Robin Wright On 'The Conspirator,' James McAvoy, Robert Redford
Robin Wright is no stranger to playing the leading lady so it does not come as a surprise that she would take on the role of Mary Surratt, the lone female charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, in Robert Redford’s The Conspirator, out now on DVD. Wright was born in Dallas and raised in San Diego, where she began her career as a professional model and later became an actress after she graduated high school. Her road to stardom began in the 80s when she was listed as one of twelve “Promising New Actors of 1986” for her role on the soap opera Santa Barbara. On set, she met her first husband, Dane Witherspoon, who played her lover and husband on the soap opera, as well.
Since then, Wright has built a strong resume of leading roles in films such as The Princess Bride, Forrest Gump and Message In A Bottle. She was nominated for a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award for her performance as Jenny Curran in Forrest Gump. More recently, she played a minor role as Daniel Craig’s office affair in the best-selling novel adapted to film, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and Brad Pitt’s ex-wife in the Oscar-nominated film, Moneyball. Wright was married to Sean Penn for 14 years and has two children with him, Dylan Francis, 20, and Hopper Jack, 18.
In our exclusive interview, Wright opens up about working with X-Men: First Class star James McAvoy and classic Hollywood actor-turned-director Robert Redford. And is The Conspirator a commentary on today's military tribunals, which are so much in the news. “There’s no bias,” says Wright. “In the end, when it comes to the heart, we all have the same heart.”
- Q: What was it like working with James McAvoy? - Uinterview User
- A: He is probably one of the goofiest, funniest guys I’ve been around. We had so much fun. We laughed so much, which was a nice levity.
- Q: Did you have any memorable moments or scenes with James? - Uinterview User
- A: You know, I actually remember between action and cut less than I do in between the set ups and how we would goof off at the craft service table.
- Q: Tell us about working with director Robert Redford. What was that like? - Uinterview User
- A: He’s so great. He’s very laid back. He knows exactly what he wants. He’s very well prepared. And it’s pretty self-evident that he has done his homework in history, and I think he likes to tell a story, the humanistic story, inside a historical event or something that resonates today. There are parallels that you can draw from this movie about today, its government, its administration, but he tells the story about the people within that story.
- Q: What political implication do you think this movie has today? - Uinterview User
- A: I think it’s a no-brainer and I don’t know if we need to highlight it. It’s not really what the film is about. It’s about two people on opposing sides, religiously and politically, who come to an understanding and have empathy for each other and their positions, and they basically end up supporting each other as human beings. There’s no bias. In the end when it comes to the heart, we all have the same heart.
- Q: How did you prepare for you role and the physical transformation to Mary Surratt? - Uinterview User
- A: You know, there wasn’t much to read about her. I read a couple of biographies and I read all of the historical books I could get my hands on about the conspirators, the assassination. It was pretty much what you saw in the film, that’s all I could gain from reading. So to have a great costume designer and great make-up/hair person, I mean once you put the costume on and you get that Manny, Moe and Jack hair I got going, you transport pretty easily once you put that stuff on the body.
- Q: Do you feel that Mary Surratt was guilty or innocent? - Uinterview User
- A: I don’t really have an answer regarding that. Guilt. Innocence. It’s so nebulous and it is in the history books and it was during that trial. It’s more about protecting your child. And what it is she’s protecting, she really didn’t know and she’s not going to implicate based on an unknowingness. She’s going to say, this is what I do know and what I truly didn’t know. And she had vision problems. She couldn’t see properly and that was a hindrance for her in the trial. So I think it was just a mother's love for her son and she ends up having a surrogate son in McAvoy’s character because he’s protecting her and her truth.
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