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In the last year, Carey Mulligan appeared in two much-admired movies, “Drive” and “Shame,” and gave an acclaimed performance in “Through a Glass Darkly,” a stage adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s 1961 film. But before that run, she hadn’t worked for nearly a year, disatisfied with the scripts she was receiving. “Everything seemed exactly the same as stuff I’d been doing,” she told the Bagger recently.

Since her breakout turn in “An Education” in 2009, Ms. Mulligan has played a lot of characters who have a sense of desperation – if not despair — and Sissy in “Shame,” directed by Steve McQueen, certainly fit the bill. But Ms. Mulligan saw another side of her.

“She’s hopeful,” Ms. Mulligan said. “She sort of reminded me of me in that respect. She keeps on getting knocked back and she keeps trying. She never sees that her life is limited, she doesn’t know that she’s not talented enough to be a singer, or to be an actress. That’s how they rang similar to me, that’s probably why I was so drawn to thing.”

She laughed. That striving, she said, “bears repeating in all of my work.”

Here, Ms. Mulligan talks to our colleague Charles McGrath about “Shame,” acting in theater vs. film and her attraction to characters on the verge of madness.

Click here to view the TimesTalk interview.