Agyness Deyn ('Pusher')
'Push It Real Good!'
For a low-budget Danish crime drama, 'Pusher' has come far, with two sequels and now a second, London-set remake.
The original plot was classically simple, a seven-day countdown as a Copenhagen heroin dealer tries to settle a debt to a louche but vicious Serbian gangster.
Now set in London and Richard Coyle ('Coupling') plays the lead role of Frank, the heroin dealer with the seven days to figure his life out.
Agyness Deyn's plays his stripper girlfriend Flo, and as much as her role might well be just a supporting one, in the sequel she'll be playing the lead!
Indeed, director/producer Nicolas Winding Refn says he plans to make several follow-ups to the film, including a sequel that will follow Deyn's character — a drug-addicted stripper — as she moves from London to Las Vegas in an attempt to make a fresh start.
Chatting recently the lovely Agyness Deyn, I first wondered, being that she had changed her name early on from Laura Michelle Hollins to Agyness Deyn (due to a numerology expert), if she still believed in all that stuff? "Yeah, that was years and years ago. I don't think I can say my success is solely down to that being the thing that brought me success though," she laughs.
Does anyone ever call your Laura these days? "No, I've been called Agyness for half my life, you know."
Absolutely, well, as this was your first major Hollywood acting role, what did you quickly learn whilst on set filming? "That I was not just doing this one my own. Like the fear of having to carry it. The fear of going into something unknown, but that I was so supported. As soon as I started working I knew it was such a supportive family atmosphere that I felt safe in. There's an excitement in my nerves. And the nerves that I was experiencing was also actual excitement for being part of the project."
You play a stripper girlfriend to the slowly falling-apart main character Frank. So what stripper moves did they teach you and what moves did you already know?! "Yeah, well, I worked with a girl called Jen and she taught me the ropes of that whole job. She worked in the London scene and she was the most amazing woman. She taught me everything she knew. And I got as much reality as I could. I went to work and we hung out. We became good friends."
Any bumps and bruises along the way? "Yeah, yeah, of course," she laughs. "A lot. I got nicknamed Bambi at her work. Because I was like Bambi, but on a pole!"
And how long was the shoot for 'Pusher'? "It was like five weeks. But I was only there for about half of it."
Being that this is a remake of a gritty 1996 Danish film, did you watch that one to get a sense of Lisbeth Rasmussen’s same role, just named Rita? "No, I didn't. Luis [Prieto], the director, asked us specifically not to watch it because my character was a lot different in many ways from the original. And I didn't realize that until I was interviewed along with the guy. But I didn't want to watch it anyway because I didn't want to replicate somebody else's performance."
"And Zlatko Buric who plays the character Milo, obviously couldn't have anyone say to him don't watch it, because he'd been in the other three 'Pusher' movies in the trilogy! So Luis was like, Zlatko, whatever you do just don't do what you did in any of the other 'Pusher' movies. And he was like, 'I don't remember those roles anyway as we were all really high'," she laughs.
You co-star alongside Richard Coyle, but had you met him before this film? "I hadn't no. I first met him at the office. And he's Northern, grew up in Sheffield and literally I felt like he was my brother," she laughs. "I felt an instant connection with him, an ease and we got on so well. It made it such a great thing to do together."
Producer Nicolas Winding Refn has already stated that there will be sequels to this movie and that the next one will follow YOU moving from London to Las Vegas in an attempt to make a fresh start. Is this something already in the works? "Yeah, I've been in talks about it. It was a real surprise to me because Nicholas said that at the London premiere. To the Telegraph newspaper. And I feel so honored that he said that, because I respect him so much as a filmmaker. And he's such a great guy to wanna do that. So, to get such validation from such a creative, one of the best directors of the moment is so great."
"I love Flo and I'm just so super excited to play her again. To explore her more and carry on her story. Even when I'm watching it in Toronto I'm watching it objectively, not watching myself really. But there are still parts where I scream 'don't do it'! And obviously I know what's going to happen 'cause I was there. But it was like she has this thing about her where you just want to grab her and carry her away from it all."
So, you go from a very successful model; who just announced her retirement; to having bit parts in small movies, to getting a co-star role in 'Pusher,' to now getting to headline your own movie re: 'Pusher 2'! "The thing is this transition is just not like in a week. I shot 'Pusher' a year and a half ago, and before that I shot some short films. So it's more like a three year transition. And it's not that I've retired from modeling. And I've been offered the lead in Terence Davies' new film which we start in the new year. And then we'll do the sequel to 'Pusher' early next year. So the first half of my year will be acting."
"So I'm not gonna be modeling. I've been a model for twelve years and when you do it for that long you just want to mix it up a little bit, that's all. Doing anything for twelve years I'd still want to take my career to the next level. So, I wanna work hard and work even harder. I just feel like it's what I have to do. Just work hard, focus and do it. And I can't fake doing it."
"I think that's what my nervousness was about going into 'Pusher' was. I spoke to Luis about it and about how I didn't have any training going into this. And he was so supportive. He said he wouldn't have cast me in the role if he didn't think that I could have done it. He also said that in my audition, 'Why would I have cast the one that can't do the job?' And he said he didn't even know I was a model, because he's Spanish. So when he said that I think the daylight broke and I was like understanding of it all."
"So, I felt secure with him. I felt nurtured by Luis and Richard and everyone. It was a really great thing to feel in my first role. Which I feel was very important."
You kinda mentioned your next acting role - was it for 'Sunset Song,’ perhaps? "Yeah. It's Pre-War and it's based on a book called Sunset Song and it's a famous Scottish novel that kids actually study in school. And my friend was like 'We studied that in school so don't f**k it up'," she laughs. "Yeah, so my character goes through so much and Peter Mullan plays my father. And it shows the turbulent relationship that they have together. We had a meeting about it last week and I just can't wait to get into her. She's called Chris Guthrie and she's just a wonderful young woman who is just so centered with the land and the way she sees people."
Having done modeling for so many years, green screen work on 2010’s 'Clash Of The Titans' (as Aphrodite), some short films, and now co-starring in 'Pusher,' what are you more comfortable with? "Actually, my pivotal moment was doing the West End play in London that I did at the beginning of this year. It was called The Leisure Society and was a four-hander with Ed Stoppard, Melanie Gray, and John Schwab. So yeah, doing a play, doing eight shows a week and rehearsing for a month, it was like my wow moment. It just made me more confident in my choices and stuff like that."
"I remember that after I finished that saying to my agent, 'Oh my God, I suppose I'm an actor now!' And she was like,'Yeah, you just did a West End play. You're definitely an actor!' So I knew then that I was actually doing this. It was so enjoyable and such a learning curve. I actually felt like I was at boot camp, learning the whole process from start to finish. The first day of rehearsal to the last show I literally felt like a different person."
"It was incredible. And also because of all the people that I worked with I was learning so much. Like working on the film with Richard and the director and then with everyone on the play. I realized that you just have to be like a sponge in everything that I do. I feel that it all opens my view of life and of doing the job."
Will your band Lucky Knitwear ever record an album? "No," she laughs. "No, that was just a bit of fun when we were all younger."
So you don't sing any more? "Not really. Only in the shower!"
And, finally, as we ask everyone we interview this same question, throwing you a journalistic curve ball, we here at Exclusive Magazine love Penguins … do you have any fondness for them also, perhaps?! "I do, definitely. They're just so funny, aren't they," she laughs. "Such amazing creatures. Like their waddle. And the noises they make. They're just little aliens! It's like when I look at my dog. Sometimes it's like 'Whoa, that's so different from what I am'," she laughs again.
So, if you owned a penguin, would it be a boy or a girl and what would it's name be?! "Erm, it would probably be a boy and it would be called ... erm ... Oscar!"
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
'Pusher' is on VOD now and in theaters 10/26.
Back To Archives