Ladies of La La Land
Kildare-born identical twins, Christine and Elizabeth Mulhern, have their sights set on Hollywood and their ambitions set on seeing their names in lights. They talk life and love in LA, as Christine tells Barry Egan how she didn't let a love affair with Russell Brand break her heart, and Elizabeth explains how she's often mistaken for Megan Fox. Photography by Kip Carroll
The Mulhern twins from Kildare act like whimsically-demure Hollywood B-movie starlets from the 1950s.
Certainly, from another era very different from this one. They exhibit the traits of traditional, old-school femininity. They ramp up the naivete when it suits them – which is nearly always. They giggle and shoot each other looks with private meanings constantly throughout the two hours spent with them in The Liz Taylor suite in the Gresham Hotel in Dublin. They both want to be the centre of attention. It's like being in the same room with Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in 1952.
Ever since they were little girls, Christine and Elizabeth, now 27, dreamed of becoming movie stars and having their names in Broadway lights, 50-foot high.
Elizabeth, the Dita Von Teese brunette, appears the more grounded of the two, despite describing herself in the mould of a "Pocahontas, moon child, hippie chick. Intuitive . . ."
Ditsy and, dare I say, titsy, Christine, the blonde sister, has that cooing LA bimbette schtick down so perfectly that you have to continually remind yourself that she is, in fact, from Kildare. And that she and her identical twin have been back living with their parents in Kildare "for a bit".
"We have picked up a twang naturally over there," Christine says, referring to the accent they have picked up while living in West Hollywood in La La Land for six years, before coming home recently. Next month, they are jetting back to LA for the foreseeable future. When asked if they have lots of movie stars and Beverly Hills players throwing their digits at them, they both giggle. Christine turns sphinx-like for about the hundredth time in the last 10 minutes. Inscrutable is not the word. Irritating is.
Christine and Elizabeth
"Well . . . a few celebrities have pursued me," Christine giggles. "I have been pursued by . . ." She then stops and giggles, and looks at her nails, and mumbles something. "Pursued, oh . . ."
I say she has said that three times already.
Elizabeth: "Can you just say it? You are seriously so annoying right now!"
Christine: "OK, Russell Brand! He's actually hilarious, really funny. His eyes are always on."
So how come it didn't develop?
"Because he obviously doesn't want to settle down! It just fizzled."
Was there any spark?
"For a minute," she giggles.
She is more LA than Paris Hilton. You couldn't make her up.
"My character in the film is called Plenty," blonde Christine says of the new Bond spoof, SpyFail, without any discernible irony.
I am not sure whether Christine – or, indeed, her plentiness – are for real. "All natural. It must be the Irish water," she clarifies in that cutesie boop-oop-a-doop, faux-Marilyn Monroe voice of hers.
And that is not a lie?
"No! I'm the most honest person alive."
Given you are the most honest person alive, what was the lowest point in your life? Not getting married to Russell Brand?
"No. No. He would never break my heart! But that would have been cool at the same time," Christine giggles.
Christine: 'I have been prusued by...'
How long were you dating him for?
"Oh," huffs Christine, reflecting on Russell. "Not long. Not long at all. Men don't believe in relationships in LA . . ."
The twins were born on July 21, 1986, in Dublin. "Elizabeth was born first – she is four-and-a-half minutes older than me," Christine says, adding that she doesn't want to reveal the hospital in Dublin that she and her sister were born in to "protect the privacy" of their mother. I feel Christine sometimes thinks she's Angelina Jolie.
I ask Christine to describe her brunette sister Elizabeth and her personality.
"She's the funniest person I know. She lights up the room when she enters. She's a bit of a diva and usually gets what she wants. She's very charming, she can be shy and a bit ditzy at times. She's a beautiful person inside and out – she's very caring and sensitive. She's my favourite person in the world."
Elizabeth: "Christine is very ladylike and elegant; old Hollywood, like Marilyn Monroe, hilarious, bubbly, very positive and spiritual. She's my soul mate. I'd be lost without her."
They went to St Mary's College in Dublin, and then on to a stint in Trinity College to study languages: Elizabeth did German and Italian; Christine, German and Spanish. Their hearts clearly weren't in it. The dream was always to go to Hollywood to become stars. In 2005, they went to a performing arts school in LA and made their home, and their careers, there.
Elizabeth is often mistaken for Megan Fox
To their credit, the girls have hardly been anonymous since they made the big move to Amerikay. Elizabeth was in the HBO series, Luck, with Dustin Hoffman, a few years ago, and she played a French maid in Delicate Playthings in 2012, Lady Churchill in The Mayan Prophecy in 2012 and, of course, uber-Bond girl, Vespa, in SpyFail later this year. Her sis was, among other roles, a radium co-worker in 1000 Ways to Die in 2009, Lady Annabel in The Mayan Prophecy the same year, Barbie in I'm Not Like That Anymore in 2010 and, lest we forget, Plenty in the forthcoming SkyFail.
"We met the director of SpyFail in Cannes last year," Christine says, referring to Paul Wiffen. "A friend introduced us. He was looking for glamorous Bond girls, and we fitted the part!" laughs Elizabeth.
Can you kill baddies with your thighs?
"With our spike heels!" smiles Christine.
"We have a background in gymnastics as well. So, we can do high kicks," adds Elizabeth.
"We filmed over the summer in Venice, London and Southampton. It should be out in September. It is very comedic! I play the villain," says Elizabeth.
"And I am Plenty!" chimes in Christine.
Presumably, Plenty is a reference to a certain part of your body?
"Probably!" roars Christine.
And what does Vespa mean in reference to your character, Elizabeth?
"Fast and dangerous!"
And are you?
"No, actually. I'm slow and . . ." And funny. Elizabeth says the lowest point in her life was when she realised "Santa wasn't real."
Both Gaiety School of Acting graduates, the two curvaceous, even perky, twins are anything but dull. When I ask them would they snog Bashar Assad if it would stop the war in Syria, they answer thus:
Elizabeth, joking: "Who's Bashar Assad? Is he hot?" Christine: "I believe in peace, so if it would stop a war, I suppose I would consider it."
Would you describe yourselves as feminists?
Elizabeth: "No! I'm just a country gal lookin' for my cowboy."
Christine: "No, I'm old fashioned. I like to be wined and dined, and spoiled. But I don't like men who are too controlling."
Their light-blue eyes – that "can be green sometimes" – light up when you ask them a question, and then they laugh like drains for what seems like hours. Christine is infuriatingly secretive about her love life. I was going to say she plays her cards close to her chest, but I don't want to be accused of reductive misogyny – although she does play up to the archetype of the smouldering Monroe blonde bombshell.
"We both adore Marilyn Monroe," Christine says. "She was so funny in Some Like it Hot and Gentleman Prefer Blondes."
And do they? I ask Christine.
"I don't think so," she replies.
You prefer rakes to gentlemen?
"What's a rake?"
A bad boy.
"Oh, probably a rake then!" Christine laughs.
"I prefer gentlemen," says Elizabeth. "I like kindness. I like a good heart."
"So do I," says Christine almost huffily.
But you prefer a bit of a bastard to go with the good heart?
"Not that I prefer, but I tend to attract those kind of men. Don't ask me why!" Christine giggles.
It is nothing to do with the Law of Attraction then, where like attracts like?
"No. Because I wouldn't consider myself a bad girl. I'm an angel. I'm a very kind, sweet person."
I ask Elizabeth if this is an accurate analysis of her blonde sister. "Yes, she is, actually. I would be more the troublemaker than you. I'd be more of a brat. I'd have my little temper tantrums. I can be feisty."
"She is very impatient," says Elizabeth.
Brunette Elizabeth says people sometimes say she looks like Megan Fox and Mila Kunis "probably because of their eyes." Christine gets Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield "because of their figure and style."
"I love reading about Monroe and old movie stars," she says. "I'm fascinated by old Hollywood. I'm very influenced by old Hollywood."
"I think, from a young age, we have always been obsessed with old Hollywood," says Elizabeth. "As far back as Clark Gable and Frank Sinatra. I loved Frank Sinatra."
"Now, he was a total rake!" laughs Christine. "He was in with all the hoodlums. I would have fallen for him!"
For the first half an hour of the interview, Christine appeared principally concerned with saying as little as possible and laughing as much as possible.
She says she is very picky and doesn't see the point in going out with someone unless it is 100 per cent right and she is 100 per cent in love. She adds that wants to meet Mr Right one day, and settle down and be the happy homemaker dressed in an apron, but that she'd rather be on her own than be with Mr Wrong.
You get the impression that going out with can't-get-a-good-man Christine would be hard work – primarily because, like all old-school goddesses, she would expect to be waited on hand and foot by her emotionally maladjusted goddess-worshipper.
She says she is happily single now. When Gloria Steinem coined the phrase, "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle", she was, perhaps, thinking of Christine.
"I believe in love at first sight. I believe that everyone has a soul mate. I believe in destiny. I believe in this ancient Chinese proverb, that there is an invisible red thread that connects us to everyone we meet in life. The thread may tangle or tear, but it never breaks," the blonde Mulhern says. The brunette Mulhern, on the other, well-manicured hand, is willing to discuss the complexities of gender relations, the difficulties of romantic love, and the fact that she recently broke up with her boyfriend of five years in Los Angeles.
Christine: "Her heart is broken."
"I'm still a bit heartbroken," admits Elizabeth. "It is only a few months. Who knows?" she says when I try to soothe her by saying it is more than likely they will get back together.
And if he rang you now?
"If he called me, I'd be running out the door!" laughs Elizabeth. "I'm definitely open to a reconciliation."
What's the longest you have gone out with someone for, Christine?
"Not as long," she says, meaning not as long as Elizabeth's recently concluded five-year relationship in LA.
What does "not as long" actually mean?
"Oh, less than a year."
I'm sensing that less than a year means three months. "No! Longer than three months. Around, like, seven months."
When was that? I'm starting to feel like a guard in Kildare, standing beside a car on a Saturday night with a notebook in my hand.
"A while ago."
Two years? Three years ago? Last year?
"Oh, no! Like, six years ago. Maybe seven years ago."
Elizabeth butts in: "It was so not seven years ago!"
Six years? I now feel exactly like a guard in Kildare on a Saturday night.
"OK, around six years ago," Christine concedes.
So, is it a situation where you find yourself just constantly dating? "Not at all," Christine says. "I don't want to settle. There have been romances in the last six years, yes, but nothing lasted."
And why didn't it last?
"Because I go for the rakes!" she laughs. "That's probably why."
When was the last time you cried, and why?
"When my cat, Pinky, died," Christine says. "I'm an animal-lover, I get very attached, and considered Pinky as part of the family. I humanise animals, so I was heartbroken when she died. She had a pink nose. It was very traumatic."
How are your personalities different?
"You're really indecisive," Elizabeth says to her sister.
Christine gives her what can only be called a "look".
"You're the most indecisive person I've ever met in my life," reiterates Elizabeth gleefully.
Hence the lack of relationships in the last six years?
"Exactly! Exactly!" concurs Elizabeth. "She can't make up her mind what she wants."
I ask Christine what she wants.
"Do you even know what you want?" laughs Elizabeth.
"I want love," smiles Christine.
Somehow, I can't see her finding it in La La Land, where the men are officially vainer than the women.
"In LA," says Christine, "I don't think the men are thinking about anyone but themselves."
"Irish guys want someone to take home to their mammy," says Elizabeth.
"Men in LA like to play the field," says Christine, "but then you'll meet the odd nice one."
"I've met a few," Christine adds, almost wistfully – meaning a variety of nice ones who have, nonetheless, never developed into The One.
But you haven't kept any. Or they decided not to keep you? Which is it?
"You're very fussy," says Elizabeth.
"I guess I haven't met The One," says Christine. "I'm searching for The One, but I would rather be alone than be with the wrong guy."
Do you ever get depressed?
"Yeah. I guess I would think about the future and get kind of freaked out sometimes about life. It can be scary."
That you know you are going to die, but you don't know when?
"Yeah, I think that is petrifying," Christine says. "That is a huge fear of mine."
I ask them who are the five sexiest Irish men on the planet.
1. Gabriel Byrne.
2. Cillian Murphy.
3. Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
4. Colin Farrell.
5. Chris O'Dowd.
1. Gabriel Byrne.
2. Pierce Brosnan.
4. Colin Farrell.
5. Cillian Murphy.
Memo to a certain attractive Irish movie star in Hollywood: watch out, Colin Farrell, – the Mulhern twins from Kildare are coming to get you!
Cari's Closet, 11 New St, Malahide, Co Dublin, tel: (01) 845-7593
Coco Boutique, 40 Clarendon St, D2, tel: (01) 899-4300
Shot in the Elizabeth Taylor Suite, Gresham Hotel, 23 Upper O'Connell St, D1, tel: (01) 874-6881, or see www.gresham-hotels-dublin.com
Treat yourself to two nights' accommodation in a standard double or twin room in Dublin's Gresham Hotel, with a full buffet breakfast in the Gallery Restaurant, as well as one afternoon tea for two people, for €138 per person sharing
Photography by Kip Carroll; assisted by Michael McDonald
Styling by Liadan Hynes
Assisted by Chloe Brennan
Hair by Paul Davey; assisted by Emma Doran, both for DaveyDavey, 23 Drury St, D2, tel: (01) 611-1400
Make-up by Paula Callan; assisted by Emily O'Connor, for both, see www.callanberry.com
LIFE Magazine, Sunday Independent
Sunday Indo Life Magazine