The film premiered at Berlin Film Festival this month (before heading to SXSW in March), which is where we met the talented young actress, over a coffee on a rather brisk Tuesday afternoon. It was the first time Shipka had seen the picture on the big screen, and she admitted that despite being the lead protagonist, she was able to immerse herself in the feature and enjoy it as an audience member would.
“I really enjoyed it, I thought it was a great movie,” she said. “It’s fun to watch and I enjoyed seeing the scenes between other people that I wasn’t involved with, it was cool to see those. It was a neat experience. It’s still surreal, but I totally got lost in the movie because Andrew did such good work.”
It was the meeting with the director which tempted the actress into this film, inspired by his outline and vision for this passion project.
“I really liked the script, I thought it was super well-written and I liked the concept,” she continued. “Once I talked with Andrew, our meeting over Skype went really well and he seemed to have a good vision for the whole film.
“When you meet with a director you get to talk about their process and creative vision for the film and hear their thoughts about it, so that often seals the deal, for sure.”
Shipka plays Eva, who alongside her brother Zac (Timothée Chalamet), is cut off from the outside world, growing up in an isolated area of the woods, and surrounded by a colossal wall. Though both have supernatural powers which could allow them the chance to escape. Yet in spite of the surrealism that exists, Shipka tells us she was able to relate to the character on a human level.
“We’re very different and obviously in very different circumstances, but I understood her. If I was in that situation I’d be super curious about the outside world as well. She gets hints of it, like aeroplanes going by, and she knows there’s something more, but not sure exactly what. I too would be very interested. I think she’s great.”
It’s fair to assume though, that the character Shipka feels most of an affinity with, is Sally Draper, having been on Mad Men for over half of her life – first appearing on the series when just seven years of age. With the ending in sight, she told us of her sadness that this chapter of her life is coming to an end.
“It was a complete adventure, and totally a great chapter in my life which I guess is kind of closing,” she said.
“It’s just something that is so familiar, so the fact it’s not going any more is very odd because it was such a part of my life for so long. I was on the show for over half of my life, so I have so many great memories and it’s just always there. And now it’s ending – but all good things must come to an end. But it’s still sad.”
We had spoken to Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones fame earlier in the festival, who explained that in spite of the sadness that inevitably comes from finishing a project of this ilk, she was looking forward to the freedom that is somewhat liberating for any actor. Shipka admits that it’s something of a positive amidst the sadness.
“It’s interesting. I’m definitely looking forward to exploring movies more and doing other projects, that’ll be super fun,” she said. “I love playing a lot of different characters so that’s something that is very exciting indeed – but at the same time, Mad Men was such a special project and a dream job that letting go of it is still hard. I love the character so much and the people so much, that it’s not easy to say goodbye, but the future is definitely exciting.
“Being on Mad Men from such a young age was a really cool thing, especially in how I was influenced and inspired. Also, it was a great set to grow up on because the people are so great and so nice. I learned so much and it was like acting school for me, and being surrounded by all these people who are so good at what they do was such an interesting thing.”
Of course with the final episodes so close, there is a lot of speculation surrounding the finale and how the show will conclude. For Shipka, keeping it all locked up inside is an easy task.
“At this point we’re sworn to secrecy so much that it’s ingrained that I don’t tell anyone. It’s always been that way and I totally get it. It’s such routine now that it doesn’t even cross my mind to tell anyone else, I’m just super secretive about it.”