When Capital Irish Film Festival opens tonight with a DC Premiere of THE LOTUS EATERS, and revs up with tomorrow’s screening of THE OTHER SIDE OF SLEEP, all eyes in the district should be on Antonia Campbell-Hughes, a young Irish actress who seems destined for accolades in any area she decides to try her delicate but determined hands on: at the age of 28, she already has a successful fashion design career behind her and her sights firmly set on movie stardom.
The two roles we’re about to see her in in the next 48 hours could not be more different: the glamorous, vain, detached Alice in the frolicky “The Lotus Eaters” flits between parties and boys, a tarnished bright young thing, never quite happy but always ready for her close-up; the sad, quiet Arlene in the moody thriller “The Other Side of Sleep” carries within her problems much deeper and more dangerous than ex-boyfriend problems Alice has. In fact, Campbell-Hughes portrayal of this little lost soul has been lauded as one of the performances to watch at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and singled her our as a girl able to “convey a lot while doing very little”.
And since she’s going to be here, in person today, we thought we’d catch up with her so all of you can get a little better acquainted before you meet tonight. In between planes, rehearsal and other brink-of-success duties, Antonia was kind enough to type away at our questions on her trusted blackberry.
Here is how it turned out:
Tell us, what are you doing right now-be as specific as you can.
I just finished a movie which is a film4 production called Kelly&Victor based on the novel of same title by author Niall Griffiths.
It is a brutal love story set in Liverpool.. Just before that I shot a film called Storage24 with Noel Clarke. I am the lead in both movies which are both out next year.
Right now I’m getting those characters out of my skin and looking at new ones.
I started a fashion label by accident. I went to art school and was 18 making ‘conceptual wearable art pieces’ by hand in an apartment in the east village new york and was asked to put them in a fashion boutique on my street. It snowballed pretty quickly and suddenly I was manufacturing in india and running a business. I always had an agent and was acting, but didn’t put it first until a few years later when I realized fashion was more commerce and business than art.
I never rule out anything. I a very curious and like to learn and improve. If I told my secrets they would no longer be secrets. I have always written, and am always trying to develop new ideas.
You have 2 movies in the CIFF this year and two very different characters: in “The Other Side Of Sleep” you play young girl who sleepwalks her way into a murder in a small Irish town and in “The Lotus Eaters” a glamorous ex model in London – was it a conscious decision to do such different parts in such a short time span?
I was offered Lotus Eaters at the very end of shooting The Other Side of Sleep. I was very much attracted, not only to the contrast of setting and style, but to a very different approach to getting to know my character. I love my job for the diversity of projects and people you can work with. I am addicted to a challenge…..
It’s obviously almost impossible to compare but…which role was harder to prepare for?
The Other Side of Sleep was incredibly hard. But equally rewarding. I felt it required absolute immersion.. My character arlene is a girl who is selfless to an extreme of being completely without vanity or any self awareness. She isolates herself and therefore carries herself with no grace or poise or style, like someone who has never looked in a mirror. She tries to be invisible to others so all emotion had to be supressed and internalised yet still incredibly raw, as she is in constant terror. I had to live as my character for several months in solitude and with no contact or interaction with others.
What did you do for each character, to get into, you know, character?
I approach every project differently. Sometimes I am method, sometimes I study. I always collaborate with the director on how to approach the project first
Lotus Eaters depicts a world that seems close to a world you live in (or could live in if you wanted to)-in what ways does it ring true and in what ways is it pure fiction?
Lotus eaters very truthfully depicts types, but is more a combination of worlds. I felt it most specifically showed a ‘west brit’ type.
The movies have been on the festival circuit all year, tell us a little bit about what this year has been like for you, as a young actress-how is the schedule like? What it involves? What’s the easiest and what’s the hardest part about it?
The films have been at may festivals, most of which I wasn’t able to attend as I have bee filming. I went to Cannes for the premier of The Other Side of Sleep, and Tribeca for the premier of Lotus Eaters. I missed Toronto because of filming sadly, as Albert Nobbs (which I have a role in) was there as well as The Other Side of Sleep. It is great I am free to come to DC!
It’s the end of they year, so end-of-year-list are popular-so tell us some of your favorite things in 2011? Music, art, style-wise?
I did a film with Martina Amati for the Bella Freud collection. Many designers are doing this now. I think its great. Abbey Lee Kershaw is in it with me, her band Our Mountain are awesome
I’m only there for a day. But my best friend is with me and we want to have our picture taken in front of the white house christmas tree. I used to come to DC as a child cause I lived for several years in Delaware
And what is next for Antonia Cambell-Hughes: next year, in 5 years etc?
Something very different. And the release of storage24.. Aliens is a first for me!
Want more of Antonia? Catch her tonight in person at the opening night of Capitol Irish Film Festival/ screening of LOTUS EATERS @ E street, or on the big screen on Friday in THE OTHER SIDE OF SLEEP, @ Goethe Institut.