If seen by the ‘right’ people, Kim Bonifay’s eye-catching and complex lead performance in K-Michel Parandi’s XYZ: From Fire And Dust could easily prove to be a star-making moment.
Kim joins us on Close-up Culture to talk about this challenging role, her interest in femme fatale characters, moving to the US, and much more.
Q: I was fascinated by the world building and visuals of ‘XYZ: From Fire And Dust’. What interested you about this story and K-Michel Parandi’s vision for it?
A: For as long as I can remember the femme fatale roles in the neo-noir genre have fascinated me. Whether Matilda in Leon The Professional, Ava in Ex Machina, or Amy Dunne in Gone Girl these roles have inspired and sparked a fire in me. I’ve also always been someone who obsesses over unanswered questions, which mainly includes the future.
Parandi’s vision of it just clicked with me. All of his predictions make sense. I do love how female-driven his scripts are and how regardless of the situation his main female characters are put through they prevail, and furthermore, rule. I thought it was important to mention because some people assumed the show was doing more of the same thing, same story that has been done and told a million times. Trust me, I know the rest of the story (no, I cannot share) and it is anything but typical.
K’s intention goes way further than the dynamic between humans. It’s about our morals, our selfishness and how blind it makes us, therefore ruining any advances/upgrades around us including new technologies available to us in the future. I mean, who wouldn’t be interested in working on a project like this one?
It truly includes everything you could possibly want. It was an honor for me to work on this, and brings me joy anytime I think of it.
Q: You do an incredible job of playing all four Angels – Z, K, W and Puppy – in the Noo Hive. It was intriguing to watch and I’m excited to see the how they continue to develop. How was your experience playing three characters and what challenges did it present you as an actor?
A: Thank you so much! It was just such a blast. The main reason I fell in love with on-camera acting rather than stage was because of the technical aspect of film, specifically post-production. I grew up with a father who always composed for movies and commercials, so I was introduced to this industry through the technical and post-prod lens.
XYZ really challenged my sense of rhythm and imagination. In the scene where Z, K, and W talk to each other, I had to play each character one by one talking to two empty chairs and listening to their lines through an earbud. It was challenging, but so exciting. The harder the better.
In terms of the characters themselves it was rough. Parandi took some time to complete the project for financial reasons and so each time we would start shooting again a couple months later, my understanding of the characters deepened. They started off as the same character but slowly developed with their own personalities. Parandi and I talked a lot about their intentions and the need for them to be so extreme in their actions.
In an odd way, each of them is a part of me. Z’s sense of power and confrontation is very much something I can connect with. Sometimes my ego can admittedly get the better of me like Z’s does. W’s way to deal with her issues through creation and art is something I do on a daily basis. K’s personality is more practical, she’s great with numbers and kind of the genius of the group.
Q: You are in the thick of the action in this role and even get to fire off a gun. What was the most enjoyable part of playing these characters? Did you have a favorite scene to shoot?
A: I really can’t think of a scene I didn’t enjoy shooting or that didn’t teach me something. I am so lucky to be able to play different characters – it really never got boring. I had a big part on the pre-production side to pick my costumes, makeup and even the wig which was really an amazing process that made me feel more connected to them than ever!
I do have to say, I had to go to a shooting range for the first time in order to learn how to hold a gun and that was quite fun (obviously solely in a safe and controlled environment).
Since I am obsessed with the technicality, I would have to say my two favorite scenes are the one with Puppy (blue wig) at the very beginning fighting with W and the scene where Z, W, and K finish each others sentences.
Q: It appears you are quite the cinephile from looking at your social media. Can you tell us about your passion for cinema and the type of films that excite you?
A: I honestly am not sure how it began. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love watching movies. They were always my escape from the world. Anytime something went wrong I would put a movie on to take my mind off things. It’s also the way I learned a lot of things, I never felt very confident in classrooms but I always listened to movies.
I really can’t say there’s any kind of film that doesn’t excite me. Although I’m not a big fan of the horror genre, I still try to force myself to watch them when I know the experience will be worth it and if I know I’ll learn something from it.
For fun at the end of a long day, I watch movies like Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (which is such a great film especially if you love beautiful scenery) all the way to any film by Wes Anderson, who has been one of my favorite directors for quite a while now. I also try to watch all the classics (specifically French New Wave classics) and try to keep up with the industry today and watch everything in theaters now… How exciting is it that we’ll never run out of movies to watch?!
Q: If you could work with any director and one leading actor – past or present – who would it be and why?
A: That’s such a tough question! There’s so many talented artists out there. Luc Besson, Hitchcock, Tim Burton, Nicolas Winding Refn, Ingmar Bergman or Godard for directors and Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Mahershala Ali, Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Francois Cluzet… So many I really can’t pick.
Q: You were born in France and spent two years living in the Dominican Republic. Can you talk more about your background and how you ended up in the US? I believe you went to three different acting schools for acting and dropped out after 2 1/2 years. How were those experiences and how do you see your development as an actor?
A: I was born and raised in France next to Paris, I then moved to NY for two years. We originally moved here for my father’s music composing business as he was trying to develop a branch of his company in the US.
After two years, we had visa issues and had to move away for a while. We decided to move to the Dominican Republic because we already had a community of family friends there. My second year there was truly, to this day, one of the best years of my life. I grew up quite fast there, the life is very different.
We then moved back to NYC where I finished my high school years and really focused on acting. Monday-Friday would be my regular school, and on weekends I had my acting classes. This led me to audition for Pace University which was actually the only school that accepted me into their acting program but funnily enough the only one I wanted to be a part of since it was for the only Four-Year accredited program focused on on-camera acting.
I dropped out after two and a half years because I felt like I had learned what I needed to and opportunities were already coming my way. I then did a program at the Cours Florent in Paris and have been working ever since! I also signed with my agent in December and have been full-time auditioning.
Q: What do you hope the future holds for you?
A: I just want to be able to do my job well, learn everyday and work with amazing artists. Sounds simple but it will take a while for me to get there but I am ready for any of the challenges, the ups and downs and everything else that comes with it!