Eili Harboe’s breakthrough performance was in the 2013 youth film “Kiss Me You Fucking Moron” by Stian Kristiansen. After several supporting roles including the critical and commercial success “The Wave”, she played one of the leading roles in “The Ash Lad in the Hall of the Mountain King”. Her star truly rose on the international scene with her stellar performance in Joachim Trier’s “Thelma”, which was Norway’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2018 Academy Awards, and for which Harboe won the Best Actress Award at the Mar del Plata Film Festival.
Now one of the 2018 European Shooting Stars, she talks to Martin I. Petrov at this year’s Berlinale.
What are your first impressions of being part of a team of young actors here in Berlin?
Eili Harboe: I did not anticipate to be part of it, but I am really proud. It is a wonderful opportunity for everyone. It is an investment for the future.
You are already part of a successful film, Joachim Trier’s Thelma. How was your experience working with him?
E.H.: Joachim is really talented, a very empathetic and respectful filmmaker, always interested in what his actors have to say and to contribute to the story and the development of the character. From pre-production to rehearsals and shooting, it was a great experience and I would love to work with him again.
How did you prepare for your role as Thelma?
E.H.: It was long hours of preparation, especially because we have many underwater scenes and I had to test my lung capacity and push harder. There were days when we had to be for fourteen hours in the water. I am lucky that I have always been a swimmer, so it was easier in that sense; I was more comfortable, but it was still a new experience. All the scenes are with me apart from two, because I got an infection in my ear and they replaced me for the last few.
I am glad we have a liberal approach and equal pay in most cases.
How do you feel about representing Norway and what message do you have for people following your career?
E.H.: I am proud to be representing my country. It is interesting what’s happening with Norwegian Cinema today. It is going a bit into a more commercial direction, but it still continues to be very telling of our culture, our myths and traditions. There are many exciting projects coming from Norway.
Would you move abroad and work outside of Norway?
E.H.: I would like to do that. I definitely need to feel a string connection to the character I would be playing. It needs to be a strong female figure like Thelma.
Where would you place the Norwegian film industry within the general movement for equality in Film?
E.H.: I am glad we have a liberal approach and equal pay in most cases. There are still things to work on, but I think it’s going into a good direction.
Is there someone you’d like to work with? Would you do something outside of acting?
E.H.: My favorite director is David Lynch, so that would be a dream. I have never studied acting. I am currently finishing my degree in English Literature, so I’d love to write a script, maybe even direct. Also, another idea is to curate an art exhibition that has to do with literature and film – maybe other arts too.
This interview was conducted at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival and in collaboration with NISI MASA.