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February 2006
FACTORY GIRL: An Interview with Sienna Miller

An Interview with Sienna Miller
By Nicole Schmuelian

February 6, 2007

Factory Girl is getting the latest buzz demonstrating Sienna Miller’s ability to give a hell of a performance.  In the mid-60’s Edie Sedgwick (Sienna Miller) drops out of art school and arrives in New York and almost instantly becomes Andy Warhol’s (Guy Pearce ) muse; he draws her into the center of the revolution in American pop culture.  Through Edie and Andy’s fascination with each other, the film explores the underground drug culture of the factory.  It reveals Edie’s psychology, vulnerability, and her dark past. While the costumes are as unforgettable so is the journey of the fashion icon Edie Sedgwick, dubbed ‘Superstar’ by Andy Warhol.   

It is clear that Sienna Miller felt a responsibility in playing her role as Edie Sedgwick.  This is apparent as she addresses the question, “Why should people in 2007 care about Edie Sedgwick?”  Sienna proudly responds, “The way I see it is that she was really in the spot light for only two years and she is managing to effect my generation today and there is something really extraordinary about someone who as the ability to be that timeless and therefore there must be more to her then just being a social light…I just think she was a performance artist and she had magnetism that Marylyn Monroe had or Audrey Hepburn had but she just destroyed herself.”Certainly this magnetism can be seen in Sienna’s performance. 

Sienna proves that she is more that just a young fashion trendsetter. In Factory Girl Guy Pearce and Sienna Miller seamlessly immerse themselves as Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick. To practice for their roles they confessed to sometimes having little phone conversations as their characters now and then.  Sienna said it was fun and it was an interesting way to get to know people to attempt to improvise. Guy’s portrayal of Andy is ambitious: he is cold and removed but still manages to be sympathetic to the audience.  Sienna discusses the power of Edie’s eyes as being fragile and vulnerable and throughout the film Sienna draws the audience in with that same spark.  Sienna shares with Blackfilm.com the challenges of showing the hidden side to Edie Sedgwick.

Sienna you said that she continues to effect people today? What did you mean by that?

SM: Well, for example, John Galliona made an entire collection for Dior on her two years ago and that like a major fashion house not that you know that is necessarily anything but I mean people are still inspired by her and the way that she dressed and the way that she danced and she was this figure that was so intriguing and to last that long obviously there is something going on.

I am wondering if you were friends with Edie today what would you say to her and do you think you could be friends with Edie today?

SM: It is a really hard question because I feel in a way I am friends with Edie. I’ve been with this project for two years now.  When we were developing the script, and talking about the script and trying to find the money to make the film I never really thought about it.  I find her fascinating and having read as much as I read about her, I really empathize with why she turned out the way she did and I think with the right circumstances she could have really become a Marilyn Monroe or something.  I’d like to think we would be friends. I feel like I understand her a little bit. I don’t know it’s a difficult question. 

Can you talk about the big emotional scene at the end where you confront Andy? Was that a draining experience for you and how did George (Hickenlooper) help you prepare for that scene?

SM: That was a really intimidating scene because that was actually our second day of shooting in the movie and it just so happens schedules sometimes work out like that and I was obviously very nervous about it. I didn’t know anyone but in a way that helps with the feeling of vulnerability and what George has an amazing ability to do for me is to create an environment that’s very safe and very trusting so that you feel that you have the ability to go as far as you want to go and it’s never to far. And he is very embracing of an actors yearning and he just made me feel protected and reassured and comforted and encouraged. It really helped to be supported like that because you feel like you want to do well for that person.

I wanted to talk about that relationship. What did you learn about these people being like two completely opposites? What did you learn about that relationship?

SM: Which people Edie and the musician?


SM: Guy and I and George became great friends with a lot of people who knew Andy and Edie, including Edie’s brother and her husband Michael Post and the funny thing is that everyone has different accounts of what happened and you also have to remember that this was a period of time when a lot of people were doing a lot of drugs.  And so they were like, “Well, I don’t remember” and “I don’t remember the decade”, let alone, some people say nothing happened at all and someone very close said it absolutely did happen and he was the love of her life.

 How involved you were with creating Edie’s look and did you get to keep the costumes?

SM: I honestly loved absolutely every single item of clothing and I am still battling the producers to find it because I haven’t even got a leotard but that’s something I am working on, believe me very hard.  We had an incredible costume designer John A. Dunn who has done wardrobe for “Casino” and some amazing pictures and we were really lucky the people that were willing to come on board just because it was such an interesting subject matter. So I really didn’t feel the need to collaborate at all because he was such a genius and he collected lots of amazing vintage pieces and then copied some of Edie’s clothes, copied her earrings exactly so it was great. It was really fun dressing up but I didn’t feel a need to get involved.

What do you want to get across to the audiences about Edie in film?

SM: I think it’s just ultimately we are making a story that a lot of people say to me---actually, someone in this room ‘Why Edie? Who cares?’ At the end of the day, people see her as a very wealthy girl from a privilege background who took too many drugs and died at 28.  But actually once you understand the psychology behind why she was motivated a) to become a drug addict and b) why she is still impacting my generation today you understand there is more to her than just what people perceive.  So I think it was a question of just trying to make her sympathetic and to understand her, and to work on the relationship between Andy and Edie that was actually a very, very loving and very close relationship for a while; in order to understand the sadness at the end, when it fell apart. 

The Andy/ Edie relationship here, Andy Warhol, seems to be the villain in the film certainly not Bob Dylan musician character.  He (Andy Warhol) is the one who should be held responsible for building her up, exploiting her, and letting her sort of go to the wall.  Sienna did you think it was like a love story?

SM: The film opens with a quote from Andy that I can’t remember directly what it is but ‘someone in the 60’s affected me more than anyone, you know referring to Edie’ and it’s a very, found loving quote. But then we were lucky enough that Richie Berlin, who was a great friend of Andy’s, use to tape all their phone conversations and we actually have the phone conversation where Bridget tells Andy that Edie died and I think if you listen to that you understand I think he really did care. He had an ability to emotionally detach and when you hear the phone conversation he almost cares and there is a big pause and then he just says ‘who gets all the money, so what are you doing today?’

Were Edie’s parents still alive when you were making the film?  Did you talk to Kiera?

SM: I didn’t.  I actually met Kiera at Sundance they had another movie at Sundance and people knew we were making the film and if they offered their advice that I was willing to take it but I didn’t want to press or force anyone into talking.  A lot of people as I said before had a lot of different accounts of the same events and the overwhelming thing that I got was she was very loving and had a desperate need to be loved and everything that she did was sort of governed by a fragility and a vulnerability.  I think she found it hard to exist in reality because reality for her hadn’t been a very safe place and her parent’s way of dealing with drama when she was younger was to give her a valium so of course drugs would seemed like a natural escape from an unhappy time.  But overall everyone said she was just a loving, warm person that she just burned to brightly for this world. 

Do you think the movie is ultimately saying that Edie Sedgwick might have been happier if she had never been famous?

SM: That was a period of time when ultimately they wanted to be famous and that’s what they wanted.  I feel that Edie’s problems are far more deep-rooted. I don’t think fame really played a part in it.  She wasn’t famous like ‘famous’ today.  There weren’t paparazzi, and there wasn’t the Internet.  It was on a much smaller scale.  I think she reveled in the attention.  They all did, and admitted it and there was no shame in that.  But there was so much more that was interesting to me than wanting to be famous.

I read somewhere how you and Guy would dress as Andy and Edie and just go out at night? 

SM: No, we had one evening when we were rehearsing in the hotel room and I put on a bit black makeup with a couple of eyebrows. We were going to go out but we didn’t.  Guy and I worked very well together luckily and I think it was important the dynamic between these two characters were really compatible in our approach to work; we both felt a huge responsibility in playing these people and had a lot of fun discussing the characters and having little phone conversations as the characters now and then.  He’d (Guy) called me up from Australia and I’d be in London and he’d go ‘Edie it’s Andy’ and we had these funny traps.  Because it was fun and it was interesting way to get to know people and attempt to improvise. 

So is that why those stories started coming out that you were possessed by the character? 

SM: It’s just your responsibility to write whatever you want which you all tend to do anyway.  I think if you are playing someone that existed you have a responsibility to try to immerse yourself in that character. I think if I didn’t do that I wouldn’t be serious about my work.  Certainly I didn’t loose myself. I am far too grounded for that but I did experiment with attempting to feel the emotions. 

FACTORY GIRL opens on February 2, 2007


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