Before shooting Never Let Me Go, Carey Mulligan had never driven a car. Since she had to get behind the wheel on screen, the Oscar nominee, 25, took some lessons in her native London. Here’s her take on the white-knuckle experience.
I took an intensive course — two weeks, five hours a day, in a manual car. Then I took the test, and within three minutes of leaving the test center, the instructor had to use the emergency break, which means you’ve failed. Then we had to do 40 more minutes of driving around, when I knew that there was no way I could pass. It was fine — I still drove in the film. But I drove an automatic! I was like, What?!
The first scene we shot in the car was with Keira [Knightley]. The whole crew was standing at the other end of this car park. The security gate had to come up, and I had to drive towards the crew and stop. The first time we did it, Keira, bless her, was terrified but trying to be really sweet. So I drove in, the gate came up, and I was muttering under my breath, Uh-uh-uh-uh-uh. I kept going, then stopped and turned the engine off.
The crew started applauding — they knew I’d failed the driving test. But then I leaned forward and hit my head on the steering wheel, and the car horn went off. It was hysterical. I still can’t drive in London, but I finally got my license in L.A. I’ve got an automatic there, and they’re not quite so rigorous in the test. I’ve got it down in Los Angeles!