rebecca hall online
- -
Rebecca Hall chats about being Vicky in ‘Barcelona’

In Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, British actress Rebecca Hall is seemingly the only one who doesn’t kiss Scarlett Johansson.

“I got out of it, so I don’t have to worry about answering that question,” she jokes, referring to Johansson’s amorous and much-ballyhooed smooch with co-star Penelope Cruz. “It’s not what you’d expect from Woody, I suppose. I can understand the controversy. But anyone going to see it for that reason will be disappointed.”

In the romantic dramedy, now in theaters, Hall’s Vicky — an acid-tongued American with control issues — spends the summer in the titular Spanish city with her more free-spirited friend Cristina (Johansson). They become entangled with a local painter (Javier Bardem) and his loco ex-wife (Cruz).

Hall, 26, will next be seen this winter in Ron Howard’s Frost/Nixon, the retelling of the post-Watergate interviews between British host David Frost and beleaguered former president Richard Nixon. But right now, she has Spain on the brain.

Your Vicky is a pretty outspoken, tough woman. Are you anything like her?
I’m not nearly as pragmatic and organized. All four of the women in the movie show some kind of stereotype of femininity on the surface, but it gets subverted. I can relate — I understand implicitly the choices she makes. I can understand someone who has a vulnerability that is masked by putting up a lot of austere and organized defense mechanisms.

Vicky has to choose between the safety of an American husband and the passion of Bardem’s painter. What would you have done?
She’s not a predictable heroine. You’d expect her to realize that she has all this passion underneath and let loose and run off. But she lacks the courage to act on those instincts. That’s human to make that choice. I’d like to think I wouldn’t, but I think it’s sad.

How did you nail that American accent so well?
I didn’t have a dialect coach. There wasn’t enough money. I did it myself. My mum’s American. She’s from Detroit. It gives me confidence that I’m not being a complete fool. I’m used to the sounds.

That must have helped you land the role.
I got a call from my agent that Woody wanted to meet me. I didn’t know there was a film or a script. I went in, said hello and he asked if I could do an American accent. I said yes, blankly. He took me on trust. He said, “Nice to meet you and bye.”

Were you able to enjoy Barcelona or did the paparazzi go nuts?
There was a lot of attention on the movie because Penelope and Javier are the king and queen of Spain. Scarlett is a big star. Not much shoots in Barcelona. It was like some sort of state visit. I’d get to walk around undetected and explore the city. We had a couple of great times all hanging out. It was good. They have a great nightlife.

And now you’re back at home?
Back in London. Back to reality. I just finished, five minutes ago, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. It’s really very good. Now I’m about to start The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.

© USA Today 2008