JB: The first question that I am going to ask you is the first question that we ask everyone we interview
I: How are you? Hehe
JB: Which is.....what is it that you love about movies?
I: About movies? I didn’t expect that you were going to ask me this question. I love acting, really I never thought what is it that I love about movies. When I started acting I thought it began to be my passion and that I didn’t even have time to think ‘what is it that I love?’ because the emotion got me so for me it was for the movies I appeared in. The energy, the way inside and to tell a story. For example after somebody sees your movie they come full of emotions, they want to hug you so you really did give them a little story with lots of emotions maybe sometimes you learn something’s and sometimes you learn nothing but you can summon emotions. So in two words, three words it is very difficult to answer.
JB: Tell us how you got involved in Silence of Lorna.
I: Well, I am from Pristina but at that time which is in Sareavo I was doing a play in Bosnia and then the casting agent from Paris called me because they saw other movies that I did in Albania that were co-productions so they told me they want to film you, can you be in Pristina, so I went there and the audition lasted for five minutes I just had to say my name is Arta and where do you live. I couldn’t speak French at all.
JB: Nothing at all except days of the week?
I: I just knew because I lived in America for a year and I just knew the days of the week and that was it. And then after two weeks he called me, the casting agent, and said they want to come and see you, where are you, and I was in Saravo so they came to Saravo and we filmed for one day and that was the first time that we met. And after that they told me if I could come to Lieje to do two more scenes with Fabrisio and the other actress but in French so I had to learn two scenes by heart, two big scenes from the movie, and I learned them by heart with the teacher. I tried to understand the story more than the words. I tried to feel the story because when you don’t speak the language its better not to try to say perfectly the words but to understand the meaning of the scene. So I came here and after two days of shooting they said congratulations you are Lorna we would like to work with you. And I had to learn French, so I began I went to a course for two weeks which was fantastic course eight hours a day and then after eight hours when I went to the hotel and it was like doing double work that I had that my professor gave me because I really wanted to learn it. And when you speak other languages, I also speak, spoke three other languages, so it was easier.
JB: And do you know why the Dardennes were attracted to you, why they wanted to work with you?
I: No, that is a question for them, I think you ask them but the first time that we met I think we felt like we knew each other before sometimes you meet people and you feel like you have known them forever so I felt very relaxed and I think they also felt very relaxed I just love the way the way they work because that is the way I work so I love doing rehearsals eight hours a day or seven, just to do the scene as better as possible and they do the same thing – so it is a question for them I think.
JB: Can you tell us a bit about their working methods?
I: So its great how they work because they do always one and a half months of rehearsal always. And always we have three months of shooting chronologically and always one hour before shooting we have another rehearsal so in one and a half months of rehearsal we rehearse almost all of the scenes and then, for example, we have the scene and they said we think you should do it this way and then they ask your opinion what do you think so they are really very open and they leave you to do your own research and to give your own possibilities and what you think about the scene then you were trying to find as many possibilities for the scene as possible actually.
We tried everything and then after one and a half months I had time to think and they had time to think also for the scenes because every scene was filmed and then just one hour before shooting we talked and sometimes changed it completely and sometimes it stayed the same. At the end there weren’t any improvisations except one or two scenes, the scene, the love scene, the half of the scene we didn’t rehearse we just talked and we said that it is going to be like this, they are very good I mean they give importance to the actions and that’s very good because then you are concentrating you now and you don’t think about the future or the past and you are very concrete and that’s very good. You don’t being to intellectualise those things you can really concentrate into the moment so plus for me I think it was much easier because I was in the movie all the time so since I woke up in the morning or at night because dependant on when we shot morning or night, I was continuous and chronologically continuously in the movie all the time. I woke up and I was in Lorna’s life and it was my life because I choose I live like her, I tried to be as alone as much as possible, I mean I didn’t go party at all. Saturday and Sunday’s when it was free I went only to the pool to swim and that was it. After a scene if it was very emotional what happened to Lorna, its my body my emotions, I just went walk to the street sometimes I would cry but I tried to stay alone. I really spended five months being Lorna, I mean we had fun during the shooting because they are very agreeable, nice and friendly and plus the whole crew are like a family, they work together for ten or twelve years, I am not sure but you feel like you are at home, we laughed a lot although sometimes the scenes were serious – I think when you laugh you feel more relaxed and then when you begin to act you can start to change more easily. And they give you this confidence and I had confidence in them 100%. And I love them because when you don’t doubt then you don’t think how should I do this way or that way, you just do it. So it is very great.
JB: So how much actual influence did you have? They were completely open to your views if you said ‘I want to do it this way’ they would listen?
I: Yeah, if I suggested something if I was in the scene and said I don’t feel it, they said ok try it how do you feel but we had to rehearse it and that’s good because we can speak all day long but when you do it on the scene and when you act it it could be totally different, it could not, sometimes it does not work at all. It works while we are speaking but when in action its not good. But yes they let you do stuff, I mean if you have an idea if you want to do it you can try it and even, I mean, when were shooting a scene, because sometimes we shot a scene five times, ten times and the most it was forty-seven times – this was the love scene but you had, the scenes as you saw the movie were scenes of three minutes or two minutes so you have to do it all, the actors have to be good, the camera, the sound, its like a little bit like the theatre.
JB: Tell us about Lorna and how you think Lorna is. Do you see her as a victim in the situation she finds herself in or is she the protagonist who creates the situation?
I: Well, she is everything. In the movie she is everything. First you see her as a women who is very strong who has her goal and then little by little she starts changing and becomes more soft. So a victim? Yes sometimes she is a victim and something she creates the things herself so she creates the situation but I cannot say Lorna is a victim or a, because its sad she has a goal so she accepted something that is not so good, but life took her there I mean she had a goal, she said I’m going to live as best as possibly
I think she didn’t even realise that Claudie is going to die for her it was more yes, ** my boyfriend and then little by little she started getting into a life with Claudie she she said no, its not working, I want to change something and while she wanted to change something in her life and she, I mean she didn’t say to her boyfriend, she couldn’t do those things because of Fabio so somebody was saying no, what are you doing? So forcing her not to do things right and she was put in a very difficult situation. In general how I see her as a human being, who is trying to survive. And its very difficult to say after you work five months, six months as a character because you live with her everyday and then to speak objectively is like speaking objectively of my life.
JB: Does she fall in love with Claudie?
I: Yes I think so because its a love story also, that’s what I think. And that first scene that the audience sees that there is something going on between them is where she is in the hospital and she opens the door he’s sleeping and she watches him. Things are going in her heart but at the same time she thinks something, is not love at first because she cannot fall in love at once because she has a boyfriend, she is dans le merde, not in a good situation but yes she feels something. And then at the end she offers herself, she gets naked with him, its more naked inside than the clothes, I mean that’s how I feel.
JB: And how was that scene? It’s quite a difficult scene, quite exposing, literally exposing, did you find it difficult to do the love scene?
I: No, not difficult but very emotional because it is a very emotional scene I mean its the first time that we see Lorna really frightened, that she gives us a little bit of emotion because until that moment she is really strong and she trying to keep all her emotions inside, but inside she wants to expose, I mean that’s how I felt while I was working. And when it came to that scene I mean I remember I opened the window and threw the key and close it and then I start to take my clothes off, it wasn’t hard to take my clothes because its nothing its not being naked that is hard, and then just the idea that I would offer myself to Claudie like Lorna offers just to say stop it, don’t take drugs – I mean for both of us...
JB: Was she offering herself or is she, dominating? Like you say, when she takes her clothes off its like she is unburdening herself, its unsexual. It’s difficult to know what is going to happen.
I: Yes definitely. Yeah at the same time for me she wants to tell him because she is so emotional and she cannot continue seeing him because she did so much for him and she says stop it and it comes in such a way that you can not judge it, you think ‘what is she doing?’ – it was the same for me when I acted. I mean I took off my clothes and then I had to walk I got really emotional because for the first time they have contact, I mean she says to her dream goodbye, I don’t accept this doing the things in the wrong way, I mean even now when I am speaking I am getting goose bumps because it was so strong the scene and it doesn’t mean that after when we cut the scene we didn’t laugh but for the moment Lorna and Claude, its a very intense scene. I mean you look at each other and you don’t know in that position you kiss before the kiss it was very busting, emotions kk-wheew that’s how it felt and we were very prepared, that’s why I am saying it was so hard I was in the movie all the time, 10-15 hours per day and then went home and five months you were in the movie and then things come very natural and then before a scene I take my time, I am in my room, I don’t even watch the director they say ok go and I... because I try to keep the emotions near.
JB: Do you think you would like to work more in social realism or would you like to make a classic Hollywood film?
I: Everything, I never before I always did I mean when I started acting and I did theatre and film, I always did both. I didn’t even have time to divide and when I got a project I read it completely and if the screenplay hit me I liked it, its not that I said now I want this kind of movie. It doesn’t mean that I would love to do a commercial movie or Hollywood movie or a artscene movie – if the story is good, its doesn’t mean that its commercial, if the story is good it is worth doing 100% then I think it works aways that’s my feeling. Even when I did the short movies it was years ago I was 100% inside, people didn’t understand they were all student movies. It doesn’t matter if you’re paid more or less or if you work with big directors or small ones.
JB: You haven’t got a planned career trajectory?
I: No, I got an idea I always wanted to work everything and I feel now, I want to work more. Because I think the world is very small and we are all citizens of this world. I cannot be stuck in one place. I never thought this way, even when we had the war I never even thought of the war, I thought I loved acting, I’m going to do it. It wasn’t so easy – I mean now when I say it comes very naturally – but when you’re inside you try and you want to believe in your own opinion. You say, yes its possible. Now what I have in mind is to do work as much as possible, to choose different projects. I mean I always took the time choosing the projects.
Do you think coming from Bosnia, gave you an insight into Lorna as an immigrant in Belgium?
I don’t know. Maybe. I never thought about it that way. What I did, always when I work in another character, and the character of Lorna, is I began from zero because it doesn’t really matter that she’s from Albania she could be from anywhere else, she could even be Belgian or from America. I said OK, I’m going to begin from zero, she’s a human being, she does this, she has this goal, that goal, and then I put her in the situation, and then I see the whole like her. I mean like you’re saying it was more or less the same situation, and I tried to live more like Lorna. I was lucky that I was in Liege, the same town as she was, and I could walk the same streets as she did.