Hi Edouard, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Great! Thank you. Working on a lot of exciting things to come!
How were you initially drawn into the acting world?
My passion for acting initially came from watching childhood heroes. Watching Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, I saw this enjoyment and the freedom of expression. I wanted that.
Although, it wasn’t before I filmed What Happened To Monday, and sat down with Noomi Rapace, that I was drawn to the craft of acting. I remember sitting backstage while they were prepping the scene. Noomi didn’t give me advice but rather shifted my perspective of what acting is– the natural portrayal of real life. She made it sound so simple, and yet I could see how she used it in the scene we filmed.
How would you say all your academic background and knowledge has help you with your acting?
I think it comes down to diversity. Having studied in three different countries, (Finland, Switzerland & USA), I’ve learned a lot by observing people and their behavior, instincts and cultures. Having been exposed to such a variety characters has shaped how I portray characters in my work.
After some great roles, you are now starring on The Runner – what was the audition process like?
The audition process was a very unnatural one. I had intensively been taking classes at an acting school ran by Michelle Danner. Every now and then she would drop in to supervise and give notes. She happened to be there on my first day for my first performance piece. It was nerve wracking, but eventually, after a few months, she pulled me aside and said that I had something special. She asked if I’d be interested in meeting with her the following week. When we met she pitched me the idea of a script she was developing called, The Runner. Unknowingly, I was auditioning for her for three months.
What drew your attention the most about this movie?
I remember reading the script on a flight between D.C and L.A. The second I finished the first read through, I loved it. I couldn’t put it down. Not only because it’s a good story, but also because it was so daunting and edgy. Nowadays, you see a lot of actors fall into stereotypical roles. I felt like I could actually do something with this character that most young actors could only dream of.
I understand you went full method with this movie – why do you choose to go on this direction?
That’s a good question. Once I had read the script, what truly stood out for me was the honesty of this character. It wasn’t easy for him and it wasn’t always pretty. And instead of looking away from it, we looked straight at it. Once I understood this, I began speaking to Michelle about his backstory, his dreams and ambitions, and eventually we came to the weight loss. We both hesitated at first but as the script developed and this character began to blossom, you have to depict the truth of this person. You owe it to him and everyone eels affected by this lifestyle.
Did you have any second thoughts before going on this direction?
Once I had landed the role I had a sit down with my agent and my father. My agent listened and gave me his thoughts, which were more related to health concerns. I was in good shape at the time, weighing about 161 lbs. I don’t think he could have imagined the extreme change to how I look today.
My father on the other hand didn’t question it one bit. He told me to be focused, smart, and enjoy the journey.
I’ve now been on a very restricted diet for about 4-5months. I now weight at 130lbs. I still have a bit to go as we approach the start date, but I can definitely say that there have been times, when I’m only eating about a salad and a dozen coffees and wondered if could finish it.
What were some of things you get to do for this role?
It’s great to have been mentored and coached by Michelle Danner, specifically on the background of a character like this. It is of key importance to find, and have empathy and understanding of your character. We do things for a reason, and as the character, you need to be able to set judgment aside and see it from the characters perspective.
You get to borrow inspiration from any other previous roles?
Not directly, no. This project is so different from anything I’ve ever done. I’m excited to start.
What was it like to work with Michelle Danner and what was it like to have an acting coach actually directing you?
It’s been terrific. What I like about our chemistry is that we both want to work for the sake of the story. That’s what’s most important. So there’s never any room for anything else.
When and where can people catch on the film?
Were hoping to be brining this on a vast journey through the different festivals across the world. The south of France specifically for one.
What else is happening next in Edouard Philipponnat’s world?
Apart from acting, I’m a big activist for climate change. I believe that everyone who has a platform should bring more attention to this subject. There is a variety of ways everybody can take part whether it be from a plant-based diet, to recycling and eliminating plastic consumption. It is only through working together that we can save our planet for the future generations to come.