She played a "perfect 10" in the crowd-pleasing comedy, She's Out of My League, but that rating might be downplaying Alice Eve's real-life charms. A beautiful, soft-spoken and quick-witted native of London, Eve got her start in British television, and in little-seen independent features like Stage Beauty and Big Nothing. Now she's sharing the screen (and her heart) with John Cusack in The Raven, a brooding thriller that tracks Edgar Allan Poe's efforts to find a serial murderer.
"Obviously, this is a fictitious account," Eve jokes. "I play an amalgamation of the four muses who populated [Poe's] life. What I like about my character, Emily, is that she is very tenacious and intelligent and just as forward-thinking as Poe. No one else really 'got' Poe at the time, so she must have something going on upstairs."
For Eve, Emily's resourcefulness, independence and verve made the role an irresistible gift. And the opportunity to fall in love with leading man Cusack was an added bonus she won't soon forget.
"John is a character," Eve says with a smile. "We definitely went on a journey together, working these two people out. Working out, you know, if this is real love, and what they'd shared and what they hadn't. For me, this was a real romance story... And he's obviously an icon, so I felt very lucky to know and to work as closely with him as I did."
It's a rare romance, though, that buries its leading lady alive! In The Raven, Eve's character battles not only her father's disapproval of her relationship with Poe, but also a villain who locks her in an underground coffin and dares Poe to find her.
"We filmed [that sequence] in November," Eve says. "Then we went back in January and did some more. It was horrific knowing, all of Christmas, that I was going to go back there in January — back into the box! It was pretty rough, but it was also cool to get to do it. Usually, if you're buried alive, that's gonna be the last time that happens, isn't it?"
Above ground, Eve's movements were constricted by 19th-century women's fashion: petticoats, hoops, and corsets aplenty. But it didn't take too long for her to get accustomed to the Victorian way of life.
"People are sort of fascinated by the corsets," Eve says, "[but] I think they're the same as high heels. Once you [embrace] something that is ‘no pain, no gain,’ then you just get used to it. We wear high heels like they don’t count, but they are terrible for you and they’re worse than corsets, really, because they affect your whole back. At least a corset keeps you straight.”
This summer, Eve will be seen in Men in Black III, trading quips with who else but Will Smith. But today, as The Raven prepares to spook moviegoers everywhere, its leading lady is focused on "boldly going" on a journey with JJ Abrams' Star Trek sequel.
"I'm right in the middle of filming Star Trek, so my mind is on the girl I'm playing now. I want to keep her safe. I want to tell you everything about her, but I can't tell you anything. I can't tell you anything other than that she's great!"
As her career continues to flourish with mainstream, big-budget successes, Eve says she's proud to look back on the disciplined approach she took to learning her craft and on the value of the education that brought her where she is today.
"I became a careerwoman [after college], when my colleagues and peers were doing it, whether they were going off to do journalism in the city, or whatever it was. So I would recommend university to any young person. It's the most important thing in the world. I don't think I'd be anything without my education, really. Maybe funny, occasionally, but that's all."
The Raven flaps its wings on April 27.
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