Close-up: An Interview with Samantha Robinson

SAMANTHA Robinson dazzled audiences last year with her performance as the beguiling Elaine in Anna Biller’s film The Love Witch. Close-up Culture caught up with Samantha to reflect on the film and talk about the future.

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Q: You spent much of your childhood in London. How important were these early years learning to dance and performing in the West End to your development as an actor?

A: THE years in London were integral to my development. London is so rich in culture and the arts. I remember I would take every opportunity to see shows in the West End, often skipping school to do that (my family had a good connection for cheap matinee tickets). It is my training in theatre and my love for it that has shaped the actor I am today.

Q: You gave one of the best and most unique performances of last year in Anna Biller’s film The Love Witch. How do you reflect on the film and do you miss Elaine?

A: THANK you. I am so grateful for the gift of playing Elaine. I could never have anticipated the amazing response to the film. Its fan base continues to grow and I am proud to have been part of something that speaks to so many people.

I do not miss Elaine as she is still present in my life – Valentine’s Day and Halloween especially. It would, however, be a treat to play her again down the road.

Samantha as Elaine in The Love Witch

Q: The collaboration between yourself and Anna was something special – the arthouse equivalent of Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman. What were the main lessons you learnt from working so closely with such a hands-on director like Anna?

A: THE main lesson I learned is to never compromise when it comes to your art. I admire her specificity, imagination and courage. She inspires me to take risks, to stay true to my vision, and not to worry about how others will receive it.

Q: Anna has called you a cinephile who thinks about films expansively – more like director than an actor. Can you tell us about your love of cinema and whether you ever plan on working behind the camera?

A: I WOULD love to call myself a cinephile but there are still so many films I have not seen. I do love films. They excite me, propel me forward and continue to be a source of joy in my life. I do not have any desire to work behind the camera just yet, but who knows what the future will bring?

Image by Lenard Smith

Q: I read Anna say that prior to The Love Witch most of the roles offered to you were primarily focused on nude and sex scenes. How frustrating is this positioning of women and has the acclaim of The Love Witch opened up a more diverse selection of opportunities for you?

A: I find it quite distasteful when I see roles with gratuitous sex scenes to satisfy the male gaze. I have been careful to avoid roles that will not benefit my career. I am still offered roles that might not serve me well and it can be a difficult call to make; the notion of working is always enticing. I have to remind myself to think long term, not short term.

Q: This summer you will film Tale of the Wet Dog with director Joe Benedetto. Can you reveal anything about your character or your hopes for the project?

A: STEFFI, my character, is a complete 180 degree turn from Elaine. She is a free spirit and like most young people in their 20s, still figuring out who she is and what she wants to do with her life.

This piece is more comedic which will be a nice change from the more dramatic roles I am usually drawn to. I am excited to film in New York and to work with Joe.

Q: What kind of projects and roles would interest you in the future? Is there anyone specific you would love to work with?

A: There are lots of people I would love to work with but a few are: Yorgos Lanthimos, David Lynch, Denis Villeneuve, Paul Thomas Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, Edgar Wright – and I would love to work with Anna Biller again. I am in awe of the films these directors make and would be honored to be in their world.

Q: Do you have any other upcoming projects you can tell us about?

A: I HAVE a supporting role in a Blumhouse film about sex cam models that should be coming out soon. I was recently cast in a new Osgood Perkins film called Medusa in which I play twins with stumps for left arms. I am excited about that.

Title image by Neil Krug


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