Alice Eve and Stanley Tucci have a secret, and the reveal pays off tenfold in Neil LaBute’s new film “Some Velvet Morning.”
All is not what it seems in this two-actor chess match, which begins innocently enough as Fred (Tucci) shows up on the doorstep of his former mistress Velvet (Eve) years after their final dalliance. Claiming to have left his wife, Fred explores the possibility of a future with the stunning woman, who seems content to leave her sordid past – including Fred – behind her.
The film’s events only take place within Velvet’s house (aside from a brief trip to the back porch), as the two engage in an occasionally exhausting war of words that begins to peel back the layers of their deeply complex relationship. From scathing barbs to sweet nothings, Eve and Tucci connect with convincing chemistry as they torpedo each other with LaBute’s sharp dialogue.
I recently caught up with Eve to talking about “Some Velvet Morning,” the intensity of her co-star and the trouble with bumping into the set pieces… all while trying not to spoil the ending.
David Onda: Were you familiar with Neil’s work and some of his running themes of love, sex and obsession and all that?
Alice Eve: Yes, I’d seen his work. I’d seen “The Shape of Things,” and I see that he is interested in investigating, maybe, the unsayable. And I like that. I like the fact that he will go to the darkness.
Onda: What were some of the unique difficulties of making “Some Velvet Morning”?
Eve: The speed. You’re covering a lot of material in a short period of time, so we were doing eight or nine pages a day over a nine or 10 day period. That was sort of the ultimate challenge on many levels. And then the emotional taxation. You do invest – especially when you’re doing something that densely – you do invest a lot in it. That’s very taxing.
Onda: I’m not sure any movie has made Stanley Tucci as intimidating as he is in this. What was it like being in those moments with him?
Eve: Well, you know, I know it’s Stanley on a base level, but of course the experience still takes you there. You still do feel the energy that’s being tossed around the room that is negative and that’s hateful and you do feel that energy. So, it’s not so much Stanley as what he says that penetrates in a way that does take a little bit of a toll, I guess.
Onda: You throw a couple hard punches into his arm in return. Did he tell you to just go for it?
Eve: We choreographed that stuff. We didn’t just jump in and just go for it. [laughs] Same for the final sequence. We choreographed it, so we knew our limits and the parameters, which is really important for actors because we’re very vulnerable out there.
Onda: There’s a great moment where Stanley admires your high heel shoe after it tumbles down the stairs. Was that scripted?
Eve: No. A lot of the stuff – me putting the lipstick on him, the shoe falling down the stairs, where we kind of move and how we move – that all grew out what we were doing and rehearsing and developing together and how we blocked it and stuff.
Onda: Throughout the film, Velvet waivers between this confident strength and a crippling vulnerability. She’s got a complex personality.
Eve: I think she’s a traumatized soul. I think that’s one of the things Neil investigates in the movie, is the gender divide. She can play him at his game, as she likes, and play the man’s game. But once you play a man’s game, you eventually are gonna be exposed to the fact that he’s stronger than you physically if it comes to that. And only too late does she remember her vulnerability. Only when she’s thrown down too strong a gauntlet does she remember that she is a woman and she’s scared and she has all these things inside. That’s why she’s so complex and, in her way, so beautiful. But she’s a traumatized soul.
Onda: You really manage to humanize someone whose line of work does not make her the most sympathetic character. How did you get into Velvet’s head?
Eve: I guess I didn’t judge her. I didn’t judge the fact that she was in that line of work. And then I tried to understand that she was a woman who had been through a trauma. She had been through a trauma and now this trauma – which, the nature of a trauma is that you haven’t made peace with it or worked through it – and she’s having to repeat this thing in order to overcome or try and understand the trauma and unpack it. I came at it from that angle. Rather than judging what she did, I imagined what she must feel. And I think she must be in a lot of pain all the time.
Onda: Obviously this will make more sense to people after they see the movie, but Velvet has this moment of reflection just before the credits roll. What do you think she’s feeling at that moment?
Eve: I don’t think she knows. I think she’s in so deep that I think the tragedy is she doesn’t know. She just knows that she’s touched – that Daft Punk song “Touch”: “You’ve almost convinced me I’m real.” I don’t think she knows she’s real unless she’s in physical contact. I think she’s that desperate, she’s that far down the spectrum that she’s just happy that she feels alive again.
Onda: If you were watching “Some Velvet Morning” with an audience, what are some of the little things you’d point out to them that they might not notice otherwise?
Eve: The continuity errors… [laughs] which we were sort of fastidious about. I remember reading that, on “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” they had 54 [errors]. And we were in a house and had to kind of move around it and things were gonna get moved. There were loads of people in the house and it’s really intense, and so you have to kind of watch it. But I don’t think “Virginia Woolf” suffered, and I think, thankfully, that this film doesn’t suffer either. But there are a few in there.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.