ONE of the most exciting rising stars showcased at this year’s Raindance Film Festival in London is Russian actor Evgenia Evstigneeva.
Playing the lead role in Lada Chernomashentseva’s debut short film Consequences Of Any Kind, Evgenia shows off her magnetic and versatile on-screen qualities as a young woman who is unsure where she stands with the woman she is attracted to. Close-up Culture’s James Prestridge caught up with the promising young actor to learn more about her background and role in the film.
Q: Consequences of Any Kind will screen at the Raindance Film Festival in London on 30 September and 7 October. How do you feel about your work being seen on the international stage?
A: WHEN we made this film I felt it was an interesting experiment, but I didn’t have any high expectations. So I am quite amazed, surprised and very grateful to receive such recognition!
Q: What can you tell us about your background and what led you to acting?
A: I realised that I wanted to take this path when I was 9 years old.
I was kicked out of my first acting school. Three years later, I got into another school and successfully finished it. I think the actor’s profession requires a high level of awareness. You need to find it in yourself, and then it will start to work out.
Q: I believe this is your first lead role in a film. How did you find the experience of having a central role?
A: IT was awesome! This was an opportunity to think and work in new ways. Before I had only participated in episodic shows and often they are shot in one take – at least in my experience.
This central role required much more work – and I found that exciting! I am always happy to work more.
Q: You play Lena and director Lada Chernomashentseva told me you helped grow the character from what she had written. How did you approach and view the character?
A: I tried to understand the type of conflict my character was engaged in. I didn’t clearly understand her motivations and that’s why I had a lot of questions [for Lada] in order to make suggestions about how this character could be and act. The most valuable thing for me in this film was having a dialogue with the director. She always gave me a chance to do my own double and she always asked for my opinion.
Q: I saw a photoshoot you did with Alexey Plakhotnikov that showed off a James Dean coolness you possess. Was this more vulnerable character of Lena against your usual nature?
A: I tried to make Lena more naive. I talked with Lada about her past – she is from a province and recently moved to Moscow with her brother. She is looking for work while her brother is starting to prepare for university. Their parents have given them money for a flat. Lena feels cool because she lives in the capital and this is like a victory in itself. But soon the reality of her situation will show its teeth.
This isn’t my story at all. So it was difficult for me to understand what I needed to do in the beginning. I had to prepare, but I wanted to try and get under the skin of this character.
I remember the moment when Lada told me about the jogging scene – I said ‘wow’! I brought all the clothes for that freaky sports suit and Lada liked it. I wanted to try something that I hadn’t done yet. I wanted to add a little freak to show the destruction of Lena’s illusions. How do we get fucked when the level of our despair increases? It is a mismatch between reality and expectations.
Q: There is a fascinating undefined relationship between two women at the centre of the film. How do you read the dynamic between Lena and Rita? Was it something you could relate to?
A: RITA wants intimacy and she begins to manipulate. Lena is attracted to her, but she doesn’t understand it. Or, more precisely, she doesn’t want to understand.
Interest/Attraction can appear between any two people and sometimes it can be toxic. Anyone can find themselves in this situation. When people don’t hear each other properly it can lead to conflict. I thought it was interesting to follow how such a conflict can begin to change someone’s personality.
Q: Are there any memories you can share from the shoot? Was it enjoyable?
A: YES, it was a great process.
I don’t know why, but the most memorable moments for me were the ones that aren’t in the film. But, of course, I must mention the scene [the final scene of the film] with the underpants. This detail made me love this story – I’m a fan of unpredictability and wanted to do it as soon as I read it in the script!
Also, when I laughed hysterically at night near the mosque in the centre of the city. Yes, there are many memories. It was a good time.
Q: What do you hope to do in the future and what type of roles interest you?
A: NOW I am very interested in continuing to work in cinema. For me, this is a new experience because before I was mostly doing theatre work. I hope to have a central role in a feature film or in a series – that would be even more interesting. I am super inspired by what HBO and Netflix do! I dream to one day work in their projects.
The most important thing for me is to have work, to have the chance to grow and take on new experiences. I really like roles that show versatility. When you see one girl at first and then later on she turns out to be quite different. Like in Get Out and Gone Girl, for example. These type of characters are my dream. And sometime in the future, I dream of becoming like Robin Wright in House of Cards – she is a delight.