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Sally Potter selects Alice Englert

Charismatic actress Alice Englert talks sexuality and screams

Taken from the November issue of Dazed & Confused:

Film provocateur Sally Potter: “Alice is intensely focused and adventurous, pulsating with inner life. Always on the hunt for truth in performance, she is undeniably charismatic onscreen without being seduced by the trappings and mystique of glamour.”

Australian-born 19-year-old actress Alice Englert is no starry-eyed initiate to the film industry. The year she was born, her mother, Jane Campion, won a best screenplay Oscar and was nominated for best director for her darkly moody colonial-outpost drama The Piano. Englert was schooled in New York, Rome, Sydney and London – hence the schizophrenic accent – and spent her childhood shuttled between countless locations. “I grew up on film sets,” she tells us in London, her current base. “It was never romanticised. I’m passionate and feel goose-pimply on sets when making movies, but I’m lucky I didn’t come to it as a ‘dream’.”

Englert’s breakthrough came with her spirited performance in Sally Potter’s 1962-set Ginger & Rosa (2012) as Rosa, a teenager who, along with her inseparable bestie Ginger (Elle Fanning), reaches for a life beyond her mother’s frustrated domesticity. Hungry for experience in an era of sexual revolution, she gets in way over her head with an illicit affair. “I was 17, Rosa’s age,” Englert says. “I understood that strange headspace where you’re suddenly in a woman’s body yet with none of the experience to navigate a woman’s world, and you’re in shock and awe of the effect you can have. I’ve made mistakes growing up – being in an adult world and almost not believing it. It’s like Rosa was watching a fantasy happening and didn’t connect it to reality.”

Playing spellcaster Lena Duchannes in Beautiful Creatures solidified her profile, and she’s now about to scare the hell out of us with the Sundance-approved In Fear, a primal reworking of the lost-on-dark-roads-staple. Her alarmingly authentic terror was aided by director Jeremy Lovering’s extreme methods. “We weren’t told what was going to happen, so we were terrified,” she recalls. “We shot it in chronological order and had these secret messages directing us that we had to 
withhold from each other. It was exhilarating – almost like being able to watch the film as we were making it.” Englert’s movie-set lifestyle shows no sign of slowing down – next up she’ll be time-travelling with Josh Hartnett in Singularity, before heading back to the 17th century for drama New Worlds.

In Fear is released on November 15.