Once again, we had the chance to sit down to a roundtable (which was so small it was more of a gathering with 15 minute conversation) with the lovely and talented Carey Mulligan for her role alongside Pierce Brosnan (read interview) and Susan Sarandon in first time director Shana Feste’s film The Greatest.

Much like in her breakthrough role in An Education, Mulligan gives a performance that wins your attention. Although she plays a quite a different character than “Jenny”, she has the same natural presence in front of the camera that she did for her Oscar worthy performance, which to me answered the question many people were asking “is she just being herself in front of the camera or is she that good?” There is something about her that is so simple and yet malleable about her work that there’s no other way to describe it, she is pure talent.

So lets take a look at our little chat with Mulligan where we talk about The Greatest, making it through award seasons and what’s next…

What was the award season like? It seems like such a big deal?

CM: It was long [laughs]. In a way, it was really from Sundance on. Sundance was really the first time I had done any press at all. I had done like one interview in England before that. That was doubly nerve-wracking because I had two films there. It was the first time that I had a big part in any film. The award season was crazy and all good, but ultimately, it is not why you sign up. After a while, you are sort of aching to act. Enough people ask you what you are wearing, and you are like, “I used to be an actress before I wore clothes.”

Does it become distracting at all?

CM: Actually, I wrapped Wall Street at the end of November and then I haven’t worked since. I don’t think I could have done a film in January or February through all of that. It was good to do Wall Street at the same time as releasing An Education because when I was promoting, I always knew I was going back to work. I think it would have been too much and I wouldn’t have been able to do either things properly. It was good to not work for the past couple of months, but I would like to now.

Do you have any scripts you are looking at now? Do you have any new projects lined up?

Carey Mulligan: Nothing lined up.

There are rumors that you will be playing Eliza Dolittle for a My Fair Lady remake.

CM: Yeah. I have heard rumors as well. It is all rumors. I am reading things. I have kind of relieved not really taking longer than like a month off. So, this is the longest time I have not worked. It is kind of alright. I thought it would be horrible, but it has been quite fun.

You seem to have a natural presence on screen without much training, how do you prepare for a role?

CM: It varies. For theater, probably, is the most preparation you do, only because you have five weeks of rehearsal. The work two weeks, or week and a half, is spent sitting around discussing things. You don’t get that time in a film. On this, we had 3 days of rehearsal and then 28 days to film. So really, then you are like, “What is on the page? What do I think? How is everyone else behaving?” You just do it. There isn’t a huge amount of time for preparation or nerves really. You kind of just have to get through the scenes.

It varies, on Wall Street we had three weeks of sitting around and talking about the script and the characters and dissecting the script. Sometimes I think that if I do a lot of research and write a lot of things down that, that makes me qualified to do the job… but often it makes no difference. It just depends on the project.

What have you found works best for mastering an American accent?

CM: God, I haven’t mastered it. I don’t know the secret. It is nerve-wracking because the film is coming out in America. I am distracted by bad accents. On this there was so little budget, I had two sessions with the dialect coach. That was it. There was no coach on set to monitor my accent. On Wall Street, I had a great dialect coach, Tim Monek, who is a very famous. He could come up after every take and tweak things. That was helpful.

I struggle to watch this film. I think it is brilliant and I think she did a brilliant job. I think she has done something people rarely do, and giving characters room to breathe. For me, accents are 95% of what you do. I think I would like to work in my own accent. I think when it comes to emotional stuff, it is really hard to hang onto an accent. If you do think of hanging onto your accent, then you are not in the moment. I always think that I’ll just do it and then if it is terrible, I’ll just fix it in ADR. I hate ADR, but when you do American accents, you have give yourself to the fact that you’ll have to spend a couple days in the studio afterwards. It is not worth it to become preoccupied on set.

What attracted you to this role?

CM: The script came to me through my agent. It was the normal audition process. I think part of the attraction was that she is somewhat lighter. I think she kind of defers her grief to them because she couldn’t possibly feel as much as they do. There is sort of a generosity in that. I think she is trying to find a security and a base, and she is trying to be attached to him by being with them. I like the idea of working with a small company of actors, and with those actors especially. It kind of feels like theater. Susan and Pierce were a huge draw because I didn’t know Shauna. The minute we met and started working together, I just loved her.

The movie was very dark, but not too depressing, and I think it was partly because of your character. Was it difficult to keep that smile through all this grieving and sadness? Do you like playing the dark and serious role?

CM: Yeah, I’m always inclined to be self-indulgent [laughs]. I love getting all dramatic and I need to be held back, actually. I think Shauna did a great job with that. You can’t have four people walking around all the time crying. You need to have some levity and she was good at monitoring that for us, because with 28 days, you don’t really have time. You just play your scene and hope that someone will pull you back if you are going to far, and she did that. She had a real command of the story. She was never overprotective of her material; she was really open to changes.

How does it differ working with female directors compared to working with a male director on Wall Street 2?

CM: Oliver! It is different, but I can’t say if it is a female thing, a male thing, or just a barrel of individuals. With Lone, on An Education, she has a brilliant bluntness where there is no reward or punishment. If you are good, you are good. If you are bad, you are bad and she doesn’t favor you. She is very even. She really was dedicated to telling the story in the best way possible and has no ego at all. I loved her. She had an outsiders perspective in that she is Danish, so she could view England in a way we wouldn’t.

With Shauna, it is her material and she was so passionate about it. She got it made. She trusted us with these parts, and it felt like a family environment because we were thrust together so fast and we had very little time. Susan kind of became the mother of all of us. Shauna worked her ass off and it was insane. She was incredible.

Oliver was in charge of an enormous crew and the responsibility to making a sequel to a really famous film. And in trying to explain in a kind of accessible way, what happened to the economy in 2008, whilst telling a dramatic story as well. And Oliver is a trip. Every story you have ever heard about Oliver just goes out the window when you meet him and he’s great. He didn’t mollycoddle me which I kind of enjoyed. He treated me like one of the boys. You have to be ready to work and never be unprepared. He just expects you to be ready and he challenges you. There were a lot of men on Wall Street so it did feel like a very male dominated environment but then you just had to be a bit ballsy and get through it.

As for your next project to come out, Never Let Me Go, what’s that about?

I shot that last year after Sundance. That’s an adaptation of the Kazuo Ishiguro novel, the guy who wrote Remains of the Day and Alex Garland adapted it and Mark Romanek directed it. And that’s me, Keira Knightly and Andrew Garfield and it’s been described as a Sci-Fi film, which if you’ve read the book it’s just not. It’s sort of a story about the examination of the soul, the existence of the human soul, and what makes us all basically the same and it investigates that in a love story and a friendship story and also in the fact that lives of the characters in the film are limited. Their lives are compressed into about 27 years and how they deal with that.

See Mulligan alongside Brosnan and Sarandon this Friday, April 2nd in select theaters!

(Note: The reason there is no trailer with this post is because I feel like it gives far too much away. Trust me, the less you know about the film the more you will enjoy it!)