Carey Mulligan Is Protective of Her "Unlikeable" Character in 'Wildlife': "We Can't All Be Perfect"

"I enjoy portraying someone who's just human but trying, and hopefully you still have empathy [for]," Mulligan told The Hollywood Reporter.

When Carey Mulligan read the script for Paul Dano’s directorial debut Wildlife, adapted from the 1990 novel by Richard Ford, she was drawn to her character Jeanette having a “freaky nostalgic moment,” telling The Hollywood Reporter, “I think she’s woken up in the body of a 34-year-old woman who has a son and a husband but can’t quite figure out how she got there.”  

Jake Gyllenhaal stars alongside Mulligan in the drama about a couple whose marriage falls apart in a small Montana town in the 1960s, told through the eyes of their 14-year-old son (Ed Oxenbould). Jerry (Gyllenhaal) leaves home in search of a purpose while his wife Jeanette (Mulligan) finds comfort in another man.

“She’s being triggered by things that remind her of the past and remind her of all this opportunity that lay before her, before she met him, so this week is like, ‘If I’m not a wife and I’m a failing mother, who am I?’ And she can’t figure it out so she’s trying to answer that question,” she explained.

For the actress, while her character may be deemed “unsympathetic or unlikeable,” she says, “I think she’s just having a really rough week and people are so hard on women.”

“We’re so tough on women and I think we have such crazy expectations of what is possible and what people can be capable and I think women are capable of extraordinary things, but I think we’re fallible and we make mistakes. I think we’re just not used to seeing that reflected onscreen because we are brought up with fairy tale princess stories.”

She continued: “We can’t all be perfect all the time so I enjoyed portraying someone who’s just human but trying, and hopefully you still have empathy [for]. I feel protective.”

Watch the video above to hear Mulligan discuss working with first-time director Dano, the scene in the film that she was “most concerned” about and more.