Actresses in the year's biggest films recall moments on set



Emily Blunt
Queen Victoria in "The Young Victoria"
"Filming in those historic locations was really helpful because you're walking the corridors that they walked. We filmed a scene where I sleep in the same bed that Victoria actually slept in, so things like that were remarkable -- and a little spooky. I think it was in Arundel Castle, where we filmed King William's big dinner scene and everybody working in the castle swore there was a ghost living there who just happened to be called Emily. And I scare very easily! We were staying in cottages around the castle, which was really amazing, but I remember racing across the grass to get to my cottage and it was that thing where the key couldn't go in the door quickly enough. The best thing to do on a film set is to keep any fears or embarrassing problems quiet because otherwise you'll get pranked in some way."

Marion Cotillard
Luisa in "Nine"
"We were all so nervous about the dancing and singing, so we really shared a lot of things together. My childhood dream was to do an American musical, but I never thought it would be possible. I'll never forget the day we where shooting this scene with Penelope Cruz and Nicole Kidman and Daniel Day-Lewis in a bed and I couldn't believe that I was in this huge set with this amazing director (Rob Marshall) and all these talented people. I think they ultimately cut the scene from the film but it didn't matter. It was one of those moments where I took a step back and really found myself surrounded by all this magical creativity. I really saw myself as that little kid watching that musical and singing along with the TV and then here I was dancing and singing myself."

Penelope Cruz
Carla in "Nine"
"I remember the day that Sophia Loren arrived on set. Everybody just wanted to be there and talk to her the whole time. We all had our own private rooms where we could go to think and study and eat, but nobody would want to go and eat by themselves. I had to gain a few pounds for the part. Rob Marshall and I decided that we wanted Carla to have more curves -- not many, just a few. Because I was exercising at least five hours a day, I had to eat much more than normally because if not I was going to be too skinny. So I was just eating nonstop. But Sophia was always looking at my plate and complaining that I wasn't eating, even though I'd have three helpings at every lunch and dinner. But it was never enough for her. We developed this mother-daughter thing, which sometimes can happen on set, and we became good friends, probably for a lifetime."

Vera Farmiga
Alex in "Up in the Air"
"The chemistry on set with George Clooney was instant, but he won me over when I was in my eighth month of pregnancy and I was fairly large when I was being considered for the role. I heard that George really championed me, saying something to the effect of, 'Who cares? Let her be chubby!' I mean, those weren't his exact words, but that's how I heard them and I thought, 'I like this man!' And I collapsed in his energy from the moment I met him. He's a wholly loving kind of person, and so much fun -- although I'm not sure I ever got to know George Clooney. It felt like most of the time when we weren't shooting, he was talking like Billy Bob Thornton's character in 'Sling Blade.' He's a real silly butt."


Julianne Moore
Charlotte in "A Single Man"
"Colin Firth and I are the same age and we work with a lot of the same people and have a lot of friends in common, but we've missed working on jobs together by a hair. So I felt like I knew him because there had been so many opportunities to get together that we hadn't had. It was just a great and very easy time. I was very, very lucky because it doesn't always happen like that, although you always hope that it does. Even though it was Tom Ford's first film, the mood on set was very loose and incredibly collaborative and fun. Tom would say again and again how much he was enjoying himself. His energy never flagged. It was reflected everywhere in every department. Everybody was happy to come to work."

Natalie Portman
Grace Cahill in "Brothers"
"Jim Sheridan gets very involved as a director. He'll just jump in and improvise with you and he's probably the best actor I've ever worked with, even though he isn't an actor. It keeps you on your toes, and listening and aware. The writers strike was going on while we were shooting it and we had a script that sort of needed a rewrite that never got one. So it was up to us to make everything work. There was a scene with me and Tobey Maguire that we just weren't figuring out. And there was a period of four hours when we were just talking it out on set. It was amazing, because I don't know any other director that wouldn't shoot for four hours to figure out the scene just to make it right. It was pretty wonderful to have that opportunity. The strike definitely made (the experience) a lot more exploratory for us."