When I talked to Carey Mulligan a year ago doing roundtable interviews for An Education, she could still reasonably pass as the wide-eyed neophyte. The relationship with Shia LaBeouf had just started, the Oscar nomination was yet to come, and though she had filmed Never Let Me Go, at the time it was just a Keira Knightley vehicle with two unknowns cast as leads alongside her.
Now, though, there’s a lot that’s different, and Mulligan herself acknowledges it. Not only is she an Oscar nominee with job offers pouring in, not only is her co-star Andrew Garfield better known as The New Spider-Man, but Never Let Me Go is one of the most major debuts at the Toronto Film Festival, with hard-bitten critics crying their eyes out at the saga of three childhood friends faced with living tragically truncated lives (read my review here for slightly more spoilery details). Mulligan, an avowed fan of Kazuo Ishiguro’s original novel, talked to me and some other journalists about tackling the pivotal role of Kathy, how her life has changed since bringing An Education to the festival circuit last year, and a little about her role in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street 2.
Had you read the book before you got involved with the film?
Yes, I had. My mum is a big Ishiguro fan, and I read it pretty much as soon as it came out. In the book she’s 31 at the end, so I thought [a film version I could star in] was a couple of years away. Then they brought the ages down and made it so we could play them from ages 18 to 28. But I was always in love with the book. I read it six times between getting the job and now.
What did you love about the book?
I loved his writing. I loved how unsentimental it was, and how much he said in these little tiny phrases. And I love how his writing isn’t overly intellectual and doesn’t exclude the audience. It invites the audience in. Ishiguro is an incredibly intelligent person, and his writing could be really cerebral, and it’s not.