Monday, June 30, 2014

Norway's Silje Salomonsen on It's Only Make-Believe

Silje Salomonsen Stars in the Norwegian Noir Thriller Its Only Make-Believe (Eventyrland)

Silje Salomonsen has worked with her husband filmmaker Arild Ă˜stin Ommundsen many times and they’ve created a simple and effective way to work together.  Ommundsen who writes their screenplays, also directs, and does sound and cinematography. The result is intensely personal films that get under the skin.  It’s Only Make-Believe is especially visceral.   Salomonsen plays Jenny, just released from prison on a murder rap, who wants to change things and lead a better life with her daughter and boyfriend, also a felon.  But things get worse not better when people from her past show up looking to even the score.
Silje Salomonsen
Silje Salomonsen
Monsters and Critics – Jenny’s life is troubled, through others and her own actions.  Did you feel empathy for her when you first read the script or did you wonder about her judgement?
Silje Salomonsen – In my mind Jenny is just a victim of some unfortunate circumstances that get her in jail. Every choice she makes after that is just to be with her daughter or to protect her. Some of her choices might suggest bad judgement to people who lead normal, protected lives, but not to her.  As an actor you always need to understand your characters choices, and I had no problem understanding why Jenny acts the way she does. In my mind she is just a more or less normal woman who gets into some seriously bad situations.
Did you make up a backstory about her to illuminate her behaviour and character?
I saw her as a fun loving girl who was very much in love with her boyfriend. I always thought they broke in to people’s summer cabins during wintertime when no-one was there and stole liquor and chocolate but nothing more serious than that.  In my mind she spent the time in jail thinking about her daughter and looking forward to the next visit from her.  And somewhere in the back of her mind I think she dreamt about being a family.  That longing for a family and a home was really central for me. I also spend a lot of time with women in jail to try to understand how they felt. I found out they were just like every other woman I know, more or less.
What was the tipping point?
To me that’s in the beginning when she kills a man and hurts her boyfriend.  After that it’s all about keeping her head above water.
Jenny is a fierce mother, like a bear and her cub but she’s not allowed to have her. How did express that powerful emotion?
Being a mother of two little girls I had no problems finding that emotion. When it comes to expressing it that’s more complicated. I generally try to hold back and not show too much, and put my trust in the story and the situations to evoke the emotions.
There’s plenty of tough physical work, fighting, kicking, punching and being struck and thrown.  Were you ever hurt, because it looked real.
It was real. The whole process of making that film felt more real than anything I’ve ever done before.  Since I was only one person on the set apart from the actors, as the director did the cinematography and sound it felt very different from a normal movie. The violence was rehearsed and controlled in a way, but I got my fair share of bruises.
It's Only Make Believe
It’s Only Make Believe
The director is your husband in real life and you are in every frame of the film.  How was that?
I’ve worked with him for many years before we got romantically involved. It might have been weird if it had been the other way.  But since our relationship was purely professional for almost a decade it was not very difficult going back to that state of mind. That being said, I might have sensed that he was a little harder on me now that we are married.  I actually advised against casting me for a long time, even suggesting other actresses, but he was very insistent, which I’m grateful for now. The shooting of It’s Only Make Believe is one of those things that I wouldn’t be without.

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