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Cate Shortland Selects Saskia Rosendahl

The fresh talent discovered by the indie auteur chats to us about her intense and gruelling role in 'Lore'

Taken from the March Issue of Dazed & Confused:

Indie-film auteur Cate Shortland: “In her casting for Lore, Saskia grabbed Kai Malina by his shirt, opened her mouth and screamed into his face, then just let her body go. It was so visceral and truthful that the four of us in the room burst into tears.”

German actress and dancer Saskia Rosendahl is the star of Cate Shortland’s second feature film, Lore. Set during the last days of World War II, it sees the titular protagonist (Rosendahl) sneak her brothers and sister across to Allied Germany after her mother and father are arrested as Nazis. Remarkably, the 19-year-old — whose angelic face electrifies her fierce screen-presence — had never acted before, although she has been a dedicated ballerina since the age of three. “(Ballet and acting) are both about embodying someone else. When you’re dancing you know how it feels to have this body. To embody Lore I had to give my body to the character.”

Shortland has a proven instinct for fresh talent – she discovered both Sam Worthington and Abbie Cornish back in 2004 with Australian indie Somersault, a tale of burgeoning teenage sexuality. With her bright eyes and strong cheekbones, Rosendahl is reminiscent of a young Milla Jovovich. But her striking looks nearly cost her the part. “When I saw a photograph of Saskia I didn’t want to see her because she was so flawless,” Shortland says. “I felt it would be too much; I couldn’t believe that someone who looked like that could be so intelligent and brave.”

In preparation for the gruelling role, Rosendahl discussed the period with her great-grandmother and learned dances from The League of German Girls, the girls’ wing of the Hitler Youth. “Every day for nine weeks I was in character,” she says. “It was intensive. One of the most difficult scenes was when the mother’s been raped. I was almost laughing, which was a way to protect myself because it was too full-on, it was so real. Trying to embody another character makes you think about your own life and your character. I got stronger because Lore had to be strong.”

The role has brought her international acclaim, but Rosendahl is cautious about her next move. “I need a break. With Lore I always tried to think of similar situations I had in my life, and it was difficult. You have to go out and into life to get all those inputs and impulses. You need a whole life as an actor.”

Photography Mathias Sterner
Styling Harry Lambert

Lore is out on February 22