Harness: Giuseppe Zanotti
Booties: Giuseppe Zanotti
New York, NY / July 29, 2012
By Jaimie Kourt
Edited by Jeanette Zhu
Where were you born, where do you live, and is there somewhere you would like to live someday?
I was born in Armenia, and I’ve lived in Los Angeles since I was four. Someday, I would love to live in Manhattan. France is another place I’d love to live. I’ve never been [there], but [I] would love to one day live in a small vineyard there.
Can you determine if your fate has been determined by a factor of places you have lived or been to?
That is a big question. My fate! I believe it very much so is written every second of every day with the places I’m in and the actions I take. I feel fortunate to be a girl from Los Angeles who knows what LA is really about without all the hype of this business. Before I became an actor, I was as far away from it as anyone in any part of the world. I was just close to the stars on the ground in Hollywood. I jumped on those names and walked on the sparkly sidewalks with my grandma, but that’s all I really knew about the business. And it is a very real city — it was for me growing up.
Yet, I can say that my goals in life really came from my parents encouraging me to search for what I love and to pursue it. I knew from a young age that this [acting] is what I wanted to do. It was a way of survival — without acting or dreaming or living in stories or living in this pretend world, I was out of balance. I had practiced other forms of art, like ballet, piano, and singing, but with acting I could finally breathe. This is why I knew as a little girl that I had to live different lives and play characters.
What elements of you, from personality to wardrobe, sense of humor to life choices, have been influenced by those above places, or any others you may have found yourself in with your work and travels?
I love fields of flowers. I will clarify, before I moved to LA, I do remember a lot of my life in Armenia, that is as a little girl. What remains are these beautiful fields of wild flowers that go for miles and some of the clothes I pick now have those flowers in them. But growing up in L.A., having spent most of my life on stage, a certain class was cultivated. Through ballet and classical music, a sense of “classical” beauty was automatically a part of my life, thanks to my mom’s great taste. For daytime, I like vintage simple floral dresses. For nighttime, classy Grace Kelly in “Rear Window” is the direction I go in.
If you could switch closets with anyone in the world, whose would it be?
I would switch closets with my mom when she was young. She used to design her clothes. She would sketch them out, pick out the fabric and colors, and my grandma would sew it. There was no other piece like it, and I remember being a little girl and thinking ‘I want to wear these clothes when I grow up.’ They would literally be the vintage clothes I buy for myself now, only her designs.
What’s your fashion pet peeve?
My brown flats that I keep getting repaired because they are all worn out. Also, my black boots that I’ve had since I was 13. I get those repaired too. I love shoes.
What or who makes you laugh?
My mom and my friend Keith make me laugh.
What is the last useful thing you learnt?
I keep learning patience from my brother.
Is there a character from a book, film, or piece of art that you identify with or would like to be friends with?
I would love to be friends with Ratatouille. He cooks delicious food and we can live in Paris together. What a dream!
What did you love about your character Tia in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2?
I don’t look anything like Tia, the Egyptian vampire that I play in the movie. I find the transformation from me (who is a vintage-wearing no makeup type of girl) to Tia (who is this Egyptian siren) really exciting. It's fun to live in the vampire world for a moment of my life. To be in that energy and be this animal is cool. It changed me, it makes me laugh. All characters have an effect on me. But what was special was that I met some good people. I am happy that I got to hang out and be vampires with some creative actors. I think that our coven was special — we were like a real small family.
In your upcoming film Low Life, you play Marion Cotillard’s sister. You're also working with James Gray and Joaquin Phoenix, who have made some iconic movies together. Do you have a certain cinematic magical experience when you work with these talents?
From the moment I read James Gray's script, before I even auditioned for the movie, I was so deeply moved and connected to this story. It was a very special experience to live with this script, to audition for this movie, to come back and audition for James, and then to live through the shoot in New York City and film the movie. Because my parents immigrated to America, I understand now, especially being an adult, what courage it took to leave everything you’ve built in one country, including all of your history and relatives, and come with one or two suitcases that hold all your belongings to a country that is foreign to you in every sense.
I can say this about working with Marion... in the simplicity of the moments that we created, we did not know each other, but human connection, even a sisterly connection somehow happened in seconds. I felt greatly connected to her. This is why I love acting. Sometimes the most intimate moments happen in cinema. It is magical.
James is a really funny and good person. His voice and the way he speaks always makes me laugh, but along with his humor he created an environment that let almost everyone flourish creatively. There was an idea of what was to occur, but how it was going to occur lived in those moments. His presence on set and the way he went about work encouraged me to be free and really do what I needed to do. It was almost like there were no rules. I don’t think I have worked with a director that flexible and welcoming with ideas from everyone involved, from the camera guy to the actors to the cinematographer. He was like a kid playing and constantly figuring things out, always willing to try different things. I love that! I am so happy to have these experiences in my memories now.
Did you get to shoot on Ellis Island? Do you have a story about that which will stick in your memory?
I’d been to Ellis Island before we started shooting. I read the books, looked at the history, and took the ferry out past the Statue of Liberty. I was in awe just imagining what it must have been like for the people who came in at that time [pursuing] the American Dream, to live in freedom. Imagine taking a boat out from your country for weeks with all your belongings and everything you’ve ever known and arriving to this island where you either get in, get deported, or wait for six weeks to hear your fate. This is where your fate lies. I was imagining amongst the museum posters and all the stuff they have for tourists what it really looked like back then in these very walls. And then, [on] the final day of our shoot, we were shooting in Ellis Island, and they dressed the room exactly [as it was back then]. You see it in pictures with all the people — and as I say this I get really emotional, as I was that whole day of our shoot — because there it was, in the flesh. Again, cinema magic... the things we can do making films. We are like kids. We have creative license to play! I was so moved just watching all of it come to life. To say the least, it was a very special experience working on this movie. And I am truly humbled.
What is your most memorable moment so far — or is that moment still to come?
You know what’s fascinating? I realized this today, answering these questions here in Manhattan at the New York Public Library: that we live different lives all throughout our own lives. When I was 11-years-old, the people in my life — that being my father, mother, uncles, and grandmas — all existed just outside my door. I could feel their love endlessly knowing that they were talking and having a barbecue and laughing. I don’t have that same kind of experience today or even those places to go to. People pass away or those homes were sold and no longer exist, and I am not 11-years-old anymore. The world, along with ourselves, grows and changes and new realities are created. Because of this, I can’t say that there is a particular moment that sticks out; rather, I dream of the moments that have passed and look forward to the moments to come.
Find Angela Sarafyan on Twitter (@AngelaSarafyan)
Don’t forget to watch The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2, in theaters November 16, 2012.