“Hollywood is quite a traumatic experience”

Luxembourg is too small a country for big dreams. That’s what Vicky Krieps (37 years old) always says from her native country. There she grew up going to theater classes in which she never played the princess, only supporting roles, in the background, a tree, a child without dialogue. She dreamed of being an actress, but was certain that it was too big a dream for such a small place. Precisely because of that narrow horizon, Krieps left early. First, where she could go further, geographically and culturally: on a trip from South Africa to Mozambique she found the strength to seriously decide that she wanted to be an actress and returned to Europe. She studied in Zurich, in Berlin – where she has already settled and still lives with her husband and two children – and in London.

It began in theater, continued in cinema, on television and throughout Europe. He speaks English, French, German. She was making some leap to the United States, but it was in 2017 when her career exploded without her looking for it or waiting for it. Paul Thomas Anderson chose her as Soul, the muse, bane and obsession of his fashion designer in the subtle and sublime The invisible thread. Krieps faced Daniel Day-Lewis on screen, almost literally, and not only was he at his height, he was the big star of the film. The discovery. Between the end of 2017 and the Oscars of 2018, Vicky Krieps got on the Hollywood machine, accepted all the obligations that came with such a production, but as soon as it was all over, she got off that “celebrity culture” and became to Berlin, to his family, to a more accessible European industry. Now, in 2021, it releases a good handful of films, Weather, M. Night Shyamalan (theatrical release July 30); Beckett, The Survivor… Only at the recent Cannes Film Festival did he star Bergman Island, by Mia Hansen-Løve; and Hold Me Tight, by Mathieu Amalric. «I am usually a very shy person. And I still don’t feel comfortable with this part of my job, promoting, talking about myself, it scares me … », she begins. But in this case, I am happy to be able to celebrate cinema again. I just want people to see my movies, to go to the movies.

In ‘Tiempo’ Krieps works with Gael García Bernal. Photo: 2021 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS

Almost all of his new films are smaller European productions, less Weather. What did you like about the script?
I have not seen it yet, I do not know how scary it will be in the end, but I imagine it. Although for me the most important thing is that it speaks of the deepest meaning of life, and is linked to my other two films, Bergman Island and Hold Me Tight. It’s a coincidence, but the three of them reflect on the idea of ​​reality: what is real, what is my reality, who am I as a woman, as a wife, as a person in society … Time is a big theme in the film, obviously. Is named Weather [en inglés Old] and it is a horror movie, of course, right? I hope that when you leave the cinema you ask yourself why we are afraid of growing old, why we flee from the only certainty of this life: that it is over. We just don’t know when.

As an actress, is aging scarier?
Maybe I’m stubborn, I think I am, I try not to obsess, I try not to be afraid of getting old, I want to enjoy it, and the only weapon I have found to do it, I know it sounds very cliché, is to be present. Be here and now. If I succeed, nothing scares me and then getting old becomes just living and I can enjoy my birthday. It is wonderful to see your partner grow old, grow old together, watch your children grow… Everything is part of the circle of life. And that the film is set on a beach is not accidental, the beach reminds you of the coming and going of the tides, the rhythm of this planet that is very different from the time our clocks tick because that is only a convention, but nobody knows what is time really.

Speaking of time … the success of The invisible thread Does it seem too far away to you?
On the one hand, it seems like it was yesterday because it was completely different from the experiences I had had. And maybe because I learned so much, I feel like I was a different person on that set, I was a baby [se ríe] and it seems very far away.

Everybody told him that The invisible thread He was going to change his career, but he fled Hollywood and went back to Berlin. Why?
I did not go to Hollywood because I think I was not prepared personally. It wasn’t that I thought I couldn’t work there, but personally I needed to be me again, to understand where I came from … When you come from a country as small as Luxembourg, suddenly you make this great movie, you go to Hollywood, the Oscars, all that attention It is quite a traumatic experience, really, because nothing prepares you for that. I think that’s why I needed this time, to take some distance and be myself, perhaps I was afraid of losing myself in that world. I don’t know if it was the right step or not, but I didn’t miss it. And if that was my goal, I have achieved it. For the first time I had to stop to make a plan.

That would mean saying no many times, having to mark red lines.
I remember after Paul Thomas Anderson I was very aware that I had probably worked with the best director you can work with today. What could I do then? The only thing that was clear to me is that I thought that if I could choose, I wanted to make French cinema. And it was magical, because I didn’t show up there: “Hello, people, here I am ». I started getting scripts, they were all wonderful, and I started working in France. I guess a movie like The invisible thread and, above all, a character like Alma draws the attention of directors like Mia Hansen-Løve or Mathieu Amalric. And I do not regret it at all. The two films that I have presented at Cannes are two masterpieces ‘made by hand’. Although Weather Also, I feel very fortunate to be able to choose and be able to bet on this type of project.

Vicky Krieps

Her character of Alma in ‘The invisible thread’ gave her visibility in Hollywood. Photo: Cordon Press

Vicky Krieps is on the phone, just landed… in Luxembourg. «I have returned home, but only a few weeks to resume filming Corsage, in which I play Sissí Empress ». A remake of the Romy Schneider movies? No, something completely new. The original Sissi movies are great, they are cult movies, but they don’t show the real woman. They are a romantic version of her, which was darker, tougher, she suffered a lot for being a woman at that time, she was a great intellectual, very politically committed too, something forbidden for a woman then, she was someone very sad, depressed. An example: he had a tattoo, we are talking about 1860, he got it in a sailor’s bar in Amsterdam. When I found out about that and started reading, I discussed it with the director: we had to do her justice, tell her story. It was my idea. One more proof that Vicky Krieps moves at a different pace. In other time. It goes in other directions than those marked by conventions and industry.

Director Mia Hansen-Løve says her film Bergman Island talks about what it means to be a woman in the world of cinema. What does it mean to you?
This is the kind of movie I’m doing this for. It is a movie with which I have learned a lot. Ask who you are as an artist, as a woman, as a mother, as a wife, as a lover… Are all these women the same person? And what the movie says is that in the end, you have to let it go, you will always be all these different people. We have to forget this dictatorship of reality, because we do not know what is real, that meant by feeling present, if I am present I am real … but what is reality? We have all these preconceptions about ourselves, we have to forget them. It has been a fundamental film for me, because it talks about who we are who we are right now, but also who we were years ago… I am still the girl who lived her first love, and also the mother with children.

Is the line between fact and fiction more blurred when you are an actress?
During the filming of Tiempo I talked a lot about this with Gael García Bernal. I see myself as a dancer between realities, between times, like those buffoons from the Middle Ages. I think that the actors can dance a little on those lines that society marks. If we all did it, it would be too chaotic, but it takes some of us to do it. The actors can dare to go to other realities and not know if we will return. It’s not dangerous, it’s not that I don’t care about the rules, but it means being brave to look out over the abyss. Sometimes you have to accept the madness so as not to go completely mad.

What would you do if your children wanted to follow in your footsteps?
I know there are many actors who tell their children never to do this. But I see it stupid, how can I stand in front of my daughter and tell her not to become what I am. So who am I? It would be lying. Of course, I love what I do, but I would never adorn it, and she sees it, she knows I don’t have a vacation, I don’t stop. But I love my job and I couldn’t find anything else to satisfy my curiosity.

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“Hollywood is quite a traumatic experience”