Sundance 2013 Interview: Emily Browning on Magic Magic

The star talks about her new independent feature and the studio interference on Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

In the Sundance midnight movie Magic Magic, Emily Browning plays Sarah, a tourist in Chile who invites her friend Alicia (Juno Temple) along with her group. Alicia doesn’t have a very good time though. She doesn’t get along with Sarah’s friends and she starts going mad, either from supernatural forces or her own instability. The day after the film’s midnight premiere, we got to meet Browning and speak with her about her Sundance experience, and one of her most underrated movies.

CraveOnline: First I want to tell you, I loved Sucker Punch.

Emily Browning: Oh, thank you. There were a few people that didn’t.

I’ve been the one defending it.

Awesome, thanks very much.

Have you ever been stuck on a bad vacation like Alicia is in Magic Magic?

I haven’t had an Alicia experience but I think, because I took a few friends to the screening last night, one thing that they all agreed on was that even though they’ve never been in the exact position that Alicia was in, they felt that like “I want to go home. I don’t know the people I’m with very well and I don’t feel comfortable” and I think that’s a really universal feeling of just occasionally getting, not necessarily a vacation but just being in a place where there’s a few people you don’t know very well and you’re like, “I just want to go home,” feeling kind of anxious. And also Alicia has a very extreme version of that but I think I understand that feeling.

When it gets really creepy at the end, what was the process of making the scary faces that flash before Alicia?

Oh, when she’s on the couch? That was actually kind of hilarious. It was weird because in that scene, that scene was not funny to film when Juno was there because she was crying and getting into it. I felt very emotional and protective and everything, so when we did those faces, we were doing it to the camera. She got to leave for a well deserved rest and we were doing it to a camera and it was kind of hilarious actually, because Sebastian [Silva] was just like, “Do the ugliest face you can. Look as weird as you can. Smile at her, be a psycho.” It was kind of hilarious.

In the section where you’re just a voice on the phone, did you approach it any differently and did you do those calls live or dub it in later?

Sometimes. I think some of the phone calls we did but I don’t remember. It originally cut back to me in Santiago and you saw what was going on. I don’t know, I think maybe I just read them with Sebastian. The whole part of the movie where I wasn’t there was my favorite part of the movie just because I hadn’t seen any of that stuff. I remember from the script but I didn’t know. That’s sort of when she really loses it. That’s when she goes kind of [crazy] but I loved seeing the stuff that I wasn’t part of.

Have you had films at Sundance before?

Never, never. This is my first time.

What do you think, and the Midnight section especially?

I know, it was very intense last night. I mean, I love it. It was the first time I’d seen the film so I was kind of terrified going in. I think we all were a bit, as you always are at the premiere of a film. Sundance itself is great. I’ve had a few friends here so I’ve been here for a few days just watching other people’s movies and that’s awesome. I got to go and see Afternoon Delight with Juno and it’s nice to do that. I think I’d like to do that next year, not have a movie here and just come and watch movies. It’s fun so I feel really lucky that my first time here is with this film because everyone’s so awesome and I get to be with Juno as well. It’s just nice to have a good community of people around you when you’re doing something like this for the first time I think.

What do you play in Plush?

I guess I play a rockstar. Yeah, kind of a girl who’s the lead singer in a band with her brother and her brother’s the closest person to her and he dies. She sort of goes into a downward spiral and starts taking a lot of drugs and ends up having a dangerous affair with someone who joins her band. I actually got the part of Plush when we were in Chile and I remember Juno and I talking about outfits that I could wear.

When I mentioned Sucker Punch, that was poised to be such a big movie, were you surprised by the reactions to it?

I love making that movie and I love every single person that made that movie. I think Zack [Snyder] brings together the best group of people and I love every one of those girls and really had a great time, and I like the movie. But I do know that I think if the higher powers hadn’t intervened as much and it had stayed Zack’s story, I think it would have been a better film. Maybe not necessarily any better received but I just think it was kind of a weird thing with studio people. I think it got muddled.

Is the director’s cut on DVD and Blu-ray his version, or does it go even beyond those additions?

I haven’t seen it. I’m not sure. I’ll have to get back to you on that.

I wasn’t aware there was interference per se. How different did it turn out than you expected?

I mean, it was understandable interference because they wanted to market it as a PG-13 film and originally the script was an R for sure. I don’t know, I feel like it got watered down a little bit but I haven’t seen Zack’s cut. I would be very interested to see that.

I know they put some R-rated scenes back in.

Yeah, like the scene at the end.

But I don’t know if that changes any of the ambiguous stuff that people might have had a problem with.

Oh, well if people had a problem with that, that’s just silly. I don’t know, do you want to see a movie that’s totally clear-cut?

And make sure to check out all of Crave Online's coverage of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival here!

Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.