The talented young British actress likes to take chances on screen – and it looks like it’s about to payoff.
19 Nov 2013 - 3:10 PM  UPDATED 11 Oct 2019 - 11:16 AM

When you come face to face with Juno Temple, it's easy to fall for the charms of the 24-year-old British wild child. Already with some 30 movies to her credit, this only daughter of Julien Temple (director of the Sex Pistols' movies, The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle and The Filth and the Fury) and producer Amanda Temple was encouraged to pursue her creative bent from an early age. While she was still in her mother's womb, her parents decided to name her after the Roman goddess of vitality, fertility and femininity after they visited the Grand Canyon and a rocky outcrop called Juno Temple.

Going to work in Chile proved a difficult transition at first, but it turned into an amazing and new experience

“My father's been one of the hugest influences in my life working-wise, though my mum is here with me now and is one of my best friends,” Temple told me last January in Sundance. “My dad taught me never to do something unless I was passionate about it and that knowledge is the key to life.”

Her dad also provided Juno's start in movies when she was nine. Even if he cut her scenes from that film, Vigo: A Passion for Life, his 1998 biopic of French cineaste Jean Vigo, she finally made her movie debut at age 11 in his little-seen Pandaemonium (2000). Her big break came when her mother noticed a call for an open audition for Notes on a Scandal (2006) and she was cast as Cate Blanchett's daughter. She then dyed her hair red to play Lola, the brat who sets off tragic events in Atonement (2007). The chameleon-like adventurer, who went on to appear in the St. Trinian's films and The Other Boleyn Girl (2008), has hardly sported her natural hair colour (reportedly brown) ever since.

The problem is we hardly recognise her from film to film. And it has not helped that her subsequent indie films have barely make a blip on the blockbuster-oriented landscape. While she has appeared in The Dark Knight Risesand The Three Musketeers, it's been in peripheral roles. Her most challenging part she admits has been Dottie, the virginal object of Matthew McConaughey's lust and obsession in William Friedkin's raunchy and barely released Texas-set thriller, Killer Joe (2011), one of many movies where Temple has appeared naked, something that certainly got critics' attention in Gregg Araki's Kaboom (2010).

“I've actually never been freaked out by nude scenes except in Killer Joe,” she notes, “because I had to take my clothes off while Matthew got to keep his clothes on and that just felt cruel! I don't mind doing nudity if it's necessary, if it's not gratuitous.”

In Sundance, Temple had three films in the program, Lovelace, Magic Magic and Afternoon Delight, and she made quite an impression. She had two more in Toronto, The Brass Teapot and French horror maestro Alejandre Aja's Horns with Daniel Radcliffe sporting horns that grow out of his head and make people tell him their deepest secrets.

“I think it's going to be really great for people to see Daniel in the film,” Temple says. “Everything for him is about to just blow up. He's about to take over.”

So too is Temple. It's just a matter of when. While her Sundance competition film, Afternoon Delight, has not been seen or heard of here, her performance as a stripper who ultimately helps a bored struggling couple (Kathryn Hahn and Josh Radnor) to fall back in love was one of my festival favorites. In Lovelace, she had a small role as the porn star's best friend, and she plays a schizophrenic in Chilean writer-director Sebastián Silva's psychological drama, Magic Magic, which is coming up for a minor Australian release on November 28.

Silva (The Maid, Old Cats) made quite a splash in Sundance by having a second film in the program, the chaotic comedy Crystal Fairy. The star of both films, Michael Cera, had starred with Jack Black in the 2009 cavemen flop, Year One, in which Temple played yet another unnoticed role.

“I've known Michael since I was 17 and he's one of my favourite people,” Temple notes. “Having him there while we were making Magic Magic in Chile made me feel safe and I didn't feel embarrassed.” Not that Cera's obnoxious Brink is nice to Temple's Alicia. In fact, he terrorises her.

Magic Magic focuses on a group of Americans and Chileans heading out to a countryside getaway in southern Chile. Alicia tags along with her friend Sarah (Australia's Emily Browning), her boyfriend Agustin (Agustin Sílva), his sister (Catalina Sandino) and Cera's Brink. As they head for a dark forest, we just know it's going to evolve into a 'If we go down to the woods today' kind of scenario. Australian Chris Doyle's cinematography emphasises the growing dread and sense of isolation as Alicia is trapped with a group of strangers and drifts increasingly into her own world.

“I play a girl who has a schizophrenic episode in southern Chile and not knowing how to deal with it, she becomes terrified of her own reflection and ready to please people,” Temple explains in her fast-talking manner. “The idea of being somewhere that you don't know and where things that usually are so normal to you seem so strange—like a horse or a dog or the noise of a cricket become things you don't understand anymore—as your mind is falling to pieces, is one of the scariest things imaginable. Sebastián wrote this script because I think it's his worst nightmare.”

To relieve the tension, Silva insisted that the cast and crew relax after a hard day's work over a few drinks.

“Going to work in Chile proved a difficult transition at first, but it turned into an amazing and new experience,” Temple recalls. “It was so magical, so brave for the character to be in this place, because it really helped with her feeling lost and confused and with the idea of nature becoming dangerous. Chile's a wild looking country that's so affected by the weather. If it was a sunny day, if felt like this golden paradise, and if the weather was bleak, it felt like the world was coming to an end.”

Has she been to Australia? (It's been a bit like that here of late!) “Never. My dad shot an opera in Sydney [2008's Eternity Man based on the life of Arthur Stace] and Emily Browning is now one of my best friends. She is someone I love so dearly and I would make a movie with her every day.”

Temple's next role in a studio role is literally miniscule. She plays a tiny fairy called Thistletwit in Disney's Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie.

“I only got to work with a giant styrofoam version of Angelina because all my stuff was motion capture,” she explains. “But I did get to work with Imelda Staunton and Lesley Manville, who are two of the most brilliant English actresses.”

Magic Magic

12:45AM, Wednesday 16 October on SBS VICELAND

Chile, 2013
Genre: Thriller
Language: English
Director: Sebastian Silva
Starring: Michael Cera, Juno Temple, Emily Browning, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Agustín Silva
What's it about?
When Alicia (Temple) flies from California to Chile in order to spend time with her cousin Sarah (Browning), she finds herself taken on an island holiday with Sarah's friends. Unable to speak the language, Alicia grows anxious at her unfamiliar surroundings and when Sarah has to leave, Alicia's social isolation and insomnia take hold, leading to increasingly erratic behaviour. 

Magic Magic: Review