you bring something that’s not there at all, but usually what you’re just doing is intuiting some element that the writer maybe didn’t fully flesh out that you can actually get there on, and with Amanda [on “Entourage”], Doug was very clear that I want her to go toe to toe with Ari and I want her to behave exactly like a man would behave. But it was also key for me that she didn’t lose her femininity, that it was also like, she needs to be fully a woman doing that, and that’s what’s cool.

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