Magazine article Screen International

Carey Mulligan Talks Tough 'Mudbound' Shoot, Future Projects

Magazine article Screen International

Carey Mulligan Talks Tough 'Mudbound' Shoot, Future Projects

Article excerpt

Mulligan plays a 1940s farmer’s wife who tackles prejudice in the Mississippi Delta when she bonds with her black tenant neighbour.

‘Mudbound’

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a picture of a black man fighting in the Second World War,” says Carey Mulligan, who plays Laura McAllan in director Dee Rees’s adaptation of Hillary Jordan’s 2008 novel Mudbound, set before and after the hostilities in the 1940s.

The 32-year-old UK actress is concerned about how the wartime effort of African-Americans has been downplayed in visual images of the conflict. It is a situation she hopes Mudbound will address, as it shows how US families of all races made sacrifices for their country.

Mudbound also shows how these American black men, who were willing to sacrifice their lives for their country, were treated as second-class citizens on their return home. The actress, who won a Bafta and was Oscar-nominated for her turn as a teenage schoolgirl in An Education (2009), was shocked as she learned more about this torrid part of history: “I couldn’t imagine these people coming home to a society where they are treated like dirt. It was so shocking.”

As part of Mulligan’s preparation, director Rees shared photographs from the era with Mulligan. “I saw this image of a woman - it was from the 1940s, she had this really short fringe and looked so awkward and I thought that is totally who Laura is,” says Mulligan. “So I cut this awful fringe.”

In the drama, 31-year-old virgin Laura receives a surprise marriage proposal from Henry (Jason Clarke). Her ‘yes’ seems to be about acquiescence as much as love. The newlyweds move to a farm on the Mississippi Delta at a time when US troops are fighting overseas. They share common ground with a black tenant family who till their land, and also have a family member fighting the Nazis.

‘Mudbound’

The actress and director talked about the social hierarchy of the time, from the perspective of race, class and generations. Mulligan sees Laura as a well-meaning woman who is troubled: “She grasps onto motherhood to be the thing that can save her, but she’s not quite sure who she is. Moving to the farm is the making of her, and the breaking of her at the same time.”

The questioning of Laura’s own beliefs and position in society comes about through her kinship with brother-in-law Jamie (Garrett Hedlund) and her friendship with black neighbour Florence (Mary J Blige). The bonding of the women was important for Mulligan to get into character and in helping her deliver a powerful performance. …

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