Beate Bille • Actress
by Vitor Pinto
25/01/2006 - A notable performance as a leftwing activist facing a trial for murder in Per Fly's drama Manslaughter [trailer] placed Beate Bille under the spotlight of fame. Sharing her time between theatre and cinema, and totally unafraid to accept challenging roles, Beate Bille is now among the most promising young actresses on the Scandinavian film scene. Interview with a Shooting Star eager to spread her talent beyond Danish borders.
Cineuropa: Can you tell us about your career before you got your first leading role in Per Fly's Manslaughter?
Beate Bille: I started out in the late 90s acting in some short and feature films. Then I was studying at the National Theatre School. In my fourth year I made a German film directed by Till Franzen, and I also passed a casting for Manslaughter. I was offered the role one month before my graduation.
What attracted you the most in the script and what was it like working with Per Fly?
First of all, I think Per Fly is a brilliant filmmaker. He had made two exceptionally good films before Manslaughter, and, of course, the third part of the trilogy wasn't less amazing. I was delighted to get the role in the film. I liked how it mixed social and personal dramas and the way it explored the characters' dilemmas. Per is such an open person, always searching for the most absolute and honest expression for the characters. We had a script, we knew exactly where we were going but, at the same time, it was an open process. We kept discussing the scenes and improvising some of them…
Pil is a very tough character. How did you prepare it? I imagine you are not a political activist yourself, are you?
No, I am not! I am interested in politics, though. Speaking to real political activists was one of the most important steps in my preparation. I learnt a lot from them. I also read about the subject and watched documentaries. From a physical point of view, Per suggested a week before the shooting that I should get my hair cut and dye it black.
You have just finished shooting Island of Lost Souls with Nikolaj Arcel, who previously directed the political thriller King's Game (Kongekabale)? How different was that experience from Manslaughter?
Totally different. It is a fantasy film full of special effects, a kind of a Harry Potter style film. I really enjoyed myself. I decided to do it because I liked both the script and the director, not because the character was totally different from my previous one. If a role is challenging, I'll buy it!
Did Manslaughter transform you into a national celebrity? How do you deal with fame?
As a matter of fact fame doesn't change my daily life that much. Many people don't even recognise me because I look so different in real life than I do in the film. But those who do recognise me usually come and tell me how much they liked the film and congratulate me on my work, which is obviously rewarding!
Danish films are distributed in several European territories and are shown at several festivals. Does an international career appeal to you?
I would love to take part in a European film. I did a feature in Germany, Die Blaue Grenze that starred Hanna Schygulla, and I enjoyed the experience very much. When you are abroad you get to know people with different viewpoints, which always ends up enriching your work. It would definitely be challenging to work more in non-Danish spoken films. Hopefully the shooting stars experience will give me the opportunity to meet some interesting people in the industry. I am looking forward to it.