Lily James and Armie Hammer star in Ben Wheatley’s new film adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier‘s Rebecca. I recently got to chat with James and Hammer about working on the film and how they felt about being part of something that is so well-known in popular culture.
Scott Menzel: Congratulations on this film.
Armie Hammer: Thanks, dude.
Lily James: Thank-you.
Scott Menzel: My first question is about the source material. Did you discover the Alfred Hitchcock film, or the book first?
Armie Hammer: Do you want to go first? You go first.
Lily James: You go first.
Armie Hammer: No, no. You go.
Lily James: No, you go.
Armie Hammer: No, you go first.
Lily James: Let’s not waste five minutes saying, “You go”.
Armie Hammer: Okay, fine.
Lily James: I discovered the book first. I read the book when I was about 18 years old, and I loved it. It is one of my favorite books. For me, it was the book. I can’t remember when I first saw the movie but I re-watched it before shooting as well.
Armie Hammer: I came across both on this job. I had never seen the film before, and I abstained until after we were done. Then I’d never read the book. But then, after I got the job, I read it several times, so yeah.
Scott Menzel: Did you have any reservations about being part of a re-imagining of such an iconic film?
Lily James: Well, it was actually a re-imagining of the book, completely. We really weren’t trying to remake the Hitchcock film in any way. In the end, I just felt like there was great source material. Daphne du Maurier’s book is so rich and deep and complex and screwed up. I thought at the end, when I really thought about it, the perfect film for Wheatley, who is a very psychological and dark director, who really delves into humans, and what we’re capable of. Danger, horror, adrenaline, and suspense, really. I think this film is very suspenseful. The book is, so yeah, I was just really excited to be part of a story that I loved so much.
Scott Menzel: Thank-you. How about for you, Armie? Same question.
Armie Hammer: Well, the good thing about this is that everybody, and I mean everybody who was involved in the original project, is dead. They couldn’t really complain about it too much. So no, that wasn’t too much of what I was thinking about. Ben didn’t seem to be worried about it. I was like, “Look. If he’s not worried, I’m not worried. Whatever. It is what it is. Here we go. Let’s try it”.
Scott Menzel: Okay, great. Lily, going back over to you. Since you said that this was inspired by the book, but you did have the original film and the mini-series to go off of. How did you take such an iconic character, and make her your own?
Lily James: I don’t know. I wish I’d done that more, maybe. I don’t know. I guess inevitably, by it being me, it’s going to be my own. I’m going to channel it through who I am. Through my experience. Through what I relate to. Through my interpretation of the character. I didn’t really go about it going, “How can I make this own?”. Maybe I should have, and actually, maybe if I could do it again, I would. But I was really bound to the book. I love the book. I wanted to be as faithful to the book, and to my own experience, how it connected to me, and honor that. But maybe I should have been a bit more actively searching out ways to make it different. I guess I did inevitably. But also, it wasn’t my focus.
Scott Menzel: Well thank-you very much for your time. I am a big fan of both of your work whether it’s Hotel Mumbai, Baby Driver, Mamma Mia, Sorry To Bother You, they are all great.
Lily James: Sorry To Bother You, he’s so great in that movie, isn’t he? I love that movie.
Armie Hammer: Lily and I are both in Sorry To Bother You.
Scott Menzel: I know, she has a small voice cameo.
Lily James: Oh yeah, I’m Tessa Thompson’s voice.
Scott Menzel: I was going to ask you if you actually met when working on that film.
Armie Hammer: No.
Lily James: No, no. We didn’t. But when I watched that movie, I saw that movie very soon … No, wait. Did you do that before this movie? Yeah, before this film, right?
Armie Hammer: Yeah.
Lily James: I remembered being when they told me Armie was doing this, I was like, “Fuck, that’s so cool”. Because I think that performance is, it was one of the best of that year or something. It was so good, Armie.
Scott Menzel: It’s absolutely bananas. He’s so frigging good in it.
Lily James: Bananas.
Scott Menzel: All right, take care. Nice talking to you both.