Evanna Lynch Talks with MuggleNet About Being True to One’s Self

In the Potterverse, Evanna Lynch may be known for her role as Luna Lovegood, but her advocacy for being true to one’s self has become a greater reason for adoration from Harry Potter fans. In her new film, My Name Is Emily, Evanna returned home to Ireland to bring Irish culture to life on screen through the eyes of a defiant and determined 16-year-old.

After losing her mother in a tragic accident, Emily and her father are a fairly odd dynamic duo, whom most people think are crazy. After one particular incident, Emily’s father is taken from her and institutionalized. Emily enters the foster care system, and she becomes an outcast at school – scrutinized by both peers and teachers. When her father’s annual birthday card fails to arrive in the mail, Emily enlists Arden – the only fellow student to ever try to befriend her – to travel north with her to break her father out of the mental health facility.

 

 

With the tragic death of her mother, and quirkiness of her and her father, it would be difficult not to notice the similarities between Emily and our favorite Ravenclaw. When asked about the two characters, Evanna discussed the similarities between Luna and Emily:

There are a lot of similarities, I think, and it’s so true in her family life as well. Even the fact that [the father is] the philosopher and has all these crazy ideas and attracts this cultish following is very similar to Xenophilius. What attracts me to all characters is just authenticity and that boldness of self-expression, which I think they both do. Luna does it effortlessly in that she’s who she is, and she has no problem with that, and she doesn’t ever try to inhibit or change herself. And I think Emily is the same way, slightly more defiantly. I think Emily is a lot angrier at the world and sees so much fakery and pretension among her teenage peers, and I think she rebels against that by being so authentic and so true to herself. I just admire women like that because I, certainly growing up, felt unusual, felt odd, and felt I didn’t really have a place where I fit. But I always felt uncomfortable like that, and those women, like Emily and like Luna, […] give me the confidence to just fit in that uncomfortable space.

Both the characters of Emily and Luna are independent and true to themselves, despite what their enveloping societies tell them. Luna tends to be optimistic in the face of adversity – hopeful and full of sunshine – even though she has experienced roughly the same tragic past as Emily has. Emily, on the other hand, is rougher around the edges and cynical. Evanna discussed how, despite their similar pasts, both independent characters are relatable to the audience in light of their differences:

I think it’s that everyone has that urge to be themselves. So when they see someone else being that boldly and unapologetically, they’re inspired to just be that and to let themselves be. Because it is such a relief. I always remember whenever I would come back from a break from filming the Potter movies and come back to Luna; every time I would get into her costume and get into that mindset, I would just feel such a huge relief to not have to pretend and to not have to worry about what people think. Because that was Luna’s essence, that she didn’t take on other’s opinions and she was so comfortable with who she was. So I think it’s that we see that. We see them being true to themselves, and Emily just saying exactly what she feels in every moment and say, ‘Oh yeah, I feel that too! I just wish I could. I wish I wouldn’t upset people or it wouldn’t cause controversy when I was that way.’ So it’s almost like a yearning to get back to who you are. It’s characters like that [that] give you permission to be yourself. I think that’s what it is.

 

 

As Emily and her friend Arden travel north, both teenagers face a journey of personal discovery through their brokenness and woundedness, a metaphorical journey most audience members can relate to in one way or another. We discussed the emotional heaviness of the film, the characters’ interior journeys, and the lessons Evanna would like the audience to take away from the film.

Just like the characters of her two leading roles as Luna and Emily, Evanna emphasized the importance of staying true to one’s self, not caring what others think. Like many of us, it is something that Evanna is striving to do consciously. We discussed the biggest takeaways of the film, especially for female audience members.

[You] being truthful will connect you to the right people. You having the guts to put yourself out there unfiltered, uncensored… that’s how you meet the people and that’s how you have the most growth. There have been times where I will try [to] hide certain parts. Even recently, about two years ago, I started being more vocal about […] veganism and animal rights. I really thought that there was going to be a backlash and people were going to argue with me and turn against me. And there certainly was to a certain extent, but there was far more love and far more reactions from people saying, ‘Oh yeah, this is what I believe too and keep going.’ That was just such a lesson to me that the sooner you own up to who you are, the sooner you’ll find out what you’re supposed to do and who you’re supposed to work with and live with. So yeah, I think both of those characters embodied that just by… ultimately, you can’t be anyone but who you are, and sometimes we just take too long hiding from that, and it only holds you up from your journey… yeah, holds you back.

 

 

Much of Emily’s interior journey comes from a background of emotional hurt and betrayal. Her parents, the two people who taught her to love the most deeply in her life, were taken from her. Emily’s relationship with her father influences her in many ways. Evanna opened up about what she thought of her character and her relationship with her father:

Emily […] is a lot more mature and a lot [wiser] than [her father] in that respect, that she… she is trying to… she doesn’t know how to deal with grief, but she’s at least not hiding from it. She’s not pretending it doesn’t exist. And that’s actually something I’ve really noticed in… I used to be a lot more into self-help books and that than I am now because I found [that] a lot of them are… it is actually what Emily talks about in the film, that they give you this pressure to be happy, and there is always this idea that the end goal is happiness. But what if you’re not feeling happy and… it’s as if all the other feelings you have are not valid or they’re not right, and you shouldn’t have them, and I think that’s very damaging. That’s not something you want to teach to people – young people, especially – and I think that only makes mental illness worse and more challenging when you don’t acknowledge those feelings. So I love that Emily is able to… even though she can’t really explain it to [her father], she is able to feel, and she’s not afraid to feel and that she is pushing her dad to feel and just to be real and to stop running away if he wants to.

I suppose she does take after her father in that she thinks she can win by knowing things, and she doesn’t… at first, she doesn’t have a lot of respect for Arden because he puts everything out there. He shows all his feelings. He’s so uninhibited about who he is and what he feels for her. He doesn’t disguise that, and I think that that’s very… that puts Emily on guard. It makes her more wary of him because I think Emily is someone who… she doesn’t take well to being abandoned or being betrayed. I think she feels things very deeply. […] So when that intensity isn’t reciprocated, when her father falls out of her life after being there her whole life […], I think it’s just so hurtful that she just doesn’t want to trust anyone ever again. And she expects that everyone will disappoint her, so she has this spiky, spiky exterior.

[…] I have so much sympathy for her, and I love that she doesn’t try to please people. […] And I so admire that Emily didn’t adhere to those teenage norms. She wasn’t coasting from relationship to relationship off her own insecurity. […] It’s because she’s so afraid of loving and losing again, and she’s lost so much. And she realizes that it’s such a risk to put your trust and give your heart to someone else. So that’s why she has that spiky, challenging, rebellious attitude. Because all these boys and people… they need to prove it to her. They need to prove that they’re worth it. And I think she hadn’t realized that about herself, that she is actually limited, because she thinks she’s so open-minded and she’s so ready to learn from the world, but she’s not ready to learn from another person. She’s someone who would have so much respect and reverence for books and forget that they’re actually written by people. And that she has to acknowledge that human part of herself as well, as much as her dad does.

 

 

Spending days together on the road in an antique car, there is not a lot for Arden and Emily to do other than get to know one another and reflect on their wounds and their brokenness. The two characters help each other grow and mature. Evanna gave a little more insight into their personal interior journeys:

I think that’s Arden. He’s constantly challenging her in several ways, and he’s not trying to be better than her or win her or anything. He’s just charming her by being himself and not being ashamed of that in a way that she isn’t. Because I think she has this sense that she has to be smarter and be ahead of everyone and be so mature all the time. And Arden literally just comes to her with his heart in his hands [laughs], and he’s not trying to embellish that, and that’s disarming to her. […] I think it’s that bit in the car as well, where he gets angry with her about what she’s stolen from the shop, and then he tells her that, ‘You don’t know everything.’ Oh, and there’s another bit where he says, ‘You don’t ask, so you don’t know.’ And I think she realizes how she has actually been quite selfish and how she has underestimated him, and just because he’s not showing everything of himself doesn’t mean there isn’t more there. And I think that’s very shocking for her, and she hadn’t realized that she was that way. That is a hurtful thing to say, to tell someone, ‘You are actually selfish. You don’t ask these things. You don’t think about other people,’ and that really pulled her up that she’d missed that ability to care and to love and to let other people in.”

 

 

The fictional storyline that My Name Is Emily offers may be a source of inspiration for viewers, but director Simon Fitzmaurice brings an additional, real-life inspirational tale to the film – his own. Diagnosed with ALS in 2008, the award-winning short film director refused to let increasing paralyzation stop him from achieving his dream of creating a feature-length film. Simon wrote the script for My Name Is Emily with his eyes, using Eye Gaze iris recognition software, and started an Indiegogo project in 2013 in order to raise funds to begin filming.

After seeing My Name Is Emily, it became clear that Simon’s courageous journey was instrumental to the emotional power of the film. When asking Evanna what it was like to work with Simon, she said that she knew Simon was going to be “an amazing inspiring force” even before she met him.

He just has such an incredible passion for life and for art and story, and I really believe that urge to be a storyteller and to express what’s in his soul and what’s in his heart – that is what drives him. That’s what keeps him alive, really, and I know I just wanted to be around someone who had come through these things and had stared death in the face and decided to live, because I think we all have moments where we question what’s our purpose in life, and we are not sure, and we fumble about for that, and Simon has always been so clear, so crystal clear on what it is he’s meant to do in the world, and doesn’t have any doubts.”

Like the characters of Emily and Luna, Simon shares Evanna’s drive to be himself without caring what others think of him. Evanna admired this as one of Simon’s many strengths and its effect on the atmosphere around set:

[…] that’s actually kind of rare to find in an artist because we’re sensitive souls, inherently, and I think, being so sensitive, you often are victim to other people’s opinions, and Simon doesn’t… nothing holds him back, and I love that about him. On set I remember being struck by how he would always… he would just say what he was feeling – he had to be very economical with his words, actually very direct because obviously he can’t waste words the way we can – and I remember just [when] he called George and [me] over to him, and he literally just said, ‘I love you,’ because he was just so sweet and disarming, and it made me think… it was like, ‘Oh, he does that because he doesn’t give a [censored] what people think because he knows that… he’s been told so many times that he could die, so he’s not going to let stupid insecurities and social – I don’t know – appropriateness… he’s not going to let that stop him from expressing himself, and that totally inspires me: how fearless he is in his self-expression.

 

 

Simon Fitzmaurice and Evanna Lynch’s tale of independence, vulnerability, and staying true to one’s self has already made its debut around the world and won five of nine film festival awards nominations.

Evanna Lynch’s new film, My Name Is Emily, will be released in the United States (in New York and Los Angeles) on February 17. The film will be available through Video on Demand starting February 24. We are excited to see another wonderful film from Evanna coming just around the corner – in less than a week!

Evanna discussed more about the film, insight into her character, the most challenging aspect of the role, and what is was like to return to her home in Ireland after living in Los Angeles. Read this and more in the full transcript of our conversation with Evanna below:

Evanna Lynch "My Name Is Emily" Interview Transcript

Transcribed by Katy Cartee Haile, Luna Irazábal, and Sarah Beth Krutul

Evanna Lynch: Hi, Catherine!

Catherine Horvath: Hi, Evanna! How are you doing?

Evanna: I’m doing good, and you?

Catherine: Fabulous. I don’t know if you wanted to start with an easier question or a more emotional question, but…

[Evanna laughs]

Catherine: … the movie itself is really great, and it was a lot of feelings for me. [laughs]

Evanna: Uh-huh.

Catherine: So you can take your pick.

Evanna: Start easy for now.

Catherine: Start easy?

Evanna: Yeah.

Catherine: So I think it would be a little remiss not to note the parallels between Luna and Emily in the movie.

Evanna: Mhm.

Catherine: You know Luna’s background. Her mother has a tragic accident and passes away, and her father and her are the only two against the world.

Evanna: Yup.

Catherine: And they’re considered a little odd. I just wanted to know if there was something specific that draw you to these two characters who show some similarities.

Evanna: Yeah, definitely. There are a lot of similarities, I think, and it’s so true in her family life as well. Even the fact that he’s the father of the philosopher and has all these crazy ideas and attracts this cultish following is very similar to Xenophilius. What attracts me to all characters is just authenticity and that boldness of self-expression, which I think they both do. Luna does it effortlessly in that she’s who she is and she has no problem with that and she doesn’t ever try to inhibit or change herself. And I think Emily is the same way, slightly more defiantly. I think Emily is a lot angrier at the world and sees so much fakery and pretension among her teenage peers, and I think she rebels against that by being so authentic and so true to herself. I just admire women like that because I, certainly growing up, felt unusual, felt odd, and felt I didn’t really have a place where I fit. But I always felt uncomfortable like that, and those women, like Emily and like Luna, they give me the confidence to just fit in that uncomfortable space.

Catherine: I’m right there with you. And that’s another thing, too, that I noticed about the characters, as you were saying. Their authenticity also makes them relatable.

Evanna: Mhm.

Catherine: For Luna, she tends to be so optimistic in the face of adversity and she is so hopeful and so sunshiney, even though she has experienced roughly the same tragic past as Emily has. And Emily is a little bit more rough around the edges and cynical.

Evanna: Mhm.

Catherine: But is there anything that you think makes these two so relatable to the audience?

Evanna: I think it’s that everyone has that urge to be themselves. So when they see someone else being that boldly and unapologetically, they’re inspired to just be that and to let themselves be. Because it is such a relief. I always remember whenever I would come back from a break from filming the Potter movies and come back to Luna, every time I would get into her costume and get into that mindset, I would just feel such a huge relief to not have to pretend and to not have to worry about what people think. Because that was Luna’s essence, that she didn’t take on other’s opinions and she was so comfortable with who she was. So I think it’s that we see that. We see them being true to themselves, and Emily just saying exactly what she feels in every moment and say, “Oh yeah, I feel that too! I just wish I could. I wish I wouldn’t upset people or it wouldn’t cause controversy when I was that way.” So it’s almost like a yearning to get back to who you are. It’s characters like that [that] give you permission to be yourself. I think that’s what it is.

Catherine: That sounds so wonderful. There are so many things that I took away from this movie, so many emotions, My Name Is Emily.

Evanna: Mhm.

Catherine: Honestly, do you think that would be one of the biggest lessons you would want an audience member to take away from the film? Especially a girl? Especially a female audience member who could identify with Emily?

Evanna: Yeah, absolutely, just that you being truthful will connect you to the right people. You having the guts to put yourself out there unfiltered, uncensored, that’s how you meet the people and that’s how you have the most growth. There have been times where I will try [to] hide certain parts. Even recently, about two years ago, I started being more vocal about [unintelligible] veganism and animal rights. I really thought that there was going to be a backlash and people were going to argue with me and turn against me. And there certainly was to a certain extent, but there was far more love and far more reactions from people saying, “Oh yeah, this is what I believe too and keep going.” That was just such a lesson to me that the sooner you own up to who you are, the sooner you’ll find out what you’re supposed to do and who you’re supposed to work with and live with. So yeah, I think both of those characters embodied that just by… ultimately you can’t be anyone but who you are, and sometimes we just take too long hiding from that and it only holds you up from your journey… yeah, holds you back.

Catherine: I was going to touch on what you said about becoming who you are and hiding from yourself. In My Name Is Emily, I think her father does that a lot: He hides from the world and he hides from himself and he even hides from Emily. Would you be able to elaborate on Emily’s relationship with him and others based on their trials of personal journey, like self-journey and finding who they are?

Evanna: Yeah, I think… I mean, if we’re going to take it back to Potter, her father is a true Ravenclaw…

[Catherine laughs]

Evanna: … that he finds solace and comfort in ideas, and he has this… I think Ravenclaws often have this sense that you can work everything out by thinking. You can think through every problem and you can master your mind. If you’re mastering your mind, you can master your emotions. And I think he definitely gets lost in the facts and betrays… not betray, but he ignores the human side of himself that is actually hurting and that there is no explanation for these feelings; they’re irrational and they’re totally inconvenient, but they’re there, and I think… Emily, she is a lot more mature and a lot [wiser] than him in that respect, that she… she is trying to… she doesn’t know how to deal with grief, but she’s at least not hiding from it. She’s not pretending it doesn’t exist. And that’s actually something I’ve really noticed in… I used to be a lot more into self-help books and that…

[Catherine laughs]

Evanna: … than I am now because I found [that] a lot of them are… it is actually what Emily talks about in the film, that they give you this pressure to be happy, and there is always this idea that the end goal is happiness. But what if you’re not feeling happy and… it’s as if all the other feelings you have are not valid or they’re not right and you shouldn’t have them, and I think that’s very damaging. That’s not something you want to teach to people – young people, especially – and I think that only makes mental illness worse and more challenging when you don’t acknowledge those feelings. So I love that Emily is able to… even though she can’t really explain it to him, she is able to feel and she’s not afraid to feel and that she is pushing her dad to feel and just to be real and to stop running away if he wants to. I’m not sure if I answered your question…

Catherine: No, you did. [laughs] You definitely did.

[Evanna laughs]

Catherine: No, I love talking to you because you always lead right into another question just based off something that you said, not even one that I had planned but…

Evanna: Oh, good!

Catherine: [laughs] … just one that gets my thoughts stirring. Yeah, not always finding that happiness or forcing people to be happy, I think you’re definitely right. That comes out too in a lot of the characters as well, especially Emily and her soon-to-be boyfriend/not-boyfriend.

[Catherine and Evanna laugh]

Catherine: Everyone has a brokenness to them and a journey to go through in life with this brokenness, and even though… I think Emily makes that mistake too: She looks at this boy who wants to help her so much and thinks that his life is perfect – he has two parents who he lives with – and obviously from a third-person audience perspective, we know that his life isn’t perfect…

Evanna: Mhm.

Catherine: … and she needs to know that as well. So do you have any more insight [into] your character’s journey, like both internally and externally about her brokenness and finding out and discovering other people and other people’s brokenness?

Evanna: Yeah, I suppose she does take after her father in that she thinks she can win by knowing things, and she doesn’t… at first, she doesn’t have a lot of respect for Arden because he puts everything out there. He shows all his feelings. He’s so uninhibited about who he is and what he feels for her. He doesn’t disguise that, and I think that that’s very… that puts Emily on guard. It makes her more wary of him because I think Emily is someone who… she doesn’t take well to being abandoned or being betrayed. I think she feels things very deeply. She’s very, very sensitive. So when that intensity isn’t reciprocated, when her father falls out of her life after being there her whole life – she almost hero-worships her father, having that sense of loyalty to him – I think it’s just so hurtful that she just doesn’t want to trust anyone ever again. And she expects that everyone will disappoint her, so she has this spiky, spiky exterior. I remember watching the movie back and being like, “Damn! She’s not very likeable, is she?”

[Catherine and Evanna laugh]

Evanna: I remember not thinking about it because I have so much sympathy for her and I love that she doesn’t try to please people and she doesn’t smile at boys or… you know that thing that teenagers do when someone else develops a crush on them? You suddenly… I’ve done this when I was a teenager. When someone fancied you, I suddenly started thinking I like them too. It’s only because you’re so flattered by someone liking you. You’re so insecure and you think, “Oh, it’s so great that someone likes me,” and it has nothing to do with your actual feelings. And I so admire that Emily didn’t adhere to those teenage norms. She wasn’t coasting from relationship to relationship off her own insecurity. I love that she… well, she didn’t lose herself to someone else…

Catherine: Yeah.

Evanna: … but I think there’s still a part of her that… it is also fear. It’s not because she doesn’t want to. It’s because she’s so afraid of loving and losing again, and she’s lost so much.

Catherine: Mhm.

Evanna: And she realizes that it’s such a risk to put your trust and give your heart to someone else. So that’s why she has that spiky, challenging, rebellious attitude. Because all these boys and people, they need to prove it to her. They need to prove that they’re worth it. And I think she hadn’t realized that about herself, that she is actually limited, because she thinks she’s so open-minded and she’s so ready to learn from the world, but she’s not ready to learn from another person. She’s someone who would have so much respect and reverence for books and forget that they’re actually written by people.

[Catherine and Evanna laugh]

Evanna: And that she has to acknowledge that human part of herself as well, as much as her dad does.

Catherine: One of my favorite scenes was in the grocery store when Arden tells her that she makes him feel stupid and she turns and looks at him and goes, “Well, that’s one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.”

Evanna: [laughs] Yeah, it’s funny that that’s such a compliment to her.

Catherine: [laughs] Yeah, that’s a compliment to her. She’s really abrasive for most of the film and then by the end, when she’s having coffee with her dad and he goes, “Well, what about lover boy?” and she smiles at him and says, “Well, he brings me coffee.” It’s really evident, too, that she’s kind of warmed up to people and to the outside world. Do you think that there’s a specific turning point in her journey where she let her walls down and let herself be vulnerable and more open and more loving towards other people?

Evanna: I think that’s Arden. He’s constantly challenging her in several ways and he’s not trying to be better than her or win her or anything. He’s just charming her by being himself and not being ashamed of that in a way that she isn’t. Because I think she has this sense that she has to be smarter and be ahead of everyone and be so mature all the time. And Arden literally just comes to her with his heart in his hands [laughs] and he’s not trying to embellish that, and that’s disarming to her. Sorry, can you actually repeat the question? I sometimes go off and forget what I was saying.

Catherine: That’s okay. If she had a specific turning point from being so abrasive to becoming more open and vulnerable.

Evanna: Oh, yeah. I think it’s that bit in the car as well, where he gets angry with her about what she’s stolen from the shop and then he tells her that, “You don’t know everything.” Oh, and there’s another bit where he says, “You don’t ask, so you don’t know.” And I think she realizes how she has actually been quite selfish and how she has underestimated him, and just because he’s not showing everything of himself doesn’t mean there isn’t more there. And I think that’s very shocking for her, and she hadn’t realized that she was that way. That is a hurtful thing to say, to tell someone, “You are actually selfish. You don’t ask these things. You don’t think about other people,” and that really pulled her up that she’d missed that ability to care and to love and to let other people in.

Catherine: Mhm.

Evanna: Yeah. They both have that moment but, as I said, all through the film he is getting to her. [laughs]

Catherine: Yeah.

Evanna: He’s challenging her in his little Arden way. [laughs]

Catherine: [laughs] In his little Arden way. Yeah, he definitely helps her character arch from the beginning of the film, because I loved the narration that you did as her character in the beginning and the end – the reflective narrations – it started deep and it ended deep. That she started with a narration of… she’s living with this woman who actually shows her unending kindness and she’s so closed off to it, and then it ends with her and Arden and her father and she’s heading back to this woman and she’s a little bit more open to it, but she’s still equally as intensive with her feelings, just one is a little bit more empathetic and less edgy.

Evanna: Yeah.

Catherine: So…

Evanna: Yeah, she definitely becomes more empathetic. I think Emily… that’s one thing… she cannot stand fakeness. She can’t stand that idea of what June expects of her, this pressure to be happy. Anyone who tries to make her anything… to be something she’s not, she sort of… I think she loathes that and doesn’t have time for that. She doesn’t recognize the loving place it comes from.

Catherine: Mhm.

Evanna: It’s not that June just wants her to be happy for her own sanity. She really does care about Emily, and I think… again, it’s like… I often remember when I watched the film for the second time I really realized that this film is about the bravery in falling in love and how falling in love is such a complete surrendering…

Catherine: Mhm.

Evanna: … and how Emily… the whole film she’s trying to control everything. She’s trying to know more than everyone and understand everything and reason it all out, and then meanwhile she’s falling in love with Arden and she’s angry about it because it’s about… the only way you fall in love is to completely let go of control and everything that you know, and I think… yeah, she’s surrendering herself to everyone around her. She’s giving up this idea that she knows everything and that she can understand all these feelings, and she’s just letting people in, because letting people in really is a trust exercise. It’s about saying, “I trust you with my heart. Here, you can have it, and then it’s your prerogative to take care of it or throw it away.” And that’s very scary, but I think the point of the film is that that’s the only way to live, by taking risks like that.

Catherine: Agreed. She definitely has a more vulnerable state and also, I think, slightly happier persona about her towards the end of the film too, where she decides to go back to June and also opens up to Arden as well. So outside the scope of the film, what do you see for Emily’s future?

Evanna: I think George and I talked about this at one point. We thought that they would maybe quit school and start a traveling circus.

[Catherine and Evanna laugh]

Evanna: It’s a bit ludicrous, though. I think she would take after her dad, exploring ideas, and she has this great love of literature and exploring the human condition. Yeah, she just would be a lot more open to the idea that she doesn’t know everything. I think she would always challenge people. She wouldn’t be… that’s why she’s not good at high school, but I think she would probably thrive at college…

[Catherine and Evanna laugh]

Evanna: … because that’s where it’s all about ideas and having your own opinion. But she’d be an artist, definitely, someone… whether it’s words or… I don’t know, art or… yeah, she’s just somebody who’s always going to challenge what you think. Don’t know, I still like the idea of the traveling circus.

Catherine: I like that, too. You said that, and my first thought went to Luna and Rolf Scamander globetrotting around the world, finding magical creatures.

[Evanna laughs]

Catherine: I’m like, “Oh no! It’s another parallel!” [laughs]

Evanna: Yeah. Emily is more of a boss though, I think. Luna is a lot more passive and lets the world… I don’t know, take her places. [laughs] Whereas Emily has more of an urge to control her environment.

Catherine: Yes, that’s true. Dialling back to real life, Emily has an amazing journey too, but your director – Simon – has a breathtaking struggle to face a journey that he’s on as well, and I just wanted to ask you what it was like working with him in creating this film.

Evanna: Yeah, Simon… before I met him I knew he was going to be such an amazing inspiring force. And actually… it’s so funny, I actually haven’t told many people this, but I’m going to… I had a phase of going to lots of psychics, so I was very confused about my life and my destiny and all that, and a psychic actually told me… about six months before I even met him or heard of him, she mentioned the name Fitzmaurice and I was like, “Oh, this person is going to be very influential in the next year in your life,” so… I know, this is so interesting that she came up with that name. And he really was. He’s just so… if you haven’t read… get a chance to read his book – he has a biography. He just has such an incredible passion for life and for art and story, and I really believe that urge to be a storyteller and to express what’s in his soul and what’s in his heart – that is what drives him. That’s what keeps him alive, really, and I know I just wanted to be around someone who had come through these things and had stared death in the face and decided to live, because I think we all have moments where we question what’s our purpose in life and we are not sure and we fumble about for that, and Simon has always been so clear, so crystal clear on what it is he’s meant to do in the world and doesn’t have any doubts. And that’s actually kind of rare to find in an artist because we’re sensitive souls, inherently, and I think being so sensitive you often are victim to other people’s opinions, and Simon doesn’t… nothing holds him back, and I love that about him. On set I remember being struck by how he would always… he would just say what he was feeling – he had to be very economical with his words, actually very direct because obviously he can’t waste words the way we can – and I remember just… there were days… it was like a few weeks in, where he called George and I over to him and he literally just said, “I love you,” because he was just so sweet and disarming, and it made me think… it was like, “Oh, he does that because he doesn’t give a [censored] what people think because he knows that… he’s been told so many times that he could die, so he’s not going to let stupid insecurities and social, I don’t know, appropriateness… he’s not going to let that stop him from expressing himself, and that totally inspires me, how fearless he is in his self-expression.

Catherine: I agree. Do you think that came out in My Name Is Emily in any specific sort of way?

Evanna: Yeah. I mean, the whole movie is intense and passionate, and I suppose… there are a lot of scenes… like Emily’s understanding of [unintelligible] where she can’t stand that the teacher is missing words and pretending it’s about something very intellectual, and then she’s just like, “No, it’s about sex, for goodness sake.” She just calls a spade a spade. And I think also in her dad’s philosophy – if you want to call it that – on how we should just… he goes for the two most sensory, vibrant human experiences, like physical, visceral things. He believes that’s what we should be doing the whole time, and I imagine Simon has had moments where he was losing both of his limbs, the ability to reach out and touch people. So I imagine if anyone was going through that, they would. They would take up extreme sports and go swimming and have lots of sex.

[Catherine and Evanna laugh]

Evanna: I see that intensity and that urge to just go out and do things that Simon has, and that’s in the movie very much so.

Catherine: Well, it was a fantastic film and it was beautifully shot as well. What was it like, the process of filming the movie, especially all of your underwater scenes and standing on not just symbolically life’s edge but literally the edges of cliffs, up in the north of Ireland?

Evanna: Yeah, it was freaking cold.

[Catherine laughs]

Evanna: Yeah. And because I’d been living in LA… I’ve lived in LA for the past five years, so I had to come home for that, for the filming, and I was… yeah, I did not have thick skin anymore. And also, I was wearing pretty skimpy clothes for the filming in October.

[Catherine and Evanna laugh]

Evanna: But it was all clearly beautiful because I left Ireland when I was 19, and a lot of my teen years I actually spent in London filming Potter, so I haven’t really explored Ireland as much as I should. I still haven’t, and I definitely hadn’t realized what a thriving artistic community there is there. So it was just amazing that even going around Wicklow, I was like, “I can’t believe we have these places, this amazing scenery that I’d never even heard of and that you would be happy to spend time there.” It made me realize why so many people – especially Americans, actually, I’ve noticed – they aspire to travel to Ireland. It is such a beautiful sort of mythical place. And I just loved being a part of this film because it’s a small community, and because it’s small a lot of people just don’t see us… acting or filmmaking as a viable career option, and you come up against a lot of cynicism and you do have to have a lot of belief in yourself or even your passion for what you do. So it was very exciting to be part of a community who understood that struggle and still lives it, put their art first.

Catherine: Yeah, the culture of Ireland really came out, I think, in the film too… well, from Emily’s perspective, but the beach and spending time with her father and the way people looked at her whether it was in the city or out in the country and the difference between the two. Yeah. It’s beautiful.

Evanna: Yeah. Thank you.

Catherine: What was the most challenging part of even the process of filming or just taking on this role of Emily?

Evanna: There’s a lot to like about… especially just getting out of my head because I find that… knowing I was playing the lead role, and filming every single day of the shoot, and also the pressure of it being the first film Simon made since he was diagnosed with MND, since he became locked in his body the way he did. And I knew how hard he fought. I read about it and [unintelligible]. I felt a lot of pressure, and that certainly gave me expectations and – as any actor will tell you – you can’t have expectations for the scene. The scene is about being… acting is about listening and being present and letting yourself be changed by others, so I have to let go of that. Some might think because of Simon’s condition, there are a lot of times where I would express myself and he can’t really [unintelligible]. He can’t really comfort you. He had to be very direct in what he was saying. There was this enormous sense of trust between us that I had to trust that he would tell me if he didn’t like something and he had to trust that I understood the character in my head. And once we had that mutual trust, I had to expect that and get out of my way. I think it was really that, just letting go of expectations and trusting myself as an artist. And hopefully finding the Emily in me because she does that. She is so opinionated and strong in her opinions, and I have to be similarly… I have to be like that in order to do that role. That was the challenge.

Catherine: I think you’ve been successful in that, so thank you very much.

Evanna: Thank you, Catherine.

Catherine: It was fabulous. Thank you, and I hope you have a wonderful day.

Evanna: I will, thank you. You too.