Oyster Interview: Alice Englert
"Being in a film isn't always a glorious affair."
Actress Alice Englert isn't your average 18-year-old. She has three movies coming out in the next twelve months (including Ginger & Rosa, co-starring Elle Fanning, and Beautiful Creatures with Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons), she's the daughter of Oscar-award winning director Jane Campion and, most bizarrely, she doesn't use Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. We interviewed her for Oyster #101, our Digital Issue:
Alice Cavanagh: Your parents work in the film industry. Was acting something you always wanted to do?
Alice Englert: Well, I was always really attracted to stories. That was my first, and it still is my only real, love in this world. I think that we are constantly telling stories all the time, you know? I meet you; you meet me. I say, "Where are you from? What do you do?" We tell each other our stories, and I think that story, as an art form, is really, really important to people.
Were your parents supportive when you started acting?
Well, you know what? At first I was sort of aware of the industry and the way it worked and how, you know, being in a film isn't always a glorious affair. It means mud and gumboots and long hours and 4:30 in the morning, and you're going to be tired — it's not going to be easy. At the same time people lay on the flattery, they're going to also be laying on the criticism, so you have to really love what you're doing. I think once my mother saw that I did, she was totally supportive. I love that I get this opportunity and I think that's what's important and she saw that, and so they were amazing with that.
I don't think I'd support my daughter wanting to be an actress, though [laughs].
Because, it's... I can't quite say why; I'm not sure why.
Has your mum offered you any advice about starting out in the industry?
Oh, all the time [laughs]. She's a mum — of course she does.
Does she get involved in your projects?
It sort of depends. We always talk about work and we really enjoy it. I think it can be really hard for kids whose parents are in film and they want to do the same thing, because they want to please them. I feel lucky that her and I have a good relationship and we can actually talk about what we do and I don't feel too threatened.
The theme of our issue is 'The Internet', and I was thinking about how it has changed the concept of celebrity — everything is so public now. Is that something you're really aware of as a young actress? Do you find that daunting?
I guess what I find disappointing is that people look at celebrities as role models. They are humans, and humans make mistakes no matter what, right? I think we have to be really aware of the fact that being an actor and being a celebrity are really different things. They cross over, but you don't need to be an actor to be a celebrity — most working actors are not celebrities. There are the people who make it into the celebrity thing and get paid ridiculous amounts of money — it's a strange little niche group — but there's not that many people in the world that are in that situation. So, I think my job is to promote my films and do as much as I can for the film and try keeping my own life separate, because my life isn't my job.
So, with that in mind, are you really conscious about things like Facebook?
I don't have Facebook.
Have you ever had a Facebook?
Yeah, I did. I deleted it.
When did you delete it?
I deleted it... maybe last year?
Because you're of the generation that grew up with the internet...
That's where all our first little romances started!
So, what didn't you like about it?
Well, I kind of just got sick of communicating that way. I wasn't getting anything out of it. I email the people I really care about, and I phone them, and I actually make the effort. I also don't think it's romantic to ask someone for their name and then look them up on Facebook. It should be like, "Shit, I might never see this chick again; I've got to go talk to her." I think it subtracts the mystery from that sort of situation.
What about how digital is impacting film? Do you download movies?
It would be kind of blasphemous for you to do that.
Yeah, I think so. Also, I guess I never figured out how to do it, and I wouldn't now out of principle. But I think, as always, there's always a new thing that happens, and my first response to all of that stuff is fear.
Is that fear of the unknown?
That's getting deep. Change is always happening, though, right? And I think that if you approach it with fear then it's going to get out of control. It's sort of like what has happened to music in the digital age, but what I noticed with music is you have to be able to play live — otherwise you won't make money, because people just download.
If you had to listen to one song for the rest of your life what would it be?
There's a couple, but probably something by Luciano Pavarotti.
What about choosing one film?
Oh shit. Umm... Oh no — I think maybe Alien.
Pavarotti and Alien on repeat would be an interesting existence.
[Laughs] I mean, I think that film transcends genres, and I think I could probably watch it for the rest of my life, maybe.
What about eating one meal for the rest of your life?
This is going to be really sad: two-minute noodles.
No way! What flavour?
Beef. I know — it's terrible! Oh, it's so bad. Hopefully I'll grow out of it, but it's been a long relationship with those two-minute noodles.
Interview: Alice Cavanagh
Photography: Rene Vaile
Fashion: Ana Ifould
Hair and Make-up: Naomi McFadden using MAC
Shot at Sun Studios.