We are proud to kick-off our 2019 by speaking to one of Europe’s most exciting young talents.
Emma Marott is a Danish actress who has appeared in TV shows such as Rita, The Rain, and Pros and Cons. Currently working on new projects and studying psychology at the University of Copenhagen, Emma took time out of her busy schedule to speak with Close-up Culture’s James Prestridge.
Q: You started acting at 8 years old with a role in short film ‘The Ears of Lauritz’. What led you to acting at such a young age and what memories do you have of working on that first project?
A: I have always been fond of performing. I was in all sorts of plays at school and set up performances for my parents in our garden when I was little. Then one day my mom asked if I wanted to go to this casting that she had come across and I said ‘yes’ because it sounded like a lot of fun.
I got the part in The Ears of Lauritz and it was honestly love at first sight. I was the only child on set, so everyone took good care of me and it just felt natural to be in front of the camera. It is funny because I was shy as a child, but as soon as I got in front of the camera I forgot about it and I enjoyed every second of filming.
I do not know if I knew at that time that I wanted to become an actress, but I was captivated by the film industry and my love for telling stories and portraying characters blossomed after this first experience.
I did not feel pressured or thrown into a world of – and for – adults as I have heard other child actors say. I was a mature child so I was quite sure of myself in many ways from an early age. I also had a great safety net in the form of my parents who made sure I stayed grounded and had other interests besides acting.
Q: You continued to act through your teens, most notably with roles in Danish TV series ‘Rita’ and ‘Juleønsket’. How did you find the experience of working on TV? What did you learn from this time?
A: It is great working on TV because the periods of filming are often longer compared to filming a movie. You really get to work on – and develop – your character. I am interested in personas and characters so it was wonderful to be able to spend so much time with my characters and really ‘get to know them’.
You also get to bond more with everyone on set – both the people in front of and behind the camera – when filming for several months because you spend so many hours every day with them. Sometimes it feels like you spend more time with people on set than with your own family.
I always get along really well with the costume and make-up departments because those are the ones you, as an actor, typically sit with all morning getting ready for the day.
It is nice becoming familiar with everyone on set – whether it is the stylist, the director or the person who manages the lights. The film industry is small in Denmark, so you will most likely see them again on another production.
The only downside to working on TV is that the deadline is often strict. So it can sometimes feel a bit rushed and I have at times felt like I did not get to perform as well as I would like to because we had to move on to the next scene. But I am also a perfectionist, so I am never fully satisfied, but I have a lot of faith in directors and trust that they will be pleased with the scene before we move on to the next one.
Q: You mentioned earlier that your parents made sure you had other interests besides acting. How did you find the challenge of balancing acting with school and other interests?
A: It was a bit challenging to balance acting with school and my other interests. I am quite competitive and a perfectionist so I am always trying to do my absolute best with everything I am engaged in which is not always possible.
I was engaged in quite a few things when I was filming Rita and Juleønsket so it was a bit difficult to keep up with everything. But I knew that to maintain all my interests – especially acting – I had to work a little harder.
So, every time we had a break during filming I sat in my dressing room and did my school assignments and made sure I did not fall behind on anything. Then when I was on my way back home from filming I would memorise my lines for the next day so I would have some time for my friends and family when I got home. It was hard, and I was tired at times, but it worked out and it was definitely worth it.
Q: You are now studying psychology at University of Copenhagen. Are you hoping this will give you another layer of understanding when approaching – and portraying – different characters?
A: I have always been interested in learning new things. I think it is important as an actor to be curious and to keep gaining experiences and knowledge. If you have experienced many things and have knowledge of different topics, then it is easier to put yourself into a given project. As an actor it is important that you have ‘lived’ in order to portray the lives of others. Additionally, I believe that it makes life more interesting and fun to keep expanding your own horizon.
So I do not see my education in psychology as a plan but as a tool – something that gives me another layer of understanding characters.
I am learning about the human mind and why we think and do the things we do which is helpful as an actor. I am also getting to live a regular life with people who are not in the film industry and who have different ways of looking at things.
I believe it brings something different to my life that I can use when I am acting. Luckily it is a flexible education, so I can put it on pause and take some time off if I have a project that requires me to do so.
Acting is my main priority and if one day I am not able to both study and act then I would choose acting. But for the time being I am just happy that I get to do both things.
Q: ‘Pros and Cons’ gave you the chance to work closely with an experienced actor like Lene Maria Christensen. Who have been some of the biggest influences/role models in your career so far?
A: The biggest role model has been Danish actress Trine Dyrholm. I have followed her career since I was little and I have seen every movie she has featured in. She amazes me with her performances because of her rawness and ability to capture the audience. She is not afraid to be ‘ugly’ and vulnerable. I think this makes her incredibly fierce and brave.
I actually met her a few years ago at a casting and it was wonderful and helpful to work with her because she gives so much of herself when she is acting and she forces her co-actor to do the same which is such a gift. I truly look up to her and I endeavour to be just as brutally honest in my acting as I believe she is.
Q: You had a small role in Netflix series ‘The Rain’. What TV series/film would you love to inject yourself into and why?
A: I am quite open to new experiences, so to be honest I do not have certain series or films I want to inject myself into. I am still young and I would like to explore what is out there and then try to find my way through it all.
Wherever there is an interesting script, character or story is where I would like to be – it does not matter whether it is an indie film, a TV series or a short film. It is important that I feel connected to the work I am doing and the reason why I love acting is because I have a passion for telling stories that I find important, funny or interesting. It is not that I only choose projects that are deep and serious, but more that I feel I have something to contribute.
Q: What has been your favourite role/experience as an actor?
A: My favourite role and experience as an actress has without a doubt Esther Jørgensen in film Pros and Cons. I am so thankful I got to work on this project because it was an amazing experience. I always looked forward to going to work because the people on set were so nice. Everyone became close throughout the seven months we were filming – and I missed them all immensely when we finished.
It was also a gift to work with so many talented people – both in front of and behind the camera. I especially learned a great deal from working with Lene Maria Christensen and Lars Ranthe who played my parents because they have been in the business for a long time. I could ask them about anything I was unsure of.
Furthermore, I got to try many new things as Esther – such as abseiling from a bridge into a small boat which was an incredible experience. I am an active person and I love to challenge myself so to be able to do my own stunts was a lot of fun and definitely something I would like to try again.
Q: You were recently featured as part of the Black Night Shooting Stars in Tallinn. How much fun did you have at the event and how did you enjoy the opportunity to interact with other talented, young European actors?
A: I am so grateful that I got to be featured as part of the Black Nights Shooting Stars in Tallinn a few weeks ago. It was an incredible experience and I got to meet so many interesting people.
It was also an opportunity to explore Tallinn since I had never been there before. Also we had several events and masterclasses where we met agents, directors and casting directors from all over Europe which was lovely.
I have been in the Danish film industry for 12 years, so I would like to challenge myself and maybe try to work internationally and see what that has to offer. So it was helpful to talk to some of the agents and casting directors and get to know the foreign film industry a bit better.
Also, the six of us in the programme became quite close because we got to spend so much time together. It was wonderful to bond with young actors from other countries in Europe and share experiences, insecurities and problems. Especially since the film industry is opening up and it is becoming even more common to work with people from all over the world which I think provides an amazing opportunity to visit new places and to get to know other cultures.
Q: Can you pinpoint an actor and/or director that you dream of working with?
A: Well I would love to work with Trine Dyrholm, but ever since I saw Call Me By Your Name I have been wanting to work with director Luca Guadagnino. I fell in love with the movie and I watched a lot of interviews with the two main actors and Guadagnino. He appears to be such a creative and versatile soul and I think he is a lot of fun to work with.
Besides that, it seems like he gives his actors a lot of freedom which I believe is a helpful and giving part of the process of creating something honest. Even though a director has the great overview and vision, I think that movies are something you create together. Of course the director has the final decision, but sometimes I think it is useful as an actor to be able to say: ‘Hey what if we did it this way?’ or: ‘Perhaps she feels this instead of that’.
Maybe the director agrees, maybe not, but I have learned that you often come up with something better together. It is definitely preferable to an actor not feeling a scene or a director and actor not having the same approach to a given scene.
Q: Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
A: I have a few projects coming up next year which are all under development.
Unfortunately I cannot say much about them. But I am excited about them and getting to explore different characters and stories. I keep on discovering new edges to my persona which is one of the reasons why I love acting as much as I do.
I keep developing personally and learning things I never knew about myself which is therapeutic and an interesting position to be in.
Q: What are your hopes for this year and beyond?
A: I hope this year will be as wonderful and eventful as 2018 has been. I am looking forward to all the new experiences and collaborations to come which will, with a bit of luck, fall into place in the next couple of months.
After the Black Nights Shooting Stars programme, I have been speaking to a few agents in London and Berlin. I aspire to team up with some of them and hopefully I will be able to do some international work as well. If not this year perhaps later in the future.