Emily Browning is done with playing nice.
“’Nice’ is a word that I have such a problem with,” says the 28-year-old, over the phone from her home in L.A. “Girls are expected to be nice. And when I think of ‘nice’ I think of a bristled facade of politeness and not taking up too much space — I’m not a big fan of the word ‘nice.’”
Looking at the Aussie actress, it’s not hard to see why she might be sought after for nice girl parts, given her delicate features and sweet demeanor. But she’s relishing the chance to play a woman who is “certainly not nice” on Starz’ “American Gods,” which premiered on April 30 and was recently renewed for a second season.
This week on the show’s fourth episode, Browning’s character Laura is properly introduced into the plot line as the wife of the main character Shadow Moon; the series is based on the wildly successful book series.
“I’d never read a character like Laura before,” says Browning, a Melbourne native who has lived in L.A. for the past four years. “It was so unapologetic and flawed and really complicated. I loved her immediately.
“She’s depressed essentially and she’s numb — I think she has issues with empathy, and lack thereof. She can’t really comprehend other people’s feelings,” Browning continues. “I just jumped at the chance to play a role like that. I feel like so often the characters that I read — a lot of female characters in general — are written as either these kind of virtuous upstanding girls who’ve gone through a difficult time and they’re very innocent or it’s the Madonna/whore complex. And I think roles for women are definitely getting better now and it’s certainly a lot better in TV. But you’d be surprised how many roles I read that are just, like, the wife who doesn’t do anything.”
“American Gods” joins her roster of other fantasy projects, including “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” “Sucker Punch” and “Pompeii.”
“It’s not that I dislike fantasy or have anything against it, it’s just that that is not naturally the genre that I gravitate toward,” she says. “I have a feeling that I’ve been cast in those kinds of films before because I don’t know what it is but people feel like I’m able to play the kind of character who is reacting to bizarre things around them. And what was exciting to me about Laura is that she is not the character reacting to the bizarre thing — she is one of the bizarre things. It’s a lot more fun to be one of the strange things.”