Actress Eva Johansson stops by on Close-up Culture to talk about her role in Jimmy Olsson’s latest short film, Alive. Johansson plays a disabled woman who yearns for intimacy and is offered help by her assistant Ida (played by Madeleine Martin).
Q: What interested you in ‘Alive’ and taking on the role of Victoria?
A: I think the story is very relevant. It challenges the norms surrounding who we think of as having a sexuality and sexual desires. In Alive, Victoria fights to get her own way despite external resistance and her own nervousness. I like that a lot. Victoria is a former boxer who, after a severe brain haemorrhage from a hard knock to the head, has got aphasia. The biggest challenge when embodying the character was having the words and thoughts in my mind, but not being able to form them with my mouth nor get them out in a natural way. Lots of resistance from both within and without.
Q: Yes, you give a tremendous performance to capture the internal and external struggles of Victoria. I imagine it took a lot of research and effort to fully tap into this character, both physically and emotionally. How did you prepare to embody Victoria? What lengths did you go to?
A: I researched what it means to have an acquired brain injury and watched interviews and videos with people who have been affected by this. Then I examined and imagined this and tried to put myself in their shoes. What severe brain tiredness does to your feelings and thoughts, for example. I set myself the task of being paralyzed in half my body and then tried to do different actions – walking, lying still, moving while lying down, eating, drinking, using the bathroom, answering the phone, watching TV, and so on.
When it came to speaking, I found resistance within me and then I tried different speeds and worked with pauses and examined which words in the script were easier and harder to say. I thought a lot about the pain point in the text, and Victoria and I talked to Jimmy when I needed to. I had a preparation time of five weeks.
Q: That’s an impressive amount of detail to get into for a short film. Would you say this was the most challenging role of your career so far?
A: It’s hard to say. All roles have their own difficulties in different ways. But sure, it was a challenge, definitely.
Q: How did yourself and Madeleine go about capturing the relationship between Victoria and Ida?
A: We met a few times before filming and dug deeper into their relationship by reading the script together and trying out the scenes.
Q: What do you hope audiences takeaway from Victoria and ‘Alive’?
A: Perhaps to recognise their own and other people’s prejudices. To think a little bigger.
Q: And lastly, do you have any other upcoming projects or plans to tell us about?
A: Right now I’m rehearsing a play at the Riksteatern”called The Swedish Son. It’s about being adopted and queer. It opens at the beginning of March.