Vinyl’s Juno Temple Discusses Her ‘Feisty’ Breakthrough Performance
Juno Temple talks about transporting herself to the ’70s on Vinyl and her favorite guilty pleasure band from the ’90s.
Juno Temple appears in only a handful of scenes per episode in HBO’s new drama Vinyl, but she leaves a major impression. The 26-year-old British actress, who has appeared in big films like The Dark Knight Rises and Maleficent along with indies like Jill Soloway’s brilliant Afternoon Delight, plays Jamie Vine, the “sandwich girl” at American Century Records who makes a play at becoming an A&R rep after discovering a punk band called the Nasty Bits.
In this Sunday’s episode, titled “He in Racist Fire”—an anagram for the name of lead character Richie Finestra (Bobby Cannavale)—Jamie finally makes some modest progress when she is invited to join a meeting to discuss the band’s future. But it’s a short-lived victory: we learn that not only has she been replaced as the designated lunch courier, but she will also not be joining the A&R team—at least for now.
The Daily Beast called up Temple to discuss her character’s fight against institutional sexism, her father Julian Temple’s legendary short films starring the Sex Pistols, and, perhaps most importantly, her love of the late ’90s band the Bloodhound Gang, best known for their song “The Bad Touch.” (If the song title’s not ringing a bell, perhaps you remember the refrain: “You and me baby ain’t nothin’ but mammals, so let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.”)
Below is an edited and condensed version of our conversation.
How did you first get involved with Vinyl?
It’s a very classic tale of being sent the script and absolutely loving it...and auditioning for it then auditioning for Marty [executive producer Martin Scorsese] and then getting it. When you get told at 24 that you’re going to go audition for Martin Scorsese, you’re like, “Wow, OK, that’s going to be a day to remember.”
And then of course Scorsese directed the pilot. What was that experience like for you?
Explosive, to be honest with you, because he’s got so much energy. He’s got more energy than 10 10-year-olds and he’s so passionate about what he does. He so loves film and music, so [with] this project, it was like every single angle of it seemed to excite him. It was pretty unreal. I had an amazing experience.
In this week’s episode, your character Jamie finally gets a seat at the table with the men who run the label, but then we find out she isn’t getting a promotion or a raise.
I know! [Growls angrily.]
Has the sexism she faces been frustrating for you?
Not as an actor, because that’s part of the reason why I love Jamie so much. [The sexism] is not a reason for her to shut up. She’s going to keep fighting until she does get what she wants. And obviously she’s in an incredibly male-oriented world, but I really think she’s going to make her mark in it. She doesn’t get the promotion at that moment, but she knows she’s upped a little bit because the band’s on her team and the band’s where it’s at. She’s found this band that’s pretty much at the birth of punk rock. So, as an actress it’s not frustrating, it’s actually quite interesting. You do approach it with a sort of extra fire as a young woman in that universe. You’re like, ‘Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.’ She’s feisty.
We also learn a bit more about what Jamie is rebelling against. How has her backstory informed your performance so far?
It’s amazing, this is the first time I’ve ever been part of a TV show and I didn’t know what happened to my character until we did the read-through for each episode. So you’re learning as you go. It’s the most real-time form of acting I’ve ever experienced. I was dumbfounded when a character would come in and I’d be like, “Whoa, she’s from that? Wait a minute. Excuse me?” So that’s another great thing about TV, you learn more about each character with each episode and by the end of it, you get a way bigger understanding. The fact that we got picked up for a Season Two is so exciting because it means you get to go on that journey even longer. But yeah, it all starts coming together like this massive jigsaw puzzle of madness.
Your character essentially helps bring punk music to the mainstream. What is the first music you can remember feeling that passionate about?
I must have been about 11 or 12 and I really fell in love with the Bloodhound Gang. I thought they were the coolest band in the entire world. [Laughs.] And I remember having a devastatingly embarrassing moment because I thought I was so cool listening to the Bloodhound Gang and my mum picked up the album cover, Hooray for Boobies, and was like, “What is this?!” And I was like, “Mum, they actually happen to be a really cool band called the Bloodhound Gang.” And she was like, “Why isn’t there an all-girl band with an album called ‘Whoopee for Willies’?” And I remember being so embarrassed. I was in a car with all my 11-year-old friends from school and I was like, “Mummy! No, you cannot say things like that!” But I was very passionate about the Bloodhound Gang, very passionate.
The 1970s setting of the show is obviously before your time. What is your relationship like now to the music of that era?
I’m a huge ’70s music fan. I always have been, from pretty much the moment I popped out into the universe. Because my parents, especially my dad, listened to so much ’70s punk and rock ’n’ roll music. Still to this day, I have a huge vinyl collection. I listen to a lot of Iggy Pop, a lot of [David] Bowie, a lot of Blondie, the Modern Lovers. Howlin’ Wolf is one of my favorite artists of all time. What is so cool is that you listen to Howlin’ Wolf and then you listen to the Rolling Stones and you totally see the inspiration. And I think listening to vinyl is really the way to listen to music. It affects your body in a different way. Your body listens to the record, not just your ears.
And your father worked with the Sex Pistols, right?
He sure did. So I definitely grew up with some “God Save the Queen” being played.
Have you consulted with him at all for inspiration for Vinyl?
Yeah, I have. I’ve asked him so many questions. And I actually brought him as my date to the premiere, and I’ve got to say, I was pretty nervous. And he loved it so much. It was one of those moments where I’ve never been so happy to see him so thoroughly enjoy something that I was in, because it is so what he loves. He loved being young in the ’70s and the kind of revolution that developed through punk rock. He’s so passionate about that time.
Jamie has been called the Peggy Olson of Vinyl. What do you make of the Mad Men comparisons?
You know what, I haven’t actually seen that show, but I must now, because quite a few people have said that to me. And as far as I’ve been told, that’s a huge compliment so I’ve definitely got to check that out.
The characters’ racism and sexism is all very out in the open on the show. Do you think things are really much better in the entertainment industry today or are people just more politically correct in public?
Yeah, I still think it’s a huge problem. You’ve got actresses speaking out about wanting equal pay, it’s like, “Fuck yeah, absolutely that should be the case.” And the fact that we still have issues with racism and it’s 2016? And people not being OK with the idea of gay marriage? That’s insane. And hopefully, what’s going to happen is that gets demolished, because we should be more worried about just being good humans.
Tell me about working with James Jagger, who just happens to be the son of Mick Jagger. You two have a lot of scandalous scenes together.
[Laughs.] Ah, yeah, he’s fantastic. I absolutely adore him. It’s funny, because we actually had a bunch of mutual friends in England but we’d never crossed paths before. So it was nice, because it almost felt like we were meant to know each other, so thank God this brought us into each other’s universes. He’s quickly become a new dear, dear friend in my life and I love working with him. And I think his acting as a punk scallywag is really on point. We had a lot of fun together. And it’s nice to spend that much time with someone and really develop a character relationship with that person. You hope when it comes out that people root for our relationship. I hope people are like, “Yeah, cool couple.”
We’ve also seen some possible foreshadowing with his character’s heroin use. The excessive, casual drug use feels very much of its time and so different from what we see now.
It definitely shows the casual side, like lifting up your coffee mug [in the office] and there’s a little baggy of cocaine. But it does also show how much it fucks you up. It does not shy away from Richie Finestra becoming a manic monster at times. Obviously as the show continues, you’ll see what happens with [Jagger’s character] Kip and his drug use. That’s what I like about the show, it shows how prominent drugs were, but also how completely they change you when you’re on them.
We are now halfway through the show’s first season. What can you share about where things are headed for Jamie?
I don’t know what I’m allowed to say, I don’t want to get in trouble. I would just say watch that space, because it’s quite a journey. And I’m also so excited to see where it goes in Season Two, God knows.
And now that the show has been picked up for a second season, do you have any hopes for what you would like to see Jamie do in the future or where you would like to see the character go?
I hope she just keeps paving the way. I hope she keeps on being as brave and as feisty and as fiery and as ballsy as she is. I really hope she doesn’t get squished in any way, I hope she keeps taking flight.
Before coming aboard Vinyl, Randall Poster served as the music supervisor on all of Wes Anderson’s films, along with projects like Boyhood and Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. Now, Poster and his colleague Meghan Currier have provided The Daily Beast with an exclusive Spotify playlist inspired by Temple’s character Jamie.
"Meghan Currier and I always imagined Jamie to have the best taste of all the American Century A&R people,” Poster told The Daily Beast in an email. “Her feel for the underground and unpolluted emotion drove this collection of songs.” He then added, “Juno too is the coolest, so we wanted to share something we thought she’d enjoy.”