Aquaman turns the tide for Amber Heard's career
After struggling with an uneven career in smaller films for more than 10 years and hitting headlines as Johnny Depp's allegedly abused ex-wife, Amber Heard has now scored her biggest lead role to date.
The 32-year-old US actress commands the screen as Atlantean warrior princess Mera in DC superhero blockbuster Aquaman, which is showing here.
Here, she talks about playing a strong female character and slipping into that hot green suit.
What was your reaction when you were approached about taking on the role of Mera?
My first reaction was of trepidation. I was unfamiliar with comic books and superhero movies at the time, so I had this vague image of an oversexualised caricature of a woman, which, knowing nothing of the genre, I thought was to be expected.
But when I dove into the Aquaman comic, I was intrigued to discover that Mera is this incredibly powerful warrior queen, who is witty and independent and a superhero in her own right. I was like, 'A sword and a crown? I can get behind that!'
So I feel very lucky to get to play her and to be working with people who are committed to maintaining and protecting the integrity of the character as she is in the comics - which have always highlighted Mera's strength and resourcefulness - and not shoehorn her into the damsel-in-distress archetype we've seen a thousand times.
I don't think I speak for just myself when I say we're tired of seeing women in these very limited, binary roles that reduce what we are and can be. Mera doesn't have to be saved. She's her own person and a badass, and does a lot of saving herself.
How did director James Wan communicate his vision of Atlantis that we see on film?
It's difficult to imagine what the final result will be on a movie like this because of the importance of digital effects.
When you're on a soundstage surrounded by people in bright blue Lycra onesies, covered in tracking dots, wearing a harness and being hoisted up on wires, you've got to just trust that your director will execute his vision.
As much as Mera goes on this crazy journey in the film, how has the journey been for you to bring it to the screen?
It has been a long and amazing ride! My first meeting on the project was for Mera's cameo in Justice League, and immediately after that, I started training for Aquaman, which lasted many months.
And then we went to the Gold Coast (in Australia) and I spent a lot of time in that green suit, which is Mera's armour. That suit and I went through a lot, I'll say that (laughs).
Was there a scene or a moment on set that stands out as particularly memorable?
One of the most memorable moments was when we were filming the sequence in a courtyard in this small Italian village.
It's the first time Mera has been on the surface for any real length of time, and she gets a rose and doesn't know what to do with it because she's not sure what it is.
It smells good, though, so she bites into it. That was completely real. I had to take a full bite out of a real rose, and did it about 60 times.