Juno Temple: ‘I’ve finally hit puberty on camera. Woo-hoo!’

She played a child in Atonement, a rebel in St Trinians and has now finally come of age in Martin Scorseses Vinyl. She talks about famous friends, on-screen nudity and being a quirky weirdo

Juno Temple sits down in a Los Angeles coffee shop, a bundle of energy in a comfy tracksuit, headphones around her neck and waves of blond hair piled on her head like a pineapple. She orders an almond milk latte, and apologises in advance for any strange scratching that may occur, because she was bitten by mosquitoes during the night. And theres one bite on my back that is so bad, I had to scratch it with a fork to reach it. I was really getting my Baloo the bear on. A fork? Well, a plastic one I wasnt aiming for actual bloodshed. I once used a fork to comb my hair, Temple says, because there was a time when I didnt own a hairbrush. I cant remember what film I was shooting, but I was staying in a hotel in London and the fork worked! I felt like Ariel, she adds, wistfully, meaning the Disney mermaid. God, she says, seeing my fascination at these cutlery improv situations, youre never going to let me live forks down, are you?

It is hard not to warm to the girl. I say girl, but Juno Temple is 26 and has been earning her own money since she was a teenager living in Somerset: playing Cate Blanchetts daughter in Notes On A Scandal, and Lola, the child who is raped by Benedict Cumberbatchs character in Atonement (and later marries him). Since then, she has lived in LA for seven years and acted in more films than seems possible, usually playing someone far younger than her real age. A boarding school girl (the St Trinians comedies), or a wild child with crazy hair (Linda Lovelaces best friend), or an English rose with dewy pink cheeks and bags of sexuality waiting to come out.

Bafta gave Temple its Rising Star award in 2013, which was so nice to get, because it was from England. I was like, she does a lucky gasp, oh, you still remember me! But I also think my little brother rigged it, by telling everyone at his school to vote for his sister. Hes a computer whiz-kid he probably hacked in.

Even so, Temple isnt a household name, which might be about to change now that, as she puts it, Ive finally hit puberty on camera! Im playing 22 nowadays. Woo-hoo! Ive left boarding school. Baby steps. Before, Id go for these auditions with an older guy and theyd go, nope, this looks like actual paedophilia.

Her new 22-year-old character is a woman called Jamie Vine, in the American drama series Vinyl, set in the 1970s music industry in an edgy and exciting New York. Temple plays the lone woman working in A&R at a record label, trying to get her talent recognised by the men, who prefer to use her to buy drugs and make coffee. You could call her the Peggy Olson figure, except that shes shagging, dealing cocaine and trying to invent punk in the first episode, so maybe not.

Juno
With Mick Jaggers son James in Vinyl. Photograph: Home Box Office Enterprises

The show was dreamed up by Mick Jagger and produced by Martin Scorsese, with Jaggers 30-year-old son James as the lead a punk singer who gets tangled up with Jamie so perhaps its no surprise that HBO committed to a second series mere days after the first one had begun, even if the critics were not totally convinced. Temples performance has been widely praised, though, and she seems absolutely in love with the whole thing.

Punk played a formative role in her own childhood. Her father is Julien Temple, the British film director who became friends with the Sex Pistols and made The Great Rock N Roll Swindle, Absolute Beginners, The Filth And The Fury and Earth Girls Are Easy. He also had a long career making music videos for, among others, David Bowie (Jazzin For Blue Jean) and the Rolling Stones (Undercover Of The Night), which leads me to ask Juno if she knew Jagger as a child. She is a bit vague on this, wary of being accused of nepotism. I dont remember having hung out with Mick before. Maybe when I was like She gestures the height of a small child. But my dad speaks so highly of him. Me and Jimmy Jagger had a lot of mutual friends back in London, but our paths had never crossed. Weve become very good friends now, though. Hes like family.

She stresses that she had to audition. I did a tape and then, yeah, I had to go and read for Marty [Scorsese]. It was at the Beverly Hills hotel and it was very quick. His direction is so specific. Down to your body language while youre saying one word. Its very rare that hell just say, OK, lets go again, like someone else would. It was one of those moments when youre just, like, whatever happens, wow to be 24 years old and in a room reading for Scorsese. Im all right with that, you know?

Temple then got to work with him for six weeks on the two-hour pilot episode, before he handed over to a series of other directors. That was a shift for me, coming from film. I wasnt used to working with a different director every time. In TV, its so much more about the writers, because theyre the ones creating the universe. The writers are the ones who know whats up.

Juno
With her father, the film director Julien Temple, in 2011. Photograph: Jeff Vespa/Getty Images

When it came to research, she started with her father. I picked my dads brains apart for this time period. Punk was truly a revolution this thing that affected peoples cores, and these kids who were really pissed off with what was going on with the world. It gave them a chance to scream about it. (Whether James Jagger took inspiration from his father is less clear; he has said he took a little bit of Jack Ruby, a little bit of Richard Hell. Maybe a little bit of Iggy Pop and then a lot of asshole.)

Temple grew up listening to punk, still does and, yes, she plays everything on vinyl. (As for new music, she loves Tame Impala.) The fact that my character is discovering the beginning of punk, it feels like, she squeezes herself a bit, Dad would be proud!

Has he seen it? I took him as my date to the premiere. I was nervous, because I was, like, if he doesnt dig it And he loved it. He was the perfect date.

In
In Atonement, 2007. Photograph: Snap Stills/Rex/Shutterstock

Her childhood sounds so dreamy that I dont know whether to seethe with envy or frantically try to give my own children the same experience. She grew up in a 650-year-old house near Taunton, Somerset, with her two younger brothers; her mother, Amanda, is a film producer. Rolling fields all around, ancient oak trees, a hedge that her father cut into a long upward slope so that Juno, who was obsessed with Alice In Wonderland, could run along it and pretend she was getting smaller and smaller. She spent her childhood in fancy dress, was always very independent, and from the age of nine would go on holiday with her best friend in the summer: Wed fly on our own and meet people there. She went to Kings College, a nearby private school, as a weekly boarder, but my parents were down the road. Then she went to the notoriously bohemian Bedales in Hampshire for sixth form (Cara Delevingne, Lily Allen and Sophie Dahl are all alumni), and I loved it. Loved it. To be fair, she does seem to love absolutely everything.

***

How did her parents feel about her working as an actor, at an early age? Aw, man, they were bummed when I first told them. They were like, Ugh. Ohhhh. Youre gonna be told that youre too short, that your tits arent big enough. Youre gonna constantly be told the things that are wrong with you. As a woman in todays society, youre already getting that from all quarters. I think they were also, like, You cant just step into this and be good. You will have to work and you will have to fight for it. My mum sent me to an open audition for Notes On A Scandal, so I could see quite how many other girls wanted to do this. And I queued up and I got the job. That was my first ever audition, and my second was Atonement. My mum thought, Fucking hell, well, surely it goes downhill after this?

It didnt, even though, despite being blond and slim and pretty and white, Temples is not the cookie-cutter beauty Hollywood most likes. Sometimes they might need that beautiful Malibu Barbie look, and thats great, but sometimes they might need the quirky weirdo. And I feel, like, sometimes you get frustrated and youre like I would like to look more normal. If I audition for things, like playing a mousy secretary at the back of the room, I will straighten my hair, tie it up, no makeup and put glasses on. I think as an actor you have to embrace the fact that its not about looking good; its about zipping yourself into somebody elses skin.

Juno
Blouse, self-portrait-studio.com. Jumpsuit, screamingmimis.com. Shoes, gucci.com. Photograph: Amanda Friedman for the Guardian

As for her big hair, New York is much more embracing of it. Theyll be like, Woooaaah, thats a great mane, man. Wow, lucky you! Whereas here in LA people are, like, she puts on a deeply concerned voice, Oh my God, what is that?

Directors do seem to like taking her clothes off, though. One year she went to the Sundance film festival and afterwards someone complained that he had seen her in three films and shed been naked in all of them. I was like, actually, no: in one of them its only side boob. She adds that, when you sign up to a film, you sign up to everything thats in the script. I really believe in that. So dont pansy out on the day. Dont be half-arsed about it. Nudity to me isnt that big a deal. I think if its necessary, its necessary. There are moments where its distracting and not needed, and Ive fought my corner and said no, you dont need to see my tits right then.

Really? Absolutely. Well, OK, in the Vinyl pilot, there you go, thats my butt and theres my boobs. The fact that we were naked in that scene to me made it more palpable, more raw. But I also think Ive been penalised for taking my clothes off too much, for sure.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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