“She was just an innocent victim and a girl who loved a man, and the man did something terrible.”
Of the four main characters in Killing Kennedy, Marina is probably the least known. How did this affect your portrayal of her?
It was always in the back of my mind that Marina is still alive and, even more so, that her daughters, June and Rachel, are still alive and probably have children of their own. That added a certain amount of pressure to do the role justice and be as accurate as possible. On the flip side, I think the fact that people don’t know a lot about Marina offered me a bit more freedom in my acting choices. I did an immense amount of research but at the end of the day, every scene is an inference of what we think happened in that moment, based on educated deductions.
Talk about the research you did to play Marina.
There isn’t as much information out there on Marina as there is on all the other characters portrayed in this film. There is an amazing book called “Marina and Lee,” which I read before we began shooting, along with watching some YouTube videos of her after her husband’s murder where she speaks in very poor broken English. From all of the things I read about her, she was just an innocent victim and a girl who loved a man, and the man did something terrible. Her question then became, do I stand by my man or do I take care of my children? And that is something that research can’t give you. It is something I got to experience through the filming process.
This is the first role in which you predominantly speak Russian. Talk about what that was like for you.
The Russian-speaking aspect of the role was one of the most challenging things about this project, and why, in many ways, I wanted to do it in the first place. I grew up with Russian in my household, but there are many different slangs and dialects, so I had to do a lot of tedious work. I was very lucky that my mother was able to help me with the entire script. We sat down and analyzed each line and thought about what it would be like to respond in the ’50s, as opposed to now. So yes, while I am fluent, there is a lot of work that went into it. It’s an incredible challenge, but something I am proud of, and I hope my mom will be proud of.
What would you like people to take away from your portrayal of Marina Oswald?
More so than my portrayal of Marina, I hope that people really respond to the facts that we have provided in the story, and the true story that we are telling, and come out with their own opinions. I hope I have honored Marina’s legacy, and I definitely know that at the end of the day, we can all say that we worked very hard and are grateful to be part of the experience.
Would you like to meet her one day?
I think if Marina Oswald would ever request that, it would be something I would love to oblige, but I would never want to put her in a difficult situation.
How did it feel to work on a Ridley Scott project?
Immediately, working on a Ridley Scott project is like the stamp of platinum. You just know that the product is going to be the best that it can possibly be. And the fact that National Geographic Channel has believed in us to tell this story gives it a sense of authenticity that no other network can provide.
Don’t miss the global premiere of Killing Kennedy Sunday, November 10 at 8P!
For more on Marina, watch this behind-the-scenes interview with Michelle Trachtenberg: