Emmanuelle Chriqui On a New Kind of Romcom
Now at The Royal Cinema, Toronto
Emmanuelle Chriqui is one of the hardest working young actors on the scene today. With more than 66 acting credits and 22 playing herself on TV, this Montreal born beauty is on a roll. Chriqui took a break from the heat of Los Angeles last winter to make the dark romcom Three Night Stand at a ski lodge in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec, her home province. The film opened to acclaim at Slamdance last month. Chriqui plays Robyn, whose former love (Sam Rockwell) suddenly shows up at her lodge for a weekend retreat with his new wife (Meaghan Rath). Over the course of a snowy, blizzard-y weekend in the woods, true feelings are revealed. We spoke with Chriqui .
Emmanuelle ChriquiThree Night Stand is funny, smart and people behave like people. What did you respond to reading the script?
I think it’s a quirky kind of dark but funny story. It wasn’t that traditional thing. It was an interesting piece and I knew I could really have a lot of fun. The tone was sometimes larger than life, but it was always based in reality. I had also known Sam Huntington since we made the film Detroit Rock City years ago. And I thought I'd love to go home to Montreal and shoot in the winter! It was tough. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for fifteen years and honestly I’m embarrassed but I’m that Canadian who never got used to the cold again. Something really does happen, your blood thins and when the wind blows, I really can’t tolerate it.
Three Night Stand
Sue and Carl show up to your ski lodge and there is still heat and the plot rests on Robyn not acting on her feelings.Initially, yes she 100% respects Sue. Everyone was trying to figure out what they felt; they were testing each other. They’re exploring the options “Do I still feel something?” “Is the chemistry still there?” but Robyn totally respected them. But there was a moment of truth. That’s so real in life. We put on facades and when you see an old flame you’d say “Hi, how are you? Everything is great”. But at the moment of truth you would say to that person “I never stopped thinking about you. There was a void in my life when you left”. We’re not used to communicating.
You shot a semi-naked sex scene outdoors in snow. So. How cold was it?That’s funny, it’s a funny story because it was freezing and originally that scene was written to fall into the snow, but it was the snow was wet and heavy and freezing. I was imagining the notion of it, oh God no, there has got to be another way. I pitched doing the scene on the snowmobile and I told Pat Kiely that it would be so much hotter and he was all for it. It did really work in the context of the film and the snowmobile was a little character itself and it made perfect sense.
You’ve had such success so early, which indicates hard work and talent but what set you apart?
I think that it’s absolutely perseverance and there is something to be said for staying really grounded in this business. I think you can go through my resume and ask anybody and they would say that I really enjoyed my work and tried to provide a good experience for everyone involved. The reputation of being cool and not a diva. Over time that goes a long way. I’ve been doing this for a really long time, and still feel I’m just at the tip of the iceberg. Every year there is so much more to do.
You’re an experienced and dedicated actor, but would you like to produce or direct?I dabbled in directing a short for the IFC channel and it was really fun and I had help and guided but I got a taste and I really loved it. This year I’m shooting my second season of Cleaners, the web series on Crackle but I’m also executive producer. So I am dabbling in the other things but ultimately acting is the first and foremost. After a certain amount of time in the business you suddenly recognise your circle is pretty big. Over 20 years I’ve gained some real relationships so it makes sense to be a producer and create your content. It’s fun. When something gets off the ground, it’s really cool.
You got your start in high school. Is that the best way for an aspiring young actor to start?Without a doubt. Oh my God I cannot say it enough I think having theatre training and knowing the history of your craft is showing respect for the craft. It’s like a dancer, there are all kinds of dancers but the ones who are classically trained in ballet there is something extra. There is no snobbery and everyone's experience is different but I’m thankful I started out at such a young age and went to school. There are things I learned I still use. We learned from the greats, we read the Uta Hagen book on acting and Stanislavsky. Everything comes from it. It makes sense.