LOS ANGELES -- Alice Eve knew she would have to face fears to star in the action thriller "The Raven."
To play the love interest for Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack), Eve had to face a dark dread. As part of her character becoming a pawn in a game of detective skills between the writer and a madman using Poe's work to inspire murders, she gets buried alive.
For a majority of the movie, Eve's character is confined to a space so small there's barely room to move her arms. Although a majority of the scenes were shot with the right side of the buried box open, there were several scenes where she was trapped under the earth.
"I had claustrophobia before I did the scene," Eve says. "But, I do believe in facing your fears and taking that on. I think once you face them, they become less because you managed to go through the experience and controlled it. I really enjoyed having that experience because now I'm less claustrophobic."
She talks calmly about the experience now, but the first time she was shut in the box left her in tears. When the lid shut, Eve panicked and took a large breath, which removed a lot of air from the confined space. But, she returned to the box and, with more controlled breathing, was able to make it through all of the scenes.
She's faced fears before. Eve has always loved entertaining but the idea of taking on acting as a career filled her with fear. She faced the anxiety by blending small acting jobs with her university studies. By the time she graduated, Eve had built up a résumé that gave her the confidence to pursue acting as a full-time career.
"The Raven" is the latest work that's turning Eve into an actress for ages.
She caught our attention in 2010 in the modern romance "She's Out of My League." Eve goes back to 1849 for "The Raven," while upcoming roles include a flashback to the '60s in "Men in Black III" and a trip to the future in the next "Star Trek" movie.
All of the work means bouncing between comedies and dramas.
Maybe it's just memories of being buried alive, but Eve says: "It's a much more pleasurable life to make a romantic comedy. Playing a romantic figure in a romantic story makes for a generally happy time. You come away with little damage.
"Playing this kind of stuff definitely scars you."
She can live with the scars because working on "The Raven" left her a little stronger.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, email@example.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.