French model and actress Anaëlle Duguet stops by on Close-up Culture to discuss modelling and her recent role in the short film, Désarticulé.
Q: You play Selva in ‘Désarticulé’. How did you become involved in this project?
A: I remember Romain, the director, was looking for an actress who had a Uma Thurman vibe. I showed my profile to the casting director and he didn’t even try to see me act or anything, he chose me immediately! It was quite surprising that he trusted me so much, but I knew straight away that he believed in me a lot and that we were going to make a very good film.
Q: The film follows Selva as she copes with the trauma of her past. Can you tell us more about this story and why it interested you?
A: Selva, my character, is an adult who is traumatised by a childhood memory. The pain inside her is indescribable and it is for this reason that Romain gave no dialogue to me in this film. The only words spoken – “a-e-i-o-u” – are synonymous with a blockage, these are the last innocent words that my character kept in her.
All the hatred that Selva develops for men is reflected in the multiple visions she has of her father as an adult. At first, she thinks she can see him everywhere so she runs away from him. But that is not enough to completely erase him from her memory so she decides to strangle him. The strangle is presented at the beginning of the film by the small cupboard where, as a child, see witnessed the rape of her mother. It is in this narrow space where she will be alone for the first time, facing the brutality of the world that awaits her.
Q: What was your approach to playing Selva and portraying someone who is haunted by the past?
A: I wanted to play a character who suffers a lot, who is haunted by her past and who cannot move on until she gets rid of her demons. It was not easy at first to capture this, but Romain never hesitated to direct me and tell me what he would like to see for a particular sequence, even if most of the time I had a lot of freedom to act.
You could say that I made a little cake recipe with the different emotions Selva went through!
Q: What was Romain Barreau’s directing style like ? How did he help you in this lead role?
A: Romain gave me a lot of freedom and trusted me completely. It was great working with him, we got along well and he didn’t have to say much for me to know what I should do. Before each scene he briefed me and left me alone – in a corner – so that I could prepare emotionally. Most of the time we were in sync with the rest of the team – and that was great.
Q: I imagine your modelling experience means you have a deep understanding of how to interact with the camera. Did your background in modelling help with your acting in ‘Désarticulé’?
A: Oh no! Completely the opposite! For me, being a model means playing with the camera. As an actress, I no longer have the right to look at the camera, and on top of that I no longer interpret my own role but that of a fiction. You can say that being a model, most of the time, is being beautiful. As an actress, it is no longer a question of being beautiful in the image, but only to interpret a character, live emotions and share them with the audience.
On the other hand, the modelling helped me a lot to be more comfortable during the casting process and on sets with a lot of people who have their eyes fixed on you.
Q: What attracted you to the world of modelling? How did you get into the industry?
A: I never wanted to be a model… I wanted to be graphic designer! It was my agent who found me on Facebook and offered me the opportunity to be a model – if I was interested. At that time I lived in the province and I went up to Paris to meet her… two months later I went around the world as a model.
But still, I love this environment, although difficult, it allows you to meet incredible people, have great experiences and above all else to create images that are always creative.
Q: What is the most exciting part of being a model?
A: To come on a shoot and know what we are going to create that day! And above all else to discover the artists who you will work with. I love meeting new people and sharing different things – it’s vibrant!
Q: And what is the most frustrating?
A: I think it’s hard to grasp the rollercoaster of this job, you know, having a lot of work for a while, then having nothing overnight without knowing why… You also have to manage the money that you earn, because you have no fixed salary… so don’t get too excited when you receive a nice check!
Q: Do you get a different kind of creative satisfaction from acting compared to modelling?
A: I think I would rather create a movie character than just be “Anaëlle” on a modelling shoot. What could be more creative and exciting than finding a complex character, that is full of history, and being able to play it for several days on a set.
Q: Do you plan on doing more acting in the future?
A: My biggest dream is to become an actress. I make short films and I also cast for films. I hope that one day my work will end up paying off. In any case, I enjoy doing what I do and this is the most important thing!
Q: What are your hopes and ambitions for 2020?
A: My biggest wish for 2020 is to find an agent to represent me and to be seen on the big screen! And then upstream, I will continue my acting school in Paris, which is called Pygmalion. I still have a lot to learn and nothing is taken for granted!