Filming the vigilante drama “Harry Brown” challenged Emily Mortimer’s views on crime.
The movie, starring Michael Caine as an elderly widower who seeks revenge for the murder of his best friend, was shot in rundown sections of London using real gang members as extras. Mortimer plays a detective who suspects that Caine’s character is responsible for killing some of the gangsters.
To prepare for the role, Mortimer followed a female police detective in East London for several days.
“I’m a very liberal, left-wing sort who doesn’t like to think things are as bad as they are portrayed,” Mortimer, 38, said in an interview at a Beverly Hills, California, hotel. “She showed me this is something that is really happening.”
During the climactic scene, Mortimer is repeatedly kicked after being knocked to the floor of a pub by a young thug. Protective padding under her clothes didn’t fully absorb the blows, Mortimer said.
“You have to keep remembering to tense your stomach muscles in anticipation of those kicks,” she said. “I kept thinking, isn’t this how Houdini died?”
Harry Houdini died from a ruptured appendix after being punched by a man testing the magician’s claim that he could withstand hard blows by tensing his abdominal muscles.
Mortimer alternates between serious and comic roles. She played Inspector Clouseau’s secretary in “The Pink Panther” remakes and a psychotic inmate in Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island.”
“I like to change it up as much as I can and not bore myself or anyone else,” Mortimer said.
“Juno” star Ellen Page will play a gay auto mechanic in “Freeheld,” based on the true story of a lesbian couple’s fight for pension benefits.
Page will portray Stacie Andree, the partner of Laurel Hester, a New Jersey police officer diagnosed with terminal cancer. Hester’s battle to transfer her pension before her death was the subject of an Oscar-winning 2007 documentary by Cynthia Wade.
“Freeheld” will be financed and co-produced by Los Angeles-based Endgame Entertainment. Other cast members haven’t been announced.
Page received an Oscar nomination for her role as a pregnant teenager in “Juno.”