Eva Green

Kingdom Of Heaven

Interviewed by Anwar Brett

“It was wonderful to be surrounded by those actors - I could only aspire to their knowledge ”

Paris-born Eva Green made a well received debut in Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers, and in 2003 took a role in the latest film version of notorious thief Arsène Lupin. In Ridley Scott's crusades epic Kingdom Of Heaven she portrays Sibylla, loyal sister to King Baldwin IV, wife to the brutish and scheming Guy de Lusignan and lover to Orlando Bloom's blacksmith-turned-knight Balian.

What do we know about your character, Sibylla?

The character of Sibylla is quite nebulous, we don't know too much about her. She was madly in love with Guy de Lusignan, the baddie in the movie, and everyone was warning her not to marry him because he was such a moron. Then she put the crown on his head, and there were disastrous consequences for the kingdom. We also know that she had a child who died at 8 years old, though we don't know how. But I didn't build my character from the history, it was more on the script.

Is it easy to empathise with characters living in such distant times?

I don't know. She was a Queen and it was quite hard because she had to maintain this public mask, but she was also a woman and she found life quite difficult with this duality in her life. As for me I don't know if I could have lived as a peasant in those times but as a Queen, yes.

The value of historic films like this is they echo events we're experiencing now, isn't it?

We do keep making the same mistakes again and again. We don't seem to learn anything from history, not to sound too pessimistic.

Ridley Scott was careful to portray the Muslim and Christian characters in as even-handed a way as possible, wasn't he?

There are fanatics in every religion. You have people who are narrow minded about how they view things. You have leaders like Saladin and King Baldwin who are very magnanimous, very wise, and will try anything not to have people killed. They will try to resolve things without going to war. They're not bloodthirsty at all. So it's not a clichéd movie, it's not told in black and white.

You came on to the film quite late, didn't you?

I was hired a week before shooting, so it was very stressful and very exciting at the same time. I didn't have much time to prepare for that cast of great actors. I just had to pinch myself every day, but after a while you focus on your role and try to do a good job. But it was wonderful to be surrounded by those actors - I could only aspire to their knowledge.

Your two released films to date have been directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and Ridley Scott. Is it possible to compare and contrast their styles?

Bernardo is very Italian, very demonstrative, very loving. On The Dreamers we were like his children. He taught us a lot of things, to let it go and to take advantage of the unexpected, and to be less self-conscious. Ridley is also a master. He had a lot of pressure around him, but he's very British. He can look quite reserved, and everything is in control. He's extremely patient - I've never met anyone that calm before. But they're very different, it's very difficult to compare two human beings.

Kingdom Of Heaven is released in UK cinemas on Friday 6th May 2005.