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Filmography • Byzantium
  • Cast Highlights:
  • Saoirse Ronan
  • Caleb Landry Jones
  • Sam Riley
  • Jonny Lee Miller
  • Daniel Mays
  • Character: Clara Webb
    Production Status: On DVD & Blu-ray
    Release Date: 2012 (TIFF)
    Director: Neil Jordan
    Writers: Moira Buffini
    Genre: Drama | Fantasy | Thriller
    MPAA Rating: n/a

    Plot Outline:
    Adapted by Moira Buffini from her own play, the film will see Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan as a mother and daughter who just so happen to be vampires. They arrive at a small British seaside town, where Ronan joins the local school and stands up in class to announce that she’s a member of the fang club. Naturally, her peers think she’s joking, but soon learn the truth.

    She’ll form a closer relationship with Jones’ teenager, a lad dying of leukaemia and confronting his mortality, which in turn causes Ronan to ponder her immortality.

    Gemma’s Role:
    Gemma Arterton plays Clara, the vampire mother of Saoirse Ronan’s character.

    With more vampire movies, TV shows and novels that you can shake a stake at, the question is: what can Byzantium offer that we haven’t seen before? “The whole story feels like a storybook,” says Ronan. “It really feels like a story is being told from this young woman’s point of view. It’s magical and gory and twisted at the same time.”

    “There’s blood and vampires and all of that, but we focus on the mother-daughter relationship,” Gemma assured the Daily Mail (January 13, 2012).

    “She’s brittle and she’s a fighter,” said the actress of the role she plays in the film.

    “We’re getting away from the tradition of biting vampires in this film. Instead the vampires have talons with which they draw blood,” added Saoirse Ronan. These vampires, as Ronan attests, “can walk in the day, they don’t turn into crystals or melt. We don’t sleep in coffins. We have no fangs — we have a talon that grows out of our thumb, and as we’re approaching our prey, it pops out. You use it to slit someone’s neck or pierce their wrist.”

    But Clara’s not just a vampire. Clara’s also a prostitute. “It’s a tough role but more and more I am choosing parts that are as different from the real me as possible. I’m not scared of a challenge. I prefer it that way.”

    Gemma gets to do “my accent for once in Byzantium — she’s from the hood.” Hastings — where the film is set — isn’t far from her native Kent.

    “This isn’t a Disney princess role,” Arterton laughs. “It’s dark and violent, but there’s a lot of nuances and some tender scenes with Saoirse. But it’s fun to do the action stuff. I’ve been working out six days a week — I wanted to be really, really strong. And because Clara’s a prostitute, I use my sexuality as well — in the beginning I’m in a lap-dancing club in all my gear, and I get chased through a shopping centre then kill someone. It’s visually interesting and exciting. It’s such a great role.”

    “It is a female empowerment movie,” says Arterton.

    “I think it’s a beautiful film, boundary-pushing and feminist. It’s the type of film that I would make myself.”

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    Cast and Crew Quotes:
    • “She’s lovely, she’s very, very sweet and somebody who I got on with pretty much straight away. And she’s got a real maternal instinct as well, which I think helped for us to get along even better from the off.”
    – Saoirse Ronan (Byzantium co-star)

    • “We’re in pretty much everything together, we have a lot of scenes together so we got to know each other quite well and she’s just lovely.”
    – Saoirse Ronan (Byzantium co-star)

    • “Gemma’s just great. I did pretty much everything in Byzantium with her, and we just had a laugh, really, and got on very well from the start. We have great scenes together. There are times between Eleanor and Clara where it’s quite tender, very much a mother/daughter relationship. But then there are others where it’s more sisterly, and they’re like cats at each other; they’re a bit bitchier. So it was lovely to get to do those kinds of things with Gemma, and she’s such a terrific actress. It was also nice, actually, to see her play a mother, because she’s only 27 but very much a woman, so she’s quite maternal, and certainly was with me!”
    – Saoirse Ronan (Byzantium co-star)

    • “She’s only eight years older than me but she’s very much a woman and very maternal. At least, she was with me. And she’s such a terrific actress.”
    – Saoirse Ronan (Byzantium co-star)

    • “I got on really well with Gemma right from the start. I think it really helps when you are working with someone who has the same sense of humour as you and that was the case with the two of us. We have such a complex relationship onscreen that we needed to be in a very comfortable place with each other just generally.”
    – Saoirse Ronan (Byzantium co-star)

    • “Gemma’s a wonderful actress, she’s physically beautiful but she’s also just so bloody good, you know? And I think when I saw her in Alice Creed, I thought, ‘okay, this is a woman who’s very professional and very brave, in a way that most actresses aren’t.’ If you want a vengeful, terrifying vamp, to be in a movie, that also brings all the protective instincts of a mother, I can’t think of a better actress to cast than Gemma Arterton.”
    – Neil Jordan (Byzantium director)

    • “She’s a fearless actress with a rare physicality among British actors making her, at the same time, an actress, an athlete, a dancer.”
    – Neil Jordan (Byzantium director)