Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Interview: Bérénice Marlohe from Valley of the Gods

We had the privilege of having an email discussion with Bérénice Marlohe, who plays Karen in the new movie Valley of the Gods.  She shared some great insights into why she chose this movie, what it was like to physically transform for this role, what types of things she looks fro in the movies she selects, and what similarities two projects she has worked on--Twin Peaks and Valley of the Gods--share.  Please give the review a read and thank you Bérénice for the opportunity to chat!  For more information about Valley of the Gods, check out our review here.

This movie seems to be a little different than some of your previous roles. What drew you to it?

The fact that it is radically different from what we are used to seeing nowadays.  I love old movies, from the 20’s to the 90’s, with Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, technicolor three strip, etc... This one reminded me of the magic that older movies had, while being unique. It seems to me that this movie has “soul.”  Lech Majewski is a poet, a sculptor, a composer, he has a point of view and feeling about creativity.

The originality of the script. Now that I have seen the movie, it felt like an organic creature with a life of its own. A lot is said within the silences, the invisible, for whoever is receptive to those things. The editing is superb, the photography, the fact that it doesn’t follow any formula.

Did you do anything different to prepare for this role versus your previous ones?

It’s always different for each movie or role, since I use a lot of my imagination and I am evolving day after day and the requirements for each role are different. I try to create a different character each time, while staying connected to my own inner life, and not be too focused on technique or stuck on a preconceived idea of what the character “should be.”  Just trying to go with my intuition each time.

Karen (your character) has a tragic backstory in this film, how did you prepare for that?

Sure, but her backstory is common to a lot of people as well. I believe experience and challenges are ultimately a treasure for evolution and growth, granted one is interested in such things. I always had my furry companions in mind to create the feeling of love and the fear of losing it in a plausible way ;).

This movie is set in the Valley of the Gods, a beautiful Utah region. Had you been before? What was it like seeing this for the first time (if this was your first time)?

I didn’t go there but it is incredible from what I have seen. I’ve always been very drawn to deserts. Ever since I was kid. Wild deserted spaces, nature, the majesty and magic of nature in general. Nature makes me feel the timeless dimension of things, like an echo to the earthly paradise.

Your character goes through a physical transformation in the movie, what was that like?

Very fun. I love to play with the physical aspect of the character as well for a movie, and i look forward to transform even more in my future projects.

This movie has such a serious, artistic tone. What was it like to film?

Yes it does. I really love that. To me, movies, like paintings or music, should be the extension of a unique individual that allows himself to follow his intuition, not to copy something else.

It was interesting to film. I sometimes didn’t know where we were headed and that is a wonderful feeling. As long as its “conductor” has a feeling of where he wants to go ...

Any funny moments from filming?

Sometimes we would shoot with green screens that got a lot of us lost. One day Keir Dullea suddenly started walking in an intentionally robotic fashion which had nothing to do with the scene while trying to follow his marks on the floor, it was hilarious.

Any good stories from filming?

A funny anecdote that didn’t happen on set but during the shoot. I had a couple of pigeons—lovers, husband and wife—come into my bedroom at the hotel where we stayed and started nesting in the corner of my hotel room :) I cohabited with them for the whole stay. Very poetic.

What was it like working with director Lech Majewski?

Lovely. Any opportunity to collaborate with those real, rare, artists today with a real vision of art and creativity is a treat.

How about your co-stars? I’m jealous you got to work with Josh Hartnett, Jaime Ray Newman, and John Malkovich!

Haha the cast is great. I worked with Josh and John, wonderful actors but what I respect even more is their career choices. Feels to me like the quality of the movies one chooses to participate in is more important that being seen or pursuing an illusionary fame.  Keir Dullea, what a lovely charismatic gentleman with magically soulful eyes.

I didn’t get to meet the rest of the cast but got to see them on screen, including the scenes in the valley of the gods. Beautiful job they did. Good to see a movie paying tribute to the Indian civilization.

When I saw this movie, I thought that the style had many similarities to David Lynch’s work. You were in new episodes of Twin Peaks, did you also get a similar feel?  If so, was that something that appealed to you about this role?

I didn’t think about that but now that you are saying it, it is certain that Twin Peaks and Valley of the Gods both have in common that they are the products of rich, unique, highly imaginative and elevated minds. The result is that you have in front of you a piece of art that is “alive”, that has to do with the world of dreams too, that is rich and inhabited with more than just what meets the eyes. I remember when I saw the new episodes of Twin Peaks, it was a magical experience as well ... Very contrasted universe one cannot put in any kind of box.

So in a way yes, absolutely. I am looking for those very rare movies that have soul and uniqueness to them.

Thank you so much for your time. What is next for you?

I have a project bound to be filmed in march, that will take place in the 40’s and another one that will be very unique, experimental and poetic as well that is still looking for full financing. The kind of movies I am attracted to usually take more time to be done, which to me is a good sign regarding their quality :)

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