Alice Englert Interview
Alice Englert Interview
Alice Englert, one of the stars of Ginger and Rosa, talked with View’s Matthew Turner about working on the film, developing characters and learning from her co-stars, dancing with Elle Fanning and being part of the director Sally Potter’s precisely-made and well-crafted film.
What attracted you to the film and how did you get involved?

Alice Englert

I read the script about two years ago, and I was immediately attracted to Rosa. At the time there was no specification of who I was meant to audition for, but Rosa terrified me and thus I loved her. For me, Rosa represents everything in a young woman that is dangerous and also sort of on-the-line but very present, very real. What she is and what she does is a fantasy, the fantasies that we have that we never say to anybody, that we never do. And I have a lot of respect for her for actually acting on her desires.

I think that is brave, but not only brave, she really sees the full consequences and the full devastation and joy of desire in her character, in her experience of the film. The consequences and the complications of desire, and that was very attractive to me. She was someone who cared about love.
I was wondering if Sally Potter, the director, had seen you in anything before this?

Alice Englert

I think she had seen me in an audition. She saw me in an audition where I was beating up a police officer. That was the audition she saw me in and thought, 'Shit, this girl could be in 1960s London.' That's what I heard when I first got the script.
What kind of research did you do?

Alice Englert

I always start, I do a basic google, but I hate google for it. So what I did was, I emailed Sally a lot. I got the role maybe six months prior to when we actually started rehearsal. I just wanted to know what music she listened to, I wanted to know whose hair she was trying to style her hair as. What's important to me was not who the character thinks they are, but who the character thinks they want to be. Because I think most people spend their lives wanting something else, especially at this age. I think teenagers spend a lot of time trying to be somebody else, so that was a lot of it to me. I go through references; I like to have the films that the mother would have been watching, what they would have taken her to as a child. That, to me, is always interesting, the stories that she would have grown up with.
Did you watch any of the films?

Alice Englert

Yeah, I did. Sally told me what was around, what she thought. Sally was a wonderful source, very helpful, very into making it personal, making it real and creating this experience. She said something interesting recently at a conference. She said that she wanted to make a period film but she didn't want to shoot it in the way people shoot period films. And that's why chose the wonderful DoP (Director of Photography), Robbie Ryan, who really understood that she just wanted to be in the world, she wanted to just see their world. And I think he really achieves that. That encouraged us, really, to be able to move very freely in the time and the characters.
What's Sally like as a director on set, given what you've just said?

Alice Englert

Very, very particular, in an awe-inspiring kind of way. She's very nuanced. I've always really appreciated that, as I think my mother [Jane Campion] has a similar quality. The positioning of an armchair can make a difference to the feeling, and just where you have your eyes. I liked that. I liked that she paid so much attention that she knew whether or not that would matter. It's incredible, it's like poetry.
Did you pick up any acting tips from your various co-stars?

Alice Englert

I always attempt to steal from the remarkable people I've got the opportunity to work with. I joke about stealing, but kind of not. I just think I'm always learning. I think Annette Bening was wonderful. What Oliver Platt taught me was that you don't need to take a slap to the face to be a real actress. You can fake it, it's alright. Because there's a scene at the end of the film where I got slapped fifty times in the face and I thought, 'I'm going to do it for real!' At the end of the day I literally had, like, a neck problem. He was so sweet, he just put a stop to it and said 'Okay, that's enough. You should fake it this time, guys.'
I've met Alessandro Nivola before, in Edinburgh, and I think he's a fascinating actor. What was it like working with him?

Alice Englert

He was wonderful. I was nervous before we began shooting, to see how he, how Alessandro, who I'd not met yet, would be reacting to the controversy of our relationship. And we met, and he was just the funniest, loveliest man, and from then on we were just mates. And it was all very, very easy.

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Content updated: 24/04/2019 19:19

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