Best known for her critically lauded role in Inception with Leonardo DiCaprio, Alex Lombard has appeared in such popular TV series as “Big Love” and “How I Met Your Mother.” Raised in South Carolina, the talented Lombard will delight fans as Gabrielle in the much anticipated Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. In the film everyone seems to talking about, Lombard will play the love interest of vampire Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper). Before heading to New York for the world premiere of Vampire Hunter, Lombard was kind enough to answer a few questions about her role and her life as a rising young actress.
Can you go into your role in Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter?
Alex Lombard: I play Gabrielle, the girlfriend of Henry Sturgess, who’s played by Dominic Cooper. Henry is this 900-year old vampire who takes Abraham Lincoln under his wing and teaches him the ways of the vampire world. There are good vampires and bad vampires, and he shows Abe how to distinguish between them and how to hunt them. Gabrielle is sort of free spirited, fun and flirty. She brings a little bit of levity to the movie. Abe definitely finds them in a couple of compromising positions. It’s all meant in good fun and hopefully it will get a laugh.
What attracted you to this role?
AL: First of all, I thought the title was hilarious. I was familiar with the book and I was so thrilled to learn that they were going to adapt it to a movie. But the title itself, I mean, what a great idea for a match up. Super funny, super intriguing. And when I found out who was on board, it was really a dream team of people to work with. So I was really excited.
Did you audition for the role and what was that like?
AL: I did. It’s funny. They told me very specifically what to wear because my character doesn’t have a lot of clothes on in this movie. I usually follow those directions to a “t,” but for some reason, in this audition, I decided to do my own thing, so I wore this beautiful Victorian–like lace up corset. And I thought, this is fine, since I wanted to show them that I’m in the genre of the movie. But I think they wanted me to wear a bikini top or something. So I showed up in this corset and, of course, they came back and said we’re going to need pictures of you in an actual bikini—we need to see “the goods.” They were sort of embarrassed, but they said we hate to have to ask you this question but, are your breasts real? Because, women in the 1800s didn’t have fake breasts. So there was a lot of back and forth with me sending them pictures. But it was really a fun ride, getting cast for the movie.
So you’re not wearing any of those lovely period piece costumes?
AL: No. I’m wearing a “period piece” sheet–an 18th century sheet. I was wearing some really great-looking period costumes, but I don’t think those parts ever made it into the movie. But I did get to hang out in the costume department, check out some amazing costumes, and see what real corsets were like.
What was the most challenging part of this film for you?
AL: Nothing was super challenging except everyone asked me about being naked. I literally was naked with Dominic Cooper in a bathtub my very first day of work. Everyone thinks that was challenging, but I was just so excited to be there. Besides, it’s not like we’re shooting this in someone’s back yard; it’s a $70 million dollar film. I was so thrilled to be part of it that I just jumped in.
Are you in any action or special effects scenes, leaping across buildings?
AL: I wish I were. I think that would’ve been so cool, because I’m such a fan of Timur–I loved what he did in Wanted. Everyone’s asking me if I got to do action sequences, but no. I didn’t even get any fangs. Hopefully in the next film, I will.
What was it like working with Timur (Bekmambetov)?
AL: He’s great. He basically gave me a lot of artistic freedom and let me have fun and play with the role. That’s pretty much all you could ask for. He’s just a generous, lovely, smart director who’s really easy to be around. Super open and I really enjoyed getting to know him.
Were you excited to hear that Tim Burton was going to be involved?
AL: I’ve been a fan of his for so long. He’s such a cinematic icon.
What genre do you like to work in?
AL: I love anything that’s a period piece. Anything from the 1700s to the 1880s. I love going back in time and dressing up. It’s so easy to lose yourself and get into your character that way.
Is there an accent that you had to develop for Gabrielle?
AL: I heard something about a mid-Atlantic accent, but everyone was pretty much there with their accent.
Where did they shoot the film?
AL: New Orleans. It’s such a magical place to begin with. The whole city is like a movie set, and to be there for this film was really amazing.
What were you like in High School? Cheerleader? Nerd? Class president?
AL: I went to an all-girls Episcopalian high school in the South, which was kind of like going to school in a J. Crew catalog. I was respected but not the most popular. I was more of an Ally Sheedy type, to the point of looking like her. But I wasn’t quite as avant-garde as she was. I was studious and kept my nose to the grindstone. I studied hard and was a ballerina “bunhead,” very focused, which gives you a peek into my psyche.
Did you take drama? Were you in plays?
AL: I was interested in plays and did a lot of ballet. When I got a little older in high school, I did some community theater work, including some work in the Dock Street Theatre (in Charleston, South Carolina) one of the country’s oldest theaters. The whole city is steeped in so much history. It was a great place to grow up.
What was your first acting job?
AL: That’s a great question. I had so many false starts. I was cast in so many roles, but either the movie lacked funding or the project fell through or something else happened, so it’s kind of hard for me to remember my very first paid gig. My very first job ever was probably a music video were I got in front of the camera. After that, it was “How I Met Your Mother.”
Which did you like more, “How I Met Your Mother” or “Big Love”?
AL: Before I did “Big Love,” I wanted to be in a sit-com. People looked at me and said, “You’re a drama girl, you’re an episodic girl. You’ve got these angular features and dark hair. You belong in a one-hour show.” And I thought, no, I really want to be like a Megan Mullally. I want to so something broad.
Now that you’ve done this vampire film, do you look forward to doing more work in the genre?
AL: I think it’s super cool. I think my first foray into the vampire genre was probably just being a fan of “True Blood,” watching it on TV like everyone else and saying, “God, I’d love to be on that show.”
What can you tell me about your next upcoming film, Man Without a Head?
AL: The filmmaker is playing his cards very close to the vest on that one, so I can’t tell you too much about it. He’s creating his own other worldly experience. It’s an artistic film. It’s not a period piece, but the director really went all out with the costumes and the set design, creating another world, a world that exits inside his head. I think it will be really interesting.