With its cast of past Oscar nominees and winners -- Denzel Washington chief among them, but also Melissa Leo, Don Cheadle and hopeful 2012 nominee John Goodman -- "Flight" is one of the most actor-driven movies of the fall. Yet it's Kelly Reilly who gives the film's most unexpected turn. The British actress -- best known for playing Jude Law's onscreen love in the "Sherlock Holmes" films -- stars as Nicole in "Flight," a heroin addict who helps Washington's Whip Whitaker slowly come to terms with his own addiction issues after he crash-lands a passenger jet. Reilly spoke to HuffPost Entertainment about playing an heroin user, what her first meeting with Washington was like and how come any Oscar talk for her might be a tad overblown.
How much preparation did you have to do for the role?
If it's there in the script it makes your life a lot easier. You're not searching for something. You're not trying to figure out how to make this character believable or real. You're not trying to skirt around bad writing. This character, to me, just jumped out. I already felt a kinship to her; I wanted to play her. I knew that this sort of addiction that got hold of her so tightly was a symptom of this woman's heartbreak. I knew there was somebody underneath worth fighting for. There are all these stereotypes of heroin addicts being junkies or drop outs or people who we shouldn't care about. I just thought that can't be true. They're somebody's son or daughter; they're human beings. They're just lost. That is something John [Gatins] got in his script. I really wanted to play that rather than the stereotype of the heroin addict.
However, I did need to learn about heroin. I knew nothing about what it does to you physically or how powerful it is. So, I googled a lot for about a week. Then that wasn't getting me any answers other than some horrifying things. So I actually went to talk to someone who had gone through it. The production company was able to put me in touch with somebody who very kindly volunteered their story. They had to answer all these very stupid questions that I had. Just stuff that I had no idea about, and he shared with me those things. He informed some of the stuff she was feeling and how even though he knew he had no veins left in his arms, he would still do it in his foot or other parts of the body. Just to get that hit.
There are so many great actors in this film doing customarily great work. When you first read the script, did you just know it would provide opportunity for an acting clinic?
I knew that John Goodman, Don Cheadle and Melissa Leo were all on board. Those are all people who I admire and respect: They're character actors. They come in and do their thing and do it so brilliantly. Then, that all those people wanted to be involved with Robert Zemeckis -- I think it was the script but it was also Bob. He's made such good movies and he's such a wonderful man. He's super smart and super kind. Just the stories he wants to tell are not easy and not comfortable but incredibly entertaining. How do you toe-the-line between making popular, commercial movies and be talking about such issues that he's dealing with in a real way? I don't know.
Plus, you get to work with Denzel Washington. What was your audition for the film like?
They wanted me to go to L.A. to meet him. Firstly, I didn't know how it would be. They're always kind of awkward -- you know, you're in a room and there is a lot of small talk. I'm not my best at that. He went, "Let's read some of the scenes." I was like, "Thank God, we can just get into the work." We started to read together. It was just immediately exciting. Just to get to do what I do with somebody who is so good. He kind of throws it back at you -- it's almost like playing sports. I had such an adrenaline kick from that audition that I walked out and thought, "It doesn't matter if I don't get it, that was just a wonderful experience." I had just done a scene with Denzel Washington for an hour. He's such a powerful actor. I likened it to being in the ring with a heavyweight. It's so all-consuming. He's very truthful.
There is a lot of Oscar chatter around the film. Have you given any thought to what it would be like if you were nominated?
I know there is a lot of buzz around Denzel and the film. A few people have kind of suggested that it could be a possibility for me. I don't see it myself. That's just not me being humble or anything. I genuinely don't imagine that to be the case. Mine is more of a quiet performance and I don't think it's an award winner. I still feel incredibly flattered to have people even suggest that. As much as it was never a dream of mine -- a dream of mine would be to be on stage in New York -- it would still be a mind-blowing thing to happen [especially] for something you feel proud of.
Do you keep up with the Oscar races?
I just want to see the good movies. I don't really care who wins. It's not something I think is the be-all, end-all. Just to see some of the performances out there this year, for an actor, is so exciting. It makes me love my job even more. Some years there are not such a good collection, but this year there are some really wonderful, serious, talented people out there. I feel really happy to be counted among them.
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