Sienna Miller, 35, stars as a girl from the wrong side of the tracks alongside Ben Affleck, who plays a notorious gangster, in Live By Night, a 1920s crime drama based on the novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane.
Miller is an actress, model and fashion designer and most recently starred in American Sniper, and Foxcatcher, in 2014. A versatile talent, she also performed in the hit musical, Cabaret, on Broadway, in 2015 in the title role as Sally Bowles.
One of the themes of the movie is about karma – what you put out into the world comes back to you. Do you agree with this theory?
Yes, I think goodness can boomerang back. I think there’s reward in giving and receiving. I’m sure that negative behaviour perpetuates negative responses and I’m sure that as human beings we’ve all experienced both sides of it. But it is a profound statement. It is something that I think resonates.
What was your experience like working with Ben Affleck? Did you know him before this movie?
I’d actually first met Ben the first ever time I came to L.A. I was brought here to do a screen test for a movie called Paycheck, with Ben. I was twenty-one, had never been here, and I didn’t get the part. Uma Thurman got the part. But I’d had this experience of a screen test with him and it was so exciting. And he’d always, since that moment, been a real supporter from afar. We were at the same agency. And so I’d admired him enormously for his achievements. And also been very grateful for the support that he’d show me from afar throughout my career. He, as a filmmaker, is generous, trusting, hyper intelligent and funny. He’s raising three children, producing, directing, writing and starring in a film. He really takes a back seat in order to get the performance he wants from you, putting himself not first. As a human being I could not be more effusive. I really admire and respect him deeply.
What does the title, Live by Night mean to you?
I think in this era, in the Prohibition era, everything was shrouded in secrecy and everything was being done under the table. And so a lot of the deals and the drama took place at night.
How much of a night person are you?
I have a four year old so I’m far more a creature of the night than I care to be these days because she’s in the delightful habit of just crawling into my room several times in the evening. I think when you’re younger the night is exciting and you can go out with friends and have fun. Unfortunately those days are far, far gone for me, raising a four year old. As far as he symbolism of it, I think we all know what living by night is. I was never someone that loved like clubbing but the night does provide a sort of excitement.
She was what you’d describe as a scrapper. Did you like that about her?
Yes. I admire that about her, her survival instinct. I feel like that era was the first time that there was a small revolution for women. Skirts got shorter. Corsets came off. People chopped of their hair. I mean there was something going on and people often attribute that to the sixties as a real revolution for women but, I believe that it really began there. And I think she was in touch with that somehow.
Are you a scrapper?
Of course I am! No, I’m not really a scrapper. What, as in pick fights? No. I was joking, I’m English, these things come out. I’m a weird dichotomy. In some ways very much, in some ways insecure, otherwise I wouldn’t be an actress. I don’t think. It’s a very common trait. My job is to pretend to be other people. I mean, it’s odd.
Do you have any pieces from this era in your wardrobe?
I have some twenties pieces yeah. I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to vintage things. I love the history of authentic clothes. So I have things that I would never wear that just are hanging around.
Where do you store all your pieces?
Just the odd piece I have hanging them around. I’m going to be that mad old lady wearing hats with cats. I’m quite Edie Beale. They’re just dotted around, things of beauty.
How would you describe your relationship to fashion?
I don’t think I have much of a relationship with it. I’m fortunate where I get to borrow nice things and have to do events. And that’s part of our job as actresses. They’re so aligned now those worlds, fashion and film but on a day-to-day basis it’s not something I particularly consider. It’s like, leggings and sweatshirts on the school run. I love being able to wear lovely things. And then you send them back at the end of the night. It’s great.
Whose idea was it to name you Sienna?
It was my parents. I think, I imagine it was more my mother. I think it was between Tuscany, Aurora, Ophelia or Sienna. So I’m quite glad. They’re all intense and dramatic, like my mother. So I think it was probably her.