Close-up: An Interview with Rosie Fellner

ROSIE FELLNER is an actor and producer. She has starred in films such as The Trip to Italy (2014), 2 Jacks (2012) and Heist (2015).

Prestridge² spoke to Rosie about her latest film Aux, working with Johnny Depp and  joining the circus.

Q: Aux is out now. What character do you play and what can we expect from the film?

A: I PLAY DI Samantha Huntley, a strong woman making her way in a job that is overpopulated with men.

She has had to fight hard for what she wants in life and will not back down because of protocol. She goes with her instinct and says what she means – qualities that I admire and can relate to. The film crosses a few genres: thriller, horror, mystery. It is playful in that sense and was fun to make.

Q: You have worked with many seasoned directors in the past. How was your experience working with first time director John Adams and how does it compare?

A: WOW, yes, I have been lucky to have worked with some amazing directors. One of my favorites of all time is Michael Winterbottom – his style of directing is so liberating. Most of the dialogue is improvised and he is hands on. You feel like he is in the scene with you, but at the same time you are completely free to do whatever you feel.

I really love to work with first time directors. It is so exciting to be part of their vision and bringing their first film to life. John was such a gentleman on set. He is hardworking and has an ease about him that does not hinder his determination and dedication which are so important in independent movie making.

Q: You have worked with the likes of Johnny Depp, Robert De Niro, Heather Graham, Steve Coogan and many others in your diverse career. Are there any of those projects you look back on with distinct pride or fondness?

A: OH, I look back on them all with such fondness. I remember turning up on my first ever job, The Fast Show. I was still at drama school at the time – I arrived at the BBC studios and walked onto the set and there was Jonny Depp just hanging out, chatting with the director who causally introduced us. I was so inexperienced I thought it was all completely normal.

Heather Graham was fun to work with. We shot a movie about the art scene in London (Boogie Woogie) and spent time hanging out and listening to music and laughing. I remember being mesmerized by her skin. In person she is even more beautiful – she glows.

But I have to say the most fun I have ever had on set is with Steve Coogan & Rob Brydon on The Trip To Italy. I spent my time traveling the north coast of Italy with my two favorite comedians. I have never laughed so much in my life – I kept forgetting it was actually a job.


Q: You co-founded Rosebud Pictures with Adrian Victoria. Has your work behind the camera changed the way you approach acting?

A: YES, absolutely. It has taught me so much knowing that the craft behind each department is invaluable and realizing what a small part of the project acting is.

Years of work go into making a movie before the actors are even cast. Yes they are vital and often what gets the movie made, but they are also there for the shortest amount of time. In a strange way knowing that makes me feel less pressured as an actor and able to really enjoy the part I am playing.

Q: What kind of projects are you interested in and are you tempted to get into the director’s chair?

A: [Laughs]. That is funny because people keep asking me that, but I have no designs on it at the moment.

Having worked with such wonderful directors and having been married to such a talented one [Adrian Vitoria, who sadly passed away last year] I have seen at firsthand the drive, work, talent, knowledge and preparation that goes into directing. I would not assume to just jump in without knowing that I am leading my team to greatness.

As to the kind of projects I am interested in, I love great human stories, true stories or stories that inspire and motivate us to be better people and fulfil our potential – in all genres. Although I am not good at watching horror films, I have made a few and even scream at my own scenes.

Q: recently spoke to Krista Kosonen about the lack of women behind the camera in Finnish cinema. Do you see improvements in the British film industry?

A: I THINK it is such an exciting time for women in film. I do see improvements definitely. Many great women and men have pioneered gender equality for years and I am so pleased that we are seeing improvement, but we need to continue as we are still far from equally represented.

I take heart from the great role models around me. My aunt Gaby Dellal is a director and writer who continues to inspire me daily as do so many brilliant women in our industry.

Q: Can you talk about your background and what inspired you to get into acting? If I am right, you joined the circus straight after leaving school?

A: THAT is true. My brothers had a touring circus show called Turbozone – it was circus/performance. I had studied acrobatics as a child and then fell in love with Shakespeare so was well placed to combine the two.

We toured around Europe for a year before I went off to Drama School. I decided to be an actress after joining a drama group and playing Hermia in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I remember being so amazed by the writing – that each speech was filled with so much meaning and could be investigated like a detective novel.

I have always had a curious mind and loved puzzles. When we did A Midsummer Night’s Dream and realised I could translate these words and embody them and perform them to an audience, it was a magical moment. I could not let it go – I had to be an actress.

Q: You were also in Sri Lanka at the time of the devastating 2004 tsunami. Over a decade on, how does the experience effect you? Did you see J.A Bayona’s film The Impossible and were you ever tempted to put your experience to film?

A: YES, my husband and I were in a little beachside village called Hikkaduwa in Sri Lanka. It was basically wiped out as was everyone around us. It was shattering and most definitely a life changing experience. At one point we held hands and said a prayer as we looked out at the ocean and had to accept that this might be the end of our lives.

After going through that experience life looks different. You learn not to sweat the small things as much. It taught me how lucky I am and in a way how to enjoy life more fully.

I did not see The Impossible. I felt I had lived through it and still see it vividly if I close my eyes.

Q: Looking to the future, what are your goals in front of and behind the camera?

A: I WANT to continue to produce and act, further my depth and experience and keep making projects I love. I feel so fortunate to be able to be creative for a living. I have also started to write and I would love to complete a screen play this coming year.

Q: Lastly, do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

A: I AM producing a movie called A New York Story at the beginning of 2018. That is taking a lot of my energy and is something I am really excited about.

I have a couple of movies coming out later in the year, a psychological thriller about sleep paralysis I shot with Olga Kurylenco called Mara and Cruel Peter, an Italian ghost story. And let us not forget Aux.

I also have some projects in development with my production company Rosebud Pictures so I am kept pretty busy.

Photo courtesy of Bryony Shearmur. Click here to visit her website.

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