Rie Rasmussen Interviewed – ANGEL-A

     April 17, 2007

When I did the roundtable interview with Rie Rasmussen not only was I completely enchanted by her beauty, but I was absolutely blown away by the answers she gave to our questions. Unlike most actors or creative types that I get to speak to, she was completely honest and open about any subject we asked.

Some examples:

Don’t you have to be kind of multi lingual as a model?

As a model, no you just have to be really dumb and it works out really well.

What about all the traveling and different people you work with?

No, you know the dumber you are as a model the better you are off because you’re treated so and the people before you have laid the ground work for the fact that if you’re dumb everybody’s going to love you. If you have something to say you might as well walk out because it’s never going to happen. I don’t know if we have my book in here but there a nice little quote that’s been published before because I think people liked it. Photographers who wished they were directors, stylists who wanted to be writers and designers who are failed actors these are a few of the many types of people I’ve inadvertently pissed off in fashion by voicing my creative opinion. Although it was not my intention to intimidate instead of giving an apology I’d like to say fuck you. It was amazing in spite of your insecurities xo xo Rie. That’s how I feel. They’re insecure babies who do something in a medium that’s extremely easy to handle and I think we’ve all had a camera where we know it’s not too difficult. We’ve all put clothes on in the morning and styled ourselves we know it’s not too difficult to have an opinion, but you could make it out like you’re having brain surgery–doing brain surgery and they’re just frustrated people. But as a writer it was an extreme experience to be part of.

Needless to say the rest of the interview is quite interesting. But before getting to the interview you should probably know what she was promoting.

Opening in late May is Angel-A, the new film from Luc Besson. While Luc has produced many things over the last six years, Angel-A marks his return to the director’s chair. And for fans of Luc you’ll be happy to know that his hiatus from directing seems to be over as he’s got a lot that he wants to do. You can read more on that later today when I post my interview with him.

But back to Rie. She plays a mysterious woman in the film, and to know a bit more here is the studio provided synopsis:

A man meets a woman in Paris

Down-on-his-luck petty criminal Andre (Jamel Debbouze) has reached the end of his rope. Irreversibly in debt to a local gangster, with no one to turn to, his only solution is to plunge himself into the Seine. Just as he is perched to do so, a fellow bridge-jumper beats him to the water.

Diving in, he saves Angela (Rie Rasmussen), a beautiful, statuesque and mysterious woman. As they pull themselves out the water, the two form a bond and venture into the streets of Paris determined to get Andre out of the hole he has found himself in.

As Andre will find out, not all debts are financial, and sometimes the solutions to life¹s problems are found in the unlikeliest of places. Is Angela simply repaying Andre for his kindness, or are there other forces at work beyond his comprehension?

As always if you’d like to listen to the audio of this interview click here. It’s an MP3 and easily put on a portable player or you can burn it to a CD and listen in your car.

If you’d like to watch the trailer before reading the interview - click here

Angel-A opens in the end of May.

So how well did you speak French because I thought you that were French?

I’m just good like that. Um, no that was sarcasm. I know you can’t detect that on tape recorders. I didn’t speak French before, no not all. I knew merci beaucoup with a really bad accent but he gave me the script in English and I was working with Eurpoa his company at the time as a writer/director. I’d done my first short film with them and I was working on my feature film script and he gave me this script in English and it was a really fantastic script about love and acceptance of yourself and therefore how you can accept and love others and I saw the whole beautiful commentary on life and I was very, very, very flattered when he said would you please be the actress for me. That one I hadn’t really expected.

But you say it’s in French.

No, but then I once I said yeah, every part of me–the film lover, the film fan, the Besson film, the writer, the director, the actor–every part of me exploded. I was so happy. I said yes, of course I’ll commit myself. He said ok, good because now it’s in French. I guess I’m moving to Paris tomorrow and he said yes and I did.

Don’t you have to be kind of multi lingual as a model?

As a model, no you just have to be really dumb and it works out really well.

What about all the traveling and different people you work with?

No, you know the dumber you are as a model the better you are off because you’re treated so and the people before you have laid the ground work for the fact that if you’re dumb everybody’s going to love you. If you have something to say you might as well walk out because it’s never going to happen. I don’t know if we have my book in here but there a nice little quote that’s been published before because I think people liked it. Photographers who wished they were directors, stylists who wanted to be writers and designers who are failed actors these are a few of the many types of people I’ve inadvertently pissed off in fashion by voicing my creative opinion. Although it was not my intention to intimidate instead of giving an apology I’d like to say fuck you. It was amazing in spite of your insecurities xo xo Rie. That’s how I feel. They’re insecure babies who do something in a medium that’s extremely easy to handle and I think we’ve all had a camera where we know it’s not too difficult. We’ve all put clothes on in the morning and styled ourselves we know it’s not too difficult to have an opinion, but you could make it out like you’re having brain surgery–doing brain surgery and they’re just frustrated people. But as a writer it was an extreme experience to be part of.

Of course filmmakers are totally secure and have complete…

Of course. No, but I feel if you’re a writer/director you have a certain introspective on life and you’re generally more sensitive to humanities and if you start taking yourself too serious you’re going to fail. I think we’ve all been proven that the second we think we’re important, what we write is going to be shit. What we put out in images is going to suck and we get a big smack in the face and we’re back in the humble seat and you’re going to make something good again.

What was the hardest part about making this film?

Learning French.

What about the acting?

Well I think if we’re going to be honest and you obviously know the movie industry and I think if you’ve all told a lie acting may not be that difficult. It’s playtime. We’ve all been kids. We’ve all done it. We’ve all done it for hours at a time. We’ve all been convincing doing it unless we have a tendency to blush. I don’t take it as so difficult. I feel that sometimes Oscars are overrated for actors because you’re saying something that somebody great like Paul Schrader or Robert Towne wrote and you’re being directed how to say it and you’re being stylized and lit while you’re saying it and all of sudden you get an Oscar and I go for what? But no, this is not the case for everybody of course. There are great, great actors out there and but I do think if you have a great actor it goes hand in hand with a great director. You had Humphrey Bogart and John Houston, Marlon Brando and Eli Kazan, Robert DiNero and Martin Scorsese. It really goes—-films are a director’s medium.

After starring in this movie though, do you feel your career may go off on the acting path vs. directing?

God, I hope not. No, I really have fun acting. I’m being too cynical. I have fun acting and I think we all would its real easy. You walk on set, I mean generally, not when you have to learn another language it’s pretty hard but you walk on set, you’re there for 6 or 7 weeks, you do your thing, you have fun, you’re charming and silly, you don’t have to put the equipment in the morning and take it out at night and travel and change locations and set it all up. You don’t have 2 months or 4 months of pre-production. You don’t have the anguish of writing it and being turned down everywhere you go or the anguish of trying to find the money. You don’t have the anguish of having to go through post-production and running out of money and nobody wanting your film after and getting the wrong distribution channels and not being able to be in the right screen in the theater and getting a bad billboard. You’re completely exonerated from any kind of obligations in life. So we all want to be actors of course. It’s easy.

So being in this movie, obviously it’s been well received where ever it’s gone, has that helped you get financing for your own projects?

Yes, it definitely has. It’s aided me immensely. Of course, Luc Besson aided me immensely. I’m a huge fan of his. He’s a master for me, especially because he’s so naive in his approach to filmmaking, and innocent. He made….this is the 2nd film about suicide maybe the 3rd, but he made a film about suicide that brings a smile to everybody’s lips when you talk about The Big Blue and everybody smiles but it’s about a guy who doesn’t fit into the world and he’d rather die than live with the rest of us, but it’s a movie that makes us feel good, and I think you can only do that if you’re almost innocent. He doesn’t feed on the film industry. He’s hardly seen any movies. I can’t reference anything with him. I much more the Quentin Tarantino school of filmmakers. I’ve seen everything, I eat it all, I analyze it, turn it upside down and love it, where it’s completely not the case with Luc. He’d never seen It’s a Wonderful Life. A friend showed it to him after Angel-A because he’d never seen the movie.

What was your relationship like with your co-star because you guys ….the relationship develops a lot over the course of the film. You guys play off each other in a lot of different ways. What was it like working with him?

Jamel is a huge star in France and Morocco. I had no idea who he was, so that was kind of brilliant because I had no idea. I hadn’t seen Amélie at the time either by the way, but he’s a great, great dramatic actor but he just doesn’t know it. It was a really scary challenge for him because I don’t think he really wanted to but he wanted to work with Besson. It’s a big deal for him and how those twp collided–his image which is very like hip hop chic in France and North Africa to this kind of character he’s playing here and Luc kind of directing him is honestly that made him ….you know how he has to be lost in the film, he’s kind of lost the whole time, like fantastically lost and you just want to help him? That charm that he gets through there, he was lost in the production. He was so foreign for anything he’s ever done. Normally, he writes his own dialogue because he’s a standup comedian. He kind of comes on the day and wings it. A little (she makes an inhaling sound) all good and here you know, it’s like we work from 6 to 10 in the morning everybody’s prepared. I had to know my lines my heart because there was another language. We do 17 pages at time in the cafe scene. We just stop, change magazine and you cry you have to cry right there, right then and the scene moves on. We’d do it in one. 9 pages we’d do it in one no matter. There was no ok stop and change the angle. It was theatre basically.

So you had no ad-libbing in this?

No ad-libbing.

No ad-libbing? I thought you could?

Actually the thing is if you listen to it in French, it’s a ping-pong game between us. Basically I might in one interpretation because this is basically an adult fairy tale, in one interpretation I might be part of his soul that lets him love himself. I’m basically–you all saw the film right? I arrive at the point where’s there’s no return for Jamel and he could have invented me to save himself. It could just be a part of him that says “Hey, you’re wonderful, relax.” The part that allows him to be who he is and it’s basically if we accept who we are with all the mistakes and all the bad things we’ve done and we know we’ve done things that we’d rather not put a light on but if we accept who we are with those maybe it’s easier to accept our neighbor with their faults, too. But if we ignore that we have faults and then we do things wrong, we’re never going to accept somebody else because everybody’s going to have faults. So that’s basically the message of the film and as for the charisma, I’m glad it worked.

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The height difference is one of the……

Yeah, he was looking for that.

…although nothing is made of it in the film. What is your height and what is his?

Well, Luc makes of it in his brilliant master Luc Besson shots you know where the comedy is not in the words. The comedy is in that. It’s fantastic. Just as in the black and white. It’s all in contrast. He’s introverted and little and fully clothed and layered.

In that first scene you’re even standing on something and you looked so much…… How tall is he and how tall are you?

I’m not that tall especially for Danish people but I’m 5-10 1/2 but he I don’t know ….he’s very, very small. He’s a surprisingly small person. He doesn’t have his left arm I think it is. No motor functions. He lost it when he was 15 in like an accident with a train. He always has his hand in his pocket if you’d look. I think it’s stunted his growth. He’s a very, very petite man.

Have you stayed friends? This movie was made in 2005.

I wouldn’t even say we were friends when we shot it. We were on set charisma amazing and I had a great time playing on set but we’re extremely different in real life. I come from the other side of the camera and he’s definitely a star. It’s a different sensibility.

He had an ego? Is that what you’re saying?

I’m saying he’s a star and stars are a different thing. It’s when people get used to being a star and they’re being treated like a star. They become something else and I think just because I worked on the other side for so long I have an immense respect for what it takes to make a film and be part of it. That’s also what I strive for. Certain people strive for that lifestyle of being a star and that’s what they want. It’s a different life.

Filming in Paris did you ever have crowds watching him or Luc?

This was brilliant. August, nobody’s in Paris. They’re all in the south of France. So first it was a really genius thing to shoot in August. Second was nobody in Paris wakes up before 10:00 and no store opens before 10. They have a really good kind sensibility with this so the only people we’d run into were Japanese tourists so they don’t know who…they know who Luc Besson is but most of them didn’t recognize him. And they don’t know who Jamel is so we had no crowds. If there was about to be a crowd, we had an amazing decoy which was The DaVinci Code was shooting in Paris at that time, so the people in the morning from the set would call the certain little part of journalist that still were in town working….The DaVinci Code is going to be shooting there and we’d send them all somewhere else and we’d shoot here. It was really well organized. Paris is Luc Besson’s city. He rocks that place. He’s got it down to a T. The man’s been a director for so long and a producer that we shot for 4 hours every day and that was it.

What did you learn from him that you would take back to your work from Luc?

I’ll say mainly what I learned from Besson was when I was a little girl and watched The Big Blue and then when I was 12 or 13 and I watched La Femme Nikita. That’s when he was instrumental in making me the filmmaker I am today or the person I am today. Watching him on set was like, oh of course. He’s been there since he was 17, he’s done every job: 3rd assistant, 2nd assistant, 1st assistant, grip, coffee getter, go to sleep on the set, watch the camera, he’s done everything. Maybe he knows how to do everybody’s job better than them basically. He just delegates with swift authority.

Where are you living now?

New York City. I was 15 when I left Denmark to go to New York City, but nobody was making movies.

And you lived in New York in your teen years then southern California?

Well, this was the thing. I arrived in New York when I was 15 and no matter how responsible you are at 15 and I was very responsible for my own actions and taking the consequences but still it was New York City which is difficult, it’s tempting. There was no film making going on at the time because bad, bad union laws in New York it was impossible to work, so I went to California. But I ended up in Huntington Beach and I just…..

Surfer girl?

One thing led to another and the only thing I was making was high-eight skateboard videos. People setting themselves on fire and stuff like this so it was a strange….well, I guess Spike Jones came from that, but not quite as inventive as his. It was learning.

Were you a smoker before doing the movie?

No, no and I’m not. It’s a horrible, horrible filthy habit and you can see your immune system breaks down, your skin dries out and it’s horrible for you.

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