Whatever you do, don't think of Sienna Miller as the Factory Girl anymore. The actress steps out this weekend in "Just Like a Woman," Rachid Bouchareb's cross-cultural ode to female friendship. Miller plays Marilyn, a woman who's had enough of her no-good husband and teams up with Golshifteh Farahani's Mona, a North African immigrant running from her own dark secret. The two embark on a "Thelma and Louise"-style roadtrip to escape the law and their troubles, with a pivotal audition for a belly dancing troupe at the end of the journey.
Ahead of the film's July 5 release, Miller spoke with NextMovie on the phone to talk about belly dancing, her (somewhat) revised opinions on the city of Pittsburgh and her sordid (fake) affair with actor Sean Bean.
I saw the movie the other day and thought it was really different. What first drew you to it?
I got approached by Rachid Bouchareb, our director, who had seen a film that I made called "Interview" that Steve Buscemi directed. He approached me with the idea of working together. I had seen some of his films and I was a huge fan and jumped at the chance. I kind of agreed before I had seen the script or anything.
What surprised you most when you saw the script? Did it match up with whatever the synopsis that you had heard was?
It did. There was slight language barriers in certain elements we had to overcome. But he wanted to make...well, he's made very political films surrounding predominantly men. And I think he wanted to make something that was more light-hearted and focus on women and that was a really exciting idea. I think it's very rare when a filmmaker approaches you about making a film that's about two women.
This film requires a lot of belly dancing. Is that a trick you have up your sleeve?
No. I barely dance, normally dance, let alone bellydance. I trained for 10 weeks and I was doing a play in London at the time, doing eight shows a week. So, on the days that I didn't have matinees I was bellydancing for four hours a day, which was really hard, actually, and intense. But that's one of the best things about this job: you get to pick up these random skills.
Did learning come easily?
No, I mean it requires an immense amount of core strength and discovering muscles you normally were not aware of their existence before. It took a lot of practice, but it is really satisfying when you achieve something.
You said that you pick up other random skills when you're training for parts. What other random skills have you learned?
Um, nunchucks. I can those.
Yeah. I can do some quite impressive fight moves.
Can you take someone down with them?
I could probably take a small-ish person down.
This sort of reminded me of "Thelma and Louise," but with more bellydancing.
Yes. That was a big inspiration for Rachid, that film. And also "Straight Story," that David Lynch film. It's beautiful--it's just a kind of simple journey.
Do you have any favorite movies about female friendship?
I think "Thelma and Louise" would be the ultimate. I really love that film and it really stands out.
It's so rare that there are films that have multiple female leads and there was no love interest in this, which I liked.
Exactly. Yeah, that's totally right or if you're the girl, you're the girlfriend of the guy. So it was a rare thing.
Did you feel like it being written by a man, was there anything that you sort of had to fine-tune for the friendship or the voice?
You know, Rachid was very open to improvisation and ideas and I think there were certain things where, you know, I didn't necessarily believe...There were things that I fought over to make them more sensitive . I think were some kind of insensitive moments where my character just kind of drives away and leaves her and I really tried to tone that down a little bit and make that a little more sensitive because I feel like women aren't as brutal as some of it was written.
If you could cast yourself in a movie that's already been made, what would it be?
That's really hard. What do I love...ooh, "Braveheart"! I wouldn't mind jumping into "Braveheart."
A little gender reversal? Which role would you play?
Oh, I wouldn't play Mel Gibson! (laughs) Maybe I'll play William Wallace in "Braveheart"! No, that would be absurd! That's just the first one that came to... I'm really into the idea of doing some sort of period drama. I love "Sense & Sensibility." I'd like to play Kate Winslet in that. I don't know..."Amelie." Maybe Amelie, I'd love to be her.
It seems like in the first "G.I. Joe," your character's future was left open-ended. Could you see yourself going back to that franchise?
No, I think that ship has sailed for me. None of the original cast really except Channing [Tatum] went back. And that's the great thing about that franchise, is that there are so many different characters. So no, I don't think I'll be going back.
Did you enjoy making an action movie? Is that your jam?
Um, it wasn't necessarily anything I'd ever done before or ever thought about doing anything before. And it was great and fun, but I'm not particularly physically threatening and finding myself playing a villain. I couldn't shoot the gun without closing my eyes and blinking. I was really not designed for that. It was an interesting experience. Really enjoyable, I made great friends, but not something I felt particularly comfortable in.
I mean, I hear you're fierce with nunchucks.
Um, yes. And I can spin a gun, which I'm really thrilled about!
Speaking of Channing Tatum, you are going to be in "Foxcatcher" with him also?
Yes, I am.
Can you say anything about that movie?
It's a true story based on, I'm sure you might know about, but it's based on David and Mark Schultz, the Olympic gold medal-winning wrestlers. It was just an extraordinary film. The best script I've ever read, hands down. And it's a very interesting comment on America, the underlying tone. It's a ridiculously talented cast, excluding myself. I couldn't believe I was on that set. And Bennett Miller...this will be his third film, but he's just made two very different but equally brilliant films before and I have every faith that it will live up to my expectations, which are really high. I think it is a riveting story.
And on a completely different note, do you like doing karaoke?
I'm obsessed with karaoke! Literally obsessed.
What's your go-to song?
Well, I always end up with "These Boots Are Made for Walking" because it's a go-to. But I want to start branching out and doing — you can see how I serious I am — I always hear songs and I try to remember them and I forget them by the time I'm at karaoke because there's normally alcohol involved! But I do love karaoke. I'd say yeah, the go-to is "These Boots Are Made for Walking."
Are you a private room type person? A live band type?
I've never done a live band! That would be my preference, with enough alcohol to get over the nerves. But no, private rooms...wait! I actually did do a charity live one. It was terrifying, but fun!
Are you good? Or enthusiastic? Or both?
I think I can hold a tune!
What movie of yours do you think deserves a second look by moviegoers?
I think...um, I think all of them. No, "Interview," which is a film I did that Steve Buscemi directed. I'm really proud of that one.
And do you ever Google yourself?
Um, I really try not to because it's like a car cash that you drive past and look at and you only feel horrible once you have looked. But it's quite hard not to. So I have a Google ban on myself and in moments of weakness I will occasionally log on and cry and vow to never do it again, but it's becoming far less frequent.
After karaoke, you Google?
Yeah, if I'm slightly hungover and hating myself. If there's any kind of element of self-loathing going on I'll just add to it by Googling myself. If we're going down, we're going to go down big! I really try not to do it.
And what's the most outrageous lie you've ever heard about yourself?
Oh my god, there are so many! That once I was having an affair with Sean Bean because I cooked him my famous beef stew!
I've never made beef stew or met Sean Bean, so that was pretty extraordinary! We've never even met! Which is funny! And I did (finally) meet him and we just cracked up laughing! We thought it was hilarious, obviously.
Can you cook? Are you a good cook?
I love cooking! I'm English, so I tend to be towards the roasts. Roasted meat, roast potatoes, I make killer roast beef. I also like Tuscan farmhouse things, so like hearty soups and bolognaise and that kind of stuff. I'm not a healthy cook. I definitely need to work on [that] side of things.
Do you have a favorite movie line?
Hmmm, oh my god, so many! Let me think. I'm so bad at being put on the spot. Ahh, maybe something from "True Romance." There's gotta be something great in that. "I like a man who can appreciate the finer things in life, like sugar." That'll do.
When you have to do an American accent, what is the hardest word for you to say? Is there anything that trips you up still?
Um...no, my dad has an American accent so I grew up with that sound. I try to do a Chicago accent and that is tough. That's really hard! The only way I can get into it is if I say "backdraft." There's always, like, a code word for whatever accent you do. There's always a word that you use to get into it. I remember there was this one with Keira Knightley and she had to be Welsh and the only way she could get into it was by going, "Hydrangea!" She kept running around the set saying "hydrangea," which was quite funny.
What's your favorite city in the world?
That's a tough one. New York! Maybe New York.
And I recall a little kurluffle about another city.
Yes...well, the less said about that the better! A long time ago!
Have you been back?
Yes, I've shopped there.
What's your biggest pet peeve?
Oh! This is really stupid, when you're at an airport and you're waiting for your bags and everyone squashes up right next to where the bags come in so no one can see where their bag is! If everyone stepped back three feet, saw their bag coming and stepped forward and took it off, it would just make that whole process a lot less stressful. But no. That's a really petulant peeve.
What movie makes you cry?
Your dream role!
I'm big on "Braveheart"! It's not even that. I think courage in any film makes me cry. That's the thing that gets me, when anyone is really courageous. I mean, obviously, you know like "Life is Beautiful," the bravery in that, that just destroyed me.
Using the formula of your first pet and the street you grew up on, what would your porn name be?
We do it like your first pet and your mother's maiden name, which would make me Beauty Kemp. But otherwise I would be Beauty Saint Leonard! Which actually is pretty good. I lived on Saint Leonard, Paris. My father's is Frisky Lang and my best friend's is Pussy Hunter! So they beat me.