When Eloise Mumford was cast as Kate Kavanagh in the Fifty Shades empire, she had no idea she was headed for global recognition and rabid fanfare of the steamy narrative, she just knew acting was on her horizon.
Eloise graduated in 2009 from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts as well as the Atlantic Acting School. While in college, Mumford got her fair share of screen time with Hollywood Heavyweights starring with Jesse Eisenberg in the sleeper hit short film Some Boys Don’t Leave, as well as understudying with Elisabeth Moss in the Broadway production of Speed the Plow.
These days Eloise is making her own way on the walk of fame in cult classics and appearances all over the big and small screen alike. We get to know more about the talented actress, how 50 Shades changed her path to success and the new vibe in Hollywood.
Hi Eloise! You’ve been with Fifty Shades of Grey since the inception, what was that moment like when you realized this was going to be a Blockbuster?
The books were such a global phenomenon that I knew as soon as I was cast in the movie that I was in for quite the ride. It was thrilling to be a part of something so global- I remember when the first movie came out it was the 3rd highest grossing film directed by a woman of all time and the 4th highest grossing R-rated film of all time which was really exciting in a world where there aren’t enough female directors.
Who were you with for the first time you screened the movie? I bet it was quite steamy… Was it easier screening 50 Shades Darker?
I watched 50 Shades of Grey for the first time in a theater with only my agent. She was sick and was eating chicken noodle soup while we watched it- we sat side by side and giggled at what a funny way it was to watch the movie. For Darker I saw it for the first time at the actual premiere, with a huge theater packed with fans. My little brother was my date and Victor Rasuk (who plays Jose) was sitting right behind me. It was a blast getting to hear the audience’s reactions in real time.
When you first walk unto set for such a large production, can you describe the feeling?
It’s sometimes overwhelming when you realize how many people will eventually watch what you are filming in any given moment on set- I just try to focus on the actor in front of me, on the people surrounding me, and on the story. We were so lucky to have an amazing crew, many of whom I became good friends with, and that is the best thing you can ask for as an actor on any set, especially one that is so huge. There were definitely butterflies- but I always think nerves mean that you are invested, and I never want to lose that feeling.
What did your parents want you to be when you were younger?
Just happy, I think. I don’t think they ever thought I would be a film and television actress- we didn’t even have a TV growing up! But here I am!
Your reel is very diverse, what is one genre or project that would be a passion role for you?
I have this fantasy right now of playing Nora in a modern adaptation of Ibsen’s A DOLL’S HOUSE. I went to NYU’s Tisch School of the arts, so the theater nerd in me loves the old classic plays. And I think right now with all that is happening with women’s rights, both in an incredible way socially with #timesup and #metoo but also simultaneously in a very scary way politically, the themes of that play would resonate loudly.
I know that your character Kate changes throughout the films, but how have you changed the most since you got involved with the project?
Oh my goodness, I’ve changed so much. It’s been 4 years since I was cast as Kate and in a lot of ways, it feels like a lifetime ago. I went through some pretty tough years romantically which turned into some of the most phenomenal years ever with my best women friends and my family, I began writing, I cut bangs twice and dyed my hair pink once, I became an aunt… Mostly I just feel like my feet are on the ground in a way that feels right.
What jumped out the most to you about Kate Kavanagh’s character when you first started the role?
Her fiercely loyal friendship with Ana. I wanted to portray a strong, supportive, constantly growing friendship on screen that reflected the incredible friendships I have with my best friends. Those friendships are the moorings of life- and I wanted to pay homage to that.
Let’s talk politics, can you share the vibe in Hollywood right now with the #METOO, #TIMESUP movement? Has there been a sense of relief of sorts that there would be a “new” Hollywood?
I can’t tell you how thrilling it is to have the issues of sexual assault, harassment, and power dynamics being talked about so publicly and pressingly. These issues are not new and they are not unique to Hollywood- however, this public conversation certainly feels new. We have so much work to do in this industry and in every industry. But there is such adrenaline in finally being able to talk about something out loud that we have all been experiencing privately- and the amount of movement towards change in just a few months gives me great hope. There is so much work to do. The statistics are disheartening. But great change starts small and is hard, and it really feels like the gut-wrenching work we are doing now is for our daughters, so that they don’t have to experience the same institutionalized sexism that every woman in the world experience today. I hope that everyone reading this has signed the letter supporting #timesup and donated what they can- and maybe the most important, continues to have conversations with the men and women around them about these issues so that awareness ripples out and out.
What stresses you out and how do you alienate your stress?
How quickly time is passing stresses me out! I listen to a lot of podcasts about science to try to slow it all down.
Lastly, what is next for you? Give us your right now plan and a dream trajectory for your career.
I just finished filming a movie called WE ARE UNSATISFIED with Billy Crystal and Ben Schwartz, which was a blast. I’ve been writing a lot- I’m working on a script right now that I’m really excited about. I am so inspired by women like Greta Gerwig who are incredible actors but are also so fierce behind the lens too. As for a dream trajectory, I just want to get to play complex, ever-expanding women and get to work with strong, fearless directors, like Reed Morano, Ava Duvernay, Patty Jenkins, and Sarah Polley.
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