[INTERVIEW] Cursing helped Eva Green get over her fears training for ‘DUMBO’

Eva Green and Dumbo in DUMBO. Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.

Courtney Howard // Film Critic

Actors seemingly have it easy – especially when they are playing a supporting role in a fantasy film starring a titular CG animal. That is unless they are called to do something that pushes their already relaxed boundaries. Eva Green found this out when she was offered the role as trapeze aerialist Colette Marchant in director Tim Burton’s DUMBO. Her glamourous high-flying act required her to soar in the air with the greatest of ease. However, the charismatic actress first had to get over her greatest fear of heights first.

At the film’s Los Angeles press conference, she shared,

The circus people were very patient, very kind with me. I was absolutely petrified. I thought I would never be able to do that.

The training process took around eight weeks, which helped the former Bond girl get in perfect physical and, more importantly, mental shape for the role.

For two months, every day, I trained. You need a very strong core as well. Very strong abs. Very strong arms. Little by little, I’d go higher and higher and higher. And that was amazing.

This personally enriching journey led Green to develop a helpful trick to overcoming her fear.

I found a trick, which was to sing in French. Like, “Whoa! Off you go!” You swear and you sing. I surprised myself. It was a miracle.

Eva Green in DUMBO. Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.

Green’s many breathtaking costumes, designed by fellow frequent Burton collaborator Colleen Atwood, include a gorgeous getup for Colette’s debut with Dumbo. She was able to tweak how aerialists would typically present to perfectly suit the spirit of the characters’ unique circus performance.

Traditionally, aerialists wore capes in their presentation. They’d come out with a cape over their costume and take it off. Because she didn’t mount the stairs in the traditional [way], you needed that moment to be a totally different moment. So her moment was coming out, going up, dropping that skirt and having it float to the ground.

Atwood stated the costume’s tear-away skirt was constructed very carefully so it would be light as air.

I made the skirt out of this material…a lot of it is tulle, but I made it out of aluminum and nylon. It’s very lightweight so it didn’t just drop like an anchor to the ground – to keep it floating down. It also kept the weight off of it because it’s a lot of skirt.

Eva Green and Dumbo in DUMBO. Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.

DUMBO opens on March 29.

About author

Courtney Howard

Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, CCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.