There’s going to be a lot more to Mera in Aquaman than you ever imagined from watching Justice League. Below Amber Heard (The Danish Girl, Magic Mike XXL) breaks her silence on her pivotal female lead role in the eagerly awaited DC Entertainment film.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What excited you about this role?
AMBER HEARD: That Mera has her own name. Before I decided to take on this role I read a couple of the comic books and I was struck by how Mera was introduced. She comes into this one scene in the first comic I read where Arthur (Jason Momoa) is attempting to save the town from a flood and she helps him. She has an equal part in saving this village. And these civilians turn to each other and say, “Who is that? Is that Aquawoman?” And she says something to the effect of, “No, I have my own name, my name is Mera.” That resonated with me as somebody who’s always been allergic to being the damsel, the two-dimensional archetype of what women are often limited to in this industry — especially in the superhero world. So when I spoke to [Justice League director Zack Snyder] he got me at “warrior queen.” He said, “You get a sword and a crown” and I’m like, “Okay, you know how to play to your audience.”
She’s a fan favorite for those who’ve read the comics, but for people don’t really know, what can you tell us about her?
She’s a warrior who was raised by the queen of Atlantis before she passed. We meet Mera after the queen has long since left and she’s been raised to take over as queen her whole life. She’s been raised to serve her kingdom and rule over Atlantis with King Orm (Patrick Wilson). She’s very disciplined and almost militaristic. She’s fully dedicated to saving her nation and that serves as an impetus to go to the surface world and elicit help from Arthur who’s the polar opposite of Mera — he lives in the moment, he’s confused about his identity, he lacks the purpose and focus that Mera has, which makes them an unlikely duo. But it’s that disparity that makes a nuanced relationship between them. Where one is strong the other is weak and those differences are a conduit for their bonding.
She also has one unique power in particular, hydrokensis?
So there’s an old-fashioned hierarchy in their society that they rule Atlantis. There are different tribe communities within the social hierarchy. Some of us have certain superpowers and I have hydrokinesis — not just making bubbles.
Ah, yeah, you’re referring to the infamous Justice Leauge chatroom bubble Mera made?
How does the Mera we get to know in Aquaman differ from what we’ve seen so far?
It’s interesting to see how different filmmakers approach the same characters. We got to meet Mera in an introduction and I think Zack’s approach highlighted what you would want to highlight if you were just meeting her as a commanding warrior.
Has her costume changed at all from Justice League?
Justice League highlighted her militaristic side. In Aquaman we have a fuller picture, not just her as Mera of Atlantis but also see her struggle in the surface world in civilian clothes. One of my favorite scenes is her first time on the surface world and she’s forced to dress as a normal human. We wanted to honor the comic books, I wanted to stick with how she’s depicted in the comic books in a superficial way, I wanted to go full comic book as to how she looks, but it’s in the nuance of her personality where I wanted to push the boundaries.
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Director James Wan showed me some footage, and one interesting quality about her is she really seems to dislike the surface world. What’s she got against it?
She has a natural antagonistic view of the surface world which you can understand if you look at the condition of the oceans today, how somebody living in the ocean world would feel that way. We had time to fully flesh out her character. Jason becomes more Atlantean more super and mine becomes more human.
What’s something interesting about working with Jason Momoa that people wouldn’t expect?
He’s exactly like you think Jason would be like but even more so. His heart and his personality is as big as he is. He’s got this booming voice and his sense of humor isn’t satisfied unless he’s making people laugh. I was joking that you always know where Jason is — you hear loud rock and roll, booming voice and people laughing and something breaking or falling. He’d make the worst ninja ever. I got annoyed him because on the set I read books and I’m quiet. He’s allergic to not making people laugh or be keeping people engaged around him all the time. So he started stealing my book so I’d be forced to pay attention to him.
The cast spent many weeks on wires pretending to be underwater as part of the filming, what was that like?
It seems very unnatural at first. It’s like trying to pretend you’re under the ocean in an epic battle to save the world while attached to wires, sopping wet after being hosed down on a cold soundstage for 16 hours a day while holding a plank. it was a fantastic core workout.
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The first trailer for Aquaman will debut during Comic-Con next month while the film will be released Dec. 21.