Features Film

The Close-up Culture 100

LAST month, we reached the landmark of 100 interviews on Close-up Culture. Join us as we revisit each interview and share some of our favourite quotes and memories.


1. Ella Rumpf

Ella is exactly type of exciting and fresh international talent we want to showcase on Close-up Culture. She grabbed my attention in Julia Ducournau’s Raw and gave us the ideal start to our interview series.

My only regret is the interview was done before I saw her magnetic and charismatic performance in Jakob Lass’ Tiger Girl. I think Ella will be one of the biggest stars to come out of Europe in the next few years.

Ella on working with Garance Marillier: ‘Working with Garance was very beautiful. It was very interesting. When we met the first time, there was this unspoken thing that happened – I guess chemistry. She felt like my little sister right away and she took me like her big sister right away. That made it easy for us to believe in each other’s relationship.’

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2. Megan Peta Hill

As soon as the credits starting rolling for Cage Dive, I made contact for an interview with Megan. She is a show-stealing talent who is now doing promising stuff with the Vagrant Players Theatre Society. We hope to have her back on Close-up Culture in the near future.

Megan on the physical challenges of filming Cage Dive: ‘It is probably the most physically demanding role I have ever undertaken. I remember between takes, I would swim over to the side of the boat the crew were on and they would pour hot water down under my wet suit to try and keep me warm.’

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3. Victoire Du Bois

Call Me By Your Name star Victoire on the type of roles she is looking for: ‘I would like to play heroines working with wonderful filmmakers, like the ones I have met so far in my career – brilliant and human.’

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4. Elit Iscan

Turkish actor Elit tells us what she is up to post-Mustang. Check out our recent review of Elit’s short film Dancing Girls and our interview with her Mustang co-star Ilayda Akdogan.

Read the full interview..

ELIT ISCAN / FOTOGRAF MUHSIN AKGUN

5. Stephanie Andujar

Not only did Stephanie give us a wonderful interview, but she was a delight to work with. One of our all-time favourites, Stephanie came back to the site last month to help us kick-off our Best Films Of My Lifetime feature.

Stephanie on her aspirations: ‘I believe we all have dreams that we want to experience and can open doors for one another. If we can learn to love ourselves, each other, we can share that love with the next generation, then we’ve done something right.’

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6. Tina Balthazar

Justice League actor Tina Balthazar talks superheroes and Halloween.

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7. Krista Kosonen

Finnish actor Krista on Blade Runner 2049: ‘I met Denis Villeneuve before the shootings and he is just a sweet guy – super friendly and excited about filmmaking. I was taken by the time he spent talking to me since I know he must have been extremely busy.’

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8. Jessica Messenger

British actor Jessica tell us about her horror fandom.

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9. Rachel Pickup

We discuss Patty Jenkins and Tim Roth with Wonder Woman star Rachel. Funnily enough, our analytics showed that someone recently found this interview by google searching ‘how to pickup women.’

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10. Sophie Tergeist

Sophie spoke to us about short films and critiquing films. She is currently working a film titled ‘DEAR MUM’ with Donovan Swart – check out her diary.

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11. Antonythasan Jesuthasan

As you may have noticed, Antonythasan was our first male interviewee. I felt with two male writers on the site it was important for us to balance that out with more female perspectives in our interviews.

This interview was by no means straightforward. Antonythasan shut down any conversation about Dheepan before we even got warmed up!

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12. Rosie Fellner

Heist actor Rosie talks about working with Johnny Depp and joining the circus.

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13. Lucy Faust

Lucy is another actor who, on top of of giving us fascinating and thoughtful answers, was a pleasure to work with. Be sure to check out Lucy on popular US television show Preacher.

Mudbound star Lucy on working with Dee Rees: ‘Working with a female director on this project was a great experience. I think that women have a unique point of view of the world and I am proud that this film was helmed primarily by women. I do think that we are beginning to move in a direction of more diversity behind the camera. I believe we have quite a long way to go, but projects like this are a wonderful vehicle by which to do so and a strong example to set for the future.

Read the full interview..

14. Emily Lawrence

Voice actor Emily reveals the art behind her audiobook success.

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15. Sofia Olins

Director Sofia gave us a quick chat about her Glastonbury documentary Lost in Vagueness. 

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16. Gian Keys

The Love Witch star Gian tell us about his switch from the US Air Force to acting. Gian has such an incredible story and I believe there is a lot to come from him in-front of the camera.

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17. Kelly Pantaleoni

Kelly on her favourite role: ‘I still really love Catherine in Artful Gambit. She was troubled but had a brilliant mind underneath it all, outsmarting all the people who thought they were playing her. She was clever, calculating and strong. Characteristics you do not get to find often in young female roles.’

18. Barbara Toschi

Brazilian-born director talks about her short film Puzzle

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19. Annelise Hall

Up-and-coming actor Annelise on working in French and her YouTube channel.

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20. Aurelio Laino

Dancing Jellyfish director speaks about his film and the migrant crisis in Europe.

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21. Rabah Nait Oufella

Ella Rumpf’s Raw co-star joins us on the site to talk about a variety of subjects including his rap music past.

Close-up: An Interview with Rabah Nait Oufella

22. Lily Holleman

Actor and producer Lily tell us about her involvement in the LA Breakfast Club.

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23. Oona Airola

The Happiest Day In The Life Of Olli Maki actor Oona chats about her creative upbringing.

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24. Rainer Sarnet

Director Rainer on the actors he used for his film November: ‘I used non-professional actors so their simplicity would be authentic. Their ungainly, helpless and slightly clumsy demeanor fits this film. I did not want their performances to be too advanced or too nuanced. A helpless person seemed more interesting than an actor playing a helpless person.’

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25. Nadja Bobyleva

Camera Obscura and Bridge of Spies were among the topics of conversation as we welcomed highly-regarded German actor Nadja onto the site.

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26. Darya Zhuk

We spoke to Darya a few months before the release of her film Crystal Swan. It is now showing at festivals and receiving tremendous reviews.

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27. Maiken Schmidt

Estonian stage and film actor Maiken, who is part of the brilliant NO99 theatre, talks The End Of The Chain.

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28. Ravshana Kurkova

One of the biggest stars we have interviewed on the site, Russian actor Ravshana gave us lots of time and wonderful answers. This remains one of my favourite interviews. Ravshana is a class act who could end up in Hollywood very soon.

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29. Rea Lest

Our interview with Rea rounded off my dip into the underappreciated realm of Estonian arts. Rea talks Tarantino, Rainer Sarnet and much more.

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30. Nicolas Moreton

Sculptor Nicolas was the first person outside of film industry that we interviewed. His work is currently showing at the Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden.

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31. Yanina Hope

Yanina on working with director Andrey Zvagintsev: ‘By working with him and seeing him work, I realized that all he cares about is to speak the truth about the world that surrounds us – in great detail. He believes that it is his artistic duty and he has this incredible capacity to convince all people on set to deliver.’

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32. Louise Chevillotte

French actors might be my favourite to interview. Louise gave us beautifully articulate insight into Lover For A Day, Philippe Garrel and theatre.

Louise on the power of theatre: ‘The poetic forces of theatre texts give me shivers. I love to work for hours on just one sentence or even one word. When I am exploring like this, I can feel that body and language are working together like a clock mechanism.’

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33. Lukas Feigelfeld

Lukas is an impressive figure. He told us more about his horror film Hagazussa and witches.

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34. Frances Sholto-Douglas

South African actor Frances is another to place in the ‘one to watch’ category. I have high hopes for her and we hope she will be back in the site in the coming months for a feature.

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35. Aia Kruse

Spanish actor Aia speaks about her role in Giant and her ambitions.

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36. Lillian Solange

15:17 Paris star Lillian on the importance of writing in her life: ‘I sometimes feel like the path in my brain from nameless emotion or abstract idea to verbal communication is a long and twisted one. But writing has always offered a direct link between the complexities of my brain and the outside world.’

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Photo Credit: Bjoern Kommerell

37. Tiarnie Coupland

A surprisingly quick interview with young Australian actor Tiarnie.

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38. Amy Annelle

Amy’s song in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri grabbed me both times I went to see the film. The first musician we had on the site, Amy gave us an honest interview talking about her health problems and life on the road.

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39. Jessie Pinnick

After finally getting to see Jessie in Princess Cyd a month or so ago, I can understand why this is one of the most popular interviews on our site. Jessie is an intelligent and thoughtful actor, something that shines through in our talk.

Jessie on the projects that interest her: ‘I want to work with people who are making movies that dare to say something honest – like Princess Cyd. I want to make art that is filled with truth, whether it be ugly or uplifting, and to create characters that are filled with flaws, contradictions, and beauty like the people I know in my life.’

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40. Irina Starshenbaum

Russian star Irina on sci-fi hit Attraction.

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41. Jaren Cerf

American songwriter speaks about her role in Songs Of Granite, which is about the life of singer Joe Heaney.

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42. Ava Paloma

We cover everything from gentrification to Amy Schumer with New York-based actor Ava.

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43. April Mullen

Extremely affable and engaging Badsville director on sex scenes: To generalise, every aspect has to be meticulously plotted – physical movement, camera positions, locations, clothing, lighting and motivation. But then during the shoot it all has to be forgotten. As a director you have to surrender to the moment and be with the actors.’

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44. Jessica Hawkins

To have race-car driver Jessica on Close-up was something completely different. I was interested to find out how a competitor transitions into the non-competitive, team oriented environment of the Fast & Furious Live shows. Jessica was a brilliant interviewee.

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45. Linda Anborg

Swedish actor Linda can be filed in the ‘lovely to work with’ section. We talked The Square, action movies and more.

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46. Jill McAusland

Theatre actor Jill chats about her role in The Moors.

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47. Michelle West

Michelle discusses a range of topics including winning Miss Louisiana 2008 and her busy lifestyle.

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48. Oliver Britten

Jill McAusland’s The Moors co-star joins us on the site.

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49. Gabriella Papadakis

We were incredibly fortunate to get Gabriella so quickly after she won a silver medal at the Winter Olympic Games. The interview was extremely popular and was only helped by her appearance on Dancing On Ice in the same week.

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50. Reshma Gajjar

We spoke to the talented woman who opens Damien Chazelle’s hit musical La La Land.

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51. Neo Caliste

Emerging filmmaker Neo caught my eye on Vimeo.

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52. Sandra Escacena

Young Spanish actor Sandra is another who has a huge chance of being a breakout star in the coming years. Check out her out in horror flick Veronica on Netflix.

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53. Sara Rivero

Our interview with Sara was well worth the two month wait. We talked The Cyclops and playing Jackie Kennedy.

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54. Marysia Nikitiuk

Upfront director Marysia on life in Ukraine: ‘Outside of the big cities, life in Ukraine is far from easy. Racism and other kinds of intolerance are still a reality. Unfortunately, these issues are becoming stronger. The reason for this lies in former Soviet propaganda that perverted human values for decades on all its territories including Ukraine.’

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55. Lily Ji

Pacific Rim: Uprising star Lily on diversity in the film industry: ‘I do hope us Asians have more opportunities in the industry moving forward. It is a start with projects like Mulan and Crazy Rich Asians getting greenlit, so it’s getting better for sure. I hope the studios will create something for us that is just like Black Panther. That is why I want to produce my own projects so that I can create more opportunities for women and Asian actors. Be proactive and positive, you know?’

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56. Jeff Page

A chat with Checkpoint Chana’s Jeff Page.

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58. Joe Benedetto

Writer and director Joe has an infectious passion for his work that shone through in my dealings with him. I am excited to see Tale Of The Wet Dog later this year.

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59. Mina Fujii

Mina is one of the brightest talents in world cinema, so I was taken aback by her honesty and humble approach. This was a real effort to put together and I can only thank the people on her end for their efforts. Our interview with Mina is in my top five favourites.

Mina on insecurities: ‘There were times when I felt a little insecure, especially when I compared myself with other actors, but that made me work much harder. On the other hand, I have also noticed that there are plenty of roles for a normal girl like me, so being ‘average’ is not so bad after all since we are all special in our own way.’

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60. Samantha Robinson

From one of my favourite interviews to another, Samantha is an incredible and fiercely intelligent actor who will go very far. It was a pleasure and an honour to speak with her.

Samantha on working with Anna Biller: ‘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.’

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61. Paulina Janczak

Acclaimed Polish stage actor Paulina on her upbringing and much more.

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62. Shin Morae

Korean artist Shin Morae gives us insight into her vibrant illustrations.

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63. Paula Berwanger

Paula was very generous with her time as we talked about life as an actor in Tokyo.

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64. Natalie Krill

We chat dance and a potential move into directing with Below Her Mouth actor Natalie.

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65. Erica Eden

Aspiring actor Erica gives advice to those making a start in Los Angeles.

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66. Danny Cohen

Australian director Danny on his fantastic music video for Courtney Barnett’s song Need A Little Time: ‘the song has such a soaring, floaty feeling to it and my gut reaction was seeing Courtney floating in space. I decided to play on the meaning of the song, Courtney needs some time away from herself.’

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67. Bailey Skodje

Our youngest interviewee talks about her role on ABC show The Crossing.

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68. Karam Gill

G-Funk director Karam is already working with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. Expect to see a lot more of his name in the next few years.

Karam on storytelling: ‘I love projects that incorporate strong societal commentary but through a pop culture visibility and lens. Pop culture drives a ton of attention to a project and is an amazing avenue to bring forth impactful messaging about the society we live in.’

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69. Bianca Balbuena

Bianca on the role of producer: ‘You get to tell stories with the director to both a local and global audience. You are involved in the creative process and the decision-making. It is like a marriage. I do not see myself directing because there are already too many directors. What we need are producers to push directors forward and protect them.’

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70. Dufour-Lapointe sisters

It was a real challenge to schedule and put together an interview with three Winter Olympic athletes. Easily the most difficult interview we have put together, but still one I am happy with.

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71. Laura Bispuri

Director Laura talks about her film Daughter Of Mine and giving actors freedom on set.

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72. Paula Beer

The German actor joins us for a quick chat about Transit.

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73. John Burr

Muse director John discusses his film inspired by the Gaelic legend of leannan si.

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74. Marilyn Mugot

I was stunned by photographer Marilyn’s work. She told us about her time in China and the international attention her work has garnered.

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75. Louisa Fielden

People You May Know director Louisa joins us to delve deeper into her film.

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76. Bethany Whitmore

Girl Asleep and Mwah star Bethany is an outstanding talent who we are proud to have on the site. Even though she already boasts an impressive filmography, it is exciting to think this young Australian actor still has many years – and big projects – ahead of her.

Bethany on her passion for acting: ‘There has never been a day when I remember waking up and not wanted to be an actor – it has just always been inherently there. That said, the goal is not to become an actor for acting sake, but rather the drive and passion to be able to tell stories that affect, move and teach people about humanity. If you trace storytelling back through history, it has lasted all these years because of its ability to make you feel and learn. I believe it is vital to carry on this tradition. I am not solely pursuing the art of acting, but also scriptwriting and hopefully directing so that I can tell my stories too.

Read the full interview..

77. Anna Bache-Wiig and Siv Rajendram Eliassen

This was a unique double interview with two Scandinavian writers dealing with a gravely serious subject.

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78. Palina La Diva

New York based DJ and actor Palina talks about her lifestyle and ambitions.

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79. Sara Waisglass

We chat Mary Goes Round and screenwriting with promising Canadian actor Sara.

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80. Molly McGlynn

Canadian Director Molly on reactions to her film Mary Goes Round: ‘There have been a few comments from strangers after screenings that have really stuck with me. Recently, an older, very glamorous woman came up to me and said she had been thirty years sober and that her parents were also addicts and that I really captured what that experience was like. A response like that is precisely why I want to make films.’

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81. Carla Langley

Gracie actor Carla on rehearsals and fringe theatre.

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82. Elena Lyadova

McMafia and Andrey Zvyagintsev are on the agenda as we interview this respected Russian actor.

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83. Jennifer Friedman

Jennifer’s art caught my eye during John Burr’s Muse. She is a tremendous talent, a wonderful interviewee and a lovely person to deal with.

Jennifer on painting Elle Evans: ‘She is super easy going and being a model she has a great sense of awareness about her body. She is so versatile. On camera, she can go from elegant to terrifying in the blink of an eye. And in person she is warm, fun and easy to hang out with.’

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84. Brenna Huckaby

Brenna’s story is one of remarkable courage and Hollywood-worthy triumph. Although we did not touch on particularly serious subjects, I am immensely proud to have Brenna on the site.

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85. Eisha Marjara

Canadian filmmaker Eisha on her film Venus.

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86. Kate Hickey

Kate joins us on Close-up Culture to discuss her entertaining and thought-provoking documentary Roller Dreams.

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87. Will Nash

Director Will on his short film Lady.

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88. Amy Doyle

Will’s brilliant lead actor Amy on ladette culture and her background.

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89. Steve Norman

Spandeu Ballet’s Steve Norman provided us one of our most popular interviews to date.

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90. Josh Mills

The Muse producer discusses Kate Mansi and his passion for directing.

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91. Lucy Michelle

London-based artist Lucy tells us about the mathematical process behind her soothing art.

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92. Merra Marie

Aspiring filmmaker Merra was another talent we uncovered on Vimeo.

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93. Malin Barr

Malin on her move to the US and comedy short Hedda Needs Help.

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94. Makenna James

With Harvard on the horizon, talented young actor Makenna tells us about her experience working with Alicia Silverstone.

Makenna on working with Alicia: ‘she is one of the nicest people I have had the fortune of working with. We actually ended up bonding after I had a rough day on set. One of our directors was very technical in their instruction, which I had not been accustomed to, resulting in repeated failure. Alicia came up to me, told me that the process would become routine after a while, not to worry, and to ignore the frustration. She occupies that maternal role very easily.’

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95. Carly Steel

Carly on interviewing Tom Cruise and Hollywood’s biggest stars: ‘I always try to create a relaxed, natural vibe and bring out the most authentic part of the person’s character, and maybe even a side the audience hasn’t seen before.’

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96. Vaishali Sinha

Ask The Sexpert director Vaishali on the battle for sex education across the globe: ‘We definitely need to share more stories with each other. Stories of victories and of struggles make this movement stronger worldwide.’

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97. Zsofia Schweger

Several months in the making, we were delighted to get such a talented and renowned artists on the site. Her work is currently showing at the Royal Academy in the West Sackler Gallery.

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98. Reka Tenki

European Shooting Star Award recipient Reka talks Budapest Noir and bringing out her comedic side.

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99. Savira Windyani

Savira on her experiences acting: ‘It is an amazing rollercoaster ride that goes on inside a theatre filled with strangers that ride along with you. How many careers contact strangers that well in such a short period of time?’

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100. Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying

Another interview that took months together, our 100th interview might be one of the quickest reads.

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Thank you for reading. See you at 200.

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