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Carey Mulligan on acting, and her other life

Carey Mulligan played Daisy Buchanan opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2013 film "The Great Gatsby." It's a role unlike any she's played before, or since -- which is just the way she likes it. Ben Tracy has our Sunday Profile:

Whether she is dancing with "The Great Gatsby," being seduced by a con man in "An Education," or fighting for equal rights in "Suffragette," the one thing Carey Mulligan does not want you to see onscreen is ... Carey Mulligan.

"We live in a time where so many people seem so desperate to be famous, and you actively fight against it," said Tracy.


"Growing up, I wanted to be an actress and I wanted to pretend to be other people, and for people to believe that I was other people," Mulligan said. "I don't want people to watch me on screen and think about who I'm married to or where I live or what restaurant they've seen me coming out of. I want to sort of trick people. And I think they shouldn't know a lot about you, and nor do they need to."

The Hollywood Reporter just declared Mulligan one of the eight great actresses working today, but despite that, she is still one of the least recognizable.

She changes her look according to her roles. "If I see someone who looks identical from film to film but playing different people, I just find that harder to buy," she said. "So I try to look different."

She's transformed herself once again in her latest film, "Suffragette." She plays a woman who loses custody of her son in the violent fight for women's rights in early 20th century Britain.

"My agent called me and said, 'They're making a film about the Suffragettes.' And I was like, cool, Mary Poppins and, you know, ladies drinking tea. And then I read the script and it just completely changed everything. I was just so shocked by everything that I read in it."

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Carey Mulligan is a laundress who becomes active in the fight for voting rights for women in early 20th century Britain, in "Suffragette."
Focus Features

"It was so shocking that we'd never told this story. But sort of so shocking to remember that this is still the case with so many women now. Sixty-two million girls in the world can't go to school, one in three women experience sexual violence. So it never felt like we were making historical drama; it felt like were sort of saluting these women for the sacrifices they made, but also trying to look at where we are now and bring it back 'round to the modern day."

"This also happens at a time where there is this discussion about the wage disparity in Hollywood between actors and actresses," Tracy said.

"There's a wage gap in most jobs, in most positions," Mulligan said. "And it's particularly rife in Hollywood, I think. It has been for a long time."

It's no coincidence that her desire to play strong female characters has led to many film projects adapted from classic works of literature.

"I mean, the thing with the literary adaptations, they've just been the roles that have spoken to me, they've been the strongest roles," she said. "There's a reason that great literature is adapted time and time again. It's because it has these brilliant characters."