SPECIAL TO DE PALMA A LA MOD
Karoline Herfurth has been acting in front of the camera since she was ten years old, when she appeared in the German television movie Holiday Beyond The Moon. After playing teenagers in several feature films, she gained international recognition for her role as "The Plum Girl," the initial victim in Tom Tykwer's Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer, which starred Dustin Hoffman, Ben Whishaw, and Alan Rickman. In 2008, she appeared with Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes in Stephen Daldry's Oscar-nominated adaptation of Bernhard Schlink's The Reader. That same year, Herfurth played dance student Lilli Richter in Caroline Links' A Year In Winter, a role which won her the Bavarian Film Award for best young actress. In 2010, Herfurth starred in We Are The Night, as a young woman drawn into a clan of female vampires.
In Brian De Palma's Passion, Herfurth plays Dani, the assistant who has a crush on her boss, Isabelle (Noomi Rapace). Dani is sort of the film's secret weapon, an inquisitive soul harboring an unrequited desire that quietly begins to boil over as the narrative twists and turns into an absurd surreality, and Herfurth portrays her with a captivating expressiveness. The actress graciously agreed to an e-mail interview with De Palma a la Mod, which was conducted last month through her publicist.
LaMod: How did you become involved with Passion?
Karoline Herfurth: I was simply asked by the casting agency that worked for Passion in Germany to audition for them. Then I was invited to come a second time to work with Brian De Palma himself on the scenes.
What were your thoughts upon reading the Passion screenplay? Were you previously familiar with the original French film by Alain Corneau?
No, I´ve never heard of it. But I loved the script and I was thrilled by the idea of working with Brian De Palma. Also working with such huge names like Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace was just overwhelming to me.
What was the rehearsal period like for this project?
We had a whole week to read the script and ask all the questions we have with the story and the characters. It was very intense and a special experience to me, to see Rachel, Brian and Noomi working. Very Inspiring. I learned a lot from these days.
Can you think of anything specific that was perhaps changed or altered after playing it out in rehearsals?
Brian is a Visionary. He knows exactly what he needs for his movie. And he sees every little thing you play for him. For me it was more about understanding what he wants me to do, not to change anything.
Was it a fun change of pace to be able to speak German in some of the scenes?
For me it is weird to switch between the languages. English is a whole other world. It´s like being in an phantasy already. Switching to German is mostly disturbing. It feels hard and dry. I love talking in English. It gives new possibilities of transformation to me.
I have to ask-- Was the "Ass Cam" commercial actually shot from a camera in your own back pocket?
Yes, partly it was :-)
What was it like to work with Brian De Palma on the set? Can you recall any specific direction he gave that stands out in your mind?
Yes. There is this moment, when my character sees through the window into the restaurant and watches her love Isabelle flirting with another man, and, in her eyes, betraying her. Brian wanted me to walk to a certain point, see the two, be hurt and then cry. He was very exact with the timing and I had to redo it certain times. When I finally had it done, he came to me and kissed my forehead without saying any more. He exactly knows, what it means to play those scenes for an actor. He demands everything from you as an actor, but if you give it to him, he sees it as a present and is thankful. He knows that it means giving a part of your soul. And that is very special.
You wrote and directed a short film, Mittelkleiner Mensch, that was well-received at some film festivals last year. How did that come about? And how was the experience of making the film?
In the beginning it was just a joke and to have a little fun with some friends. But after a while it became more serious and kind of developed its own dynamic. It was like a little monster that grew bigger and bigger and all I could do was feed it, because it was hungry. I think, mostly, making movies feels like that. But it is the greatest and most passionate thing to do in the world I could think of. And I loved it. For the first time I was never bored, not for a second. It was a very fulfilling experience.
Do you think you might direct a feature film someday?
I hope so. There is a movie planned for next year :-)
Did you learn anything new about filmmaking while working on Passion?
Yes. A lot. Brian is a director who is prepared to the very last bit. That is very important for a shooting day. Then he knows exactly what he wants without being closed to impulses. To me that is a very important skill and fine balance a director needs to have. Also, the professional way of working, and the script, and on the set watching Rachel and Noomi impressed me.
Was it fun working with Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace?
Yes, a lot. They are fine and very nice colleagues. We had a lot of fun and I loved working with them and learning from them.
Follow Karoline Herfurth on her Facebook page.