An interview with LAFA winner Kristina Goztola ("The Necklace")
Kristina, congratulations again on winning the Inspiring Woman in Film award. Before we talk about the movie and your role as Maia, please introduce yourself. What made you interested in storytelling and how did you start out?
Thank you, it's a great pleasure to receive this award.
As a little girl my dream was to be an actress. At very young I sarted to learn dancing, singing, so at the age of 19, I was already playing leading roles in theatrical musicals. My life was about music and theatre. Until one day I saw Jessica Lange in Eugene O'Neil's drama in the West End.
You studied acting in London and in Los Angeles - do you feel educational training is essential for actors?
I always think back with gratitude to my wonderful masters. The Meisner technique learned at the Actor Center in London, gave me self-confidence in front of the camera. In Los Angeles I received great encouragement from my teachers, saying that I have a place in the international film market.
What is your all-time favorite movie?
The Devil's Advocate with Al Pacino and Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn.
Juliette Binoche's beautiful acting in „The English Patient” dazzles me.
You're an in-demand actress, with a very impressive list of credits! What were some of the highlights of your career so far, and how do you deal with the stress that comes with this career?
I'm proud to have filmed with Jason Clarke, Rosamund Pike in „The Man with the Iron Heart” biographical action movie. I enjoyed the shooting with Kristanna Loken in the American-Canadian action television series „Painkiller Jane”.
It was wonderful to play in Matei Visniec's two-act drama in Paris and in Avignon.
Sport is very important to me. Whether swimming or yoga, it helps to refresh not only physically but also spiritually. Our profession is a constant competition, which is why I love it so much. I enjoy the challenges.
What is your dream role and which film director would you like to work with in the future?
It would be wonderful to work with Quentin Tarantino, Luc Besson and Woody Allen.
We work on scenarios and several film plans with my husband Peter Halmi. If these films will be realized I will be satisfied.
Let's talk about The Necklace and your role as Maia. Your performance is wonderful and so full of nuance. How did you get into the mindset of Maia, what did you do to prepare for this shoot?
Maia a young girl full of dreams and ambition. There are stations in the lives of all of us when we are at a crossroads and we have to decide. We have to choose between good and bad. Many times these moral decisions affect our entire lives. For Maia, the necklace is a symbol of prosperity and wealth in the film, she becomes obsessed with it. When we shot the scene of Maia arriving in Paris, I remembered when I was first time in New York. It was beautiful and I felt so tiny among the huge skyscrapers.
As an immigrant yourself, you could probably identify with some of the difficulties the character experienced. Did you find any additional similarities between you and Maia, that you could identify with?
I was born in a European Union country, I live here and I mainly work here. Paris is wonderful, perfect place for an artist, I have lot of friends here. I have nothing in common with Maia. I could never, even in thought, exploit or deceive a blind man. Maia is more of a negative character in the film but through her personality I tried to show that female vanity can take us women in the wrong direction.
The film goes in-depth into exploring our emotional vulnerability and complicity as humans, as well as physical disabilities. Which scene was the most challenging for you, and why?
Mathieu Barbos played wonderfully the role of the blind man. Maia is indifferent to his disabilities and looks at him coldly, insensitively. When I see someone crying, I hug him, comfort him.....Depicting the selfishness and insensitivity of Maia was the biggest challenge for me.
What was it like to work with actors Mathieu Barbos and Eric da Costa? Was there any improv on set, or did you mainly stick to the screenplay?
We did a lot of rehearsals with Mathieu before shooting. It was important that the movement of his body be accurate. Our friend Jean-Philippe is a french musician and blind. He gave us advice how to make Mathieu's play credible. Eric has a great cinematic proficiency with a great sense of humour, so Peter let him improvise sometimes
Kristina Goztola & Peter Halmi
You're working closely with your husband, director-producer Peter Halmi. What's your secret to a successful creative collaboration?
We think very similarly. Peter started his career as a theater director and he also worked in Los Angeles where he directed musicals. We have a lot in common. The actors love to work with him because he is prepared, precise and always knows what he wants.
As an actress, you're on set a lot, and meet so many filmmakers. In your opinion, what is the common mistake film directors do? And what are some things you'd encourage film directors to do more when working with actors?
As a producer as well I'm convinced that pre-productions for the films are decisive. It is not good for an actor to see that a director is uncertain, nervous or tense. There is no time to nurture the actor's soul during shooting but if I see that the director is confident and beleives in me, I feel safe in front of the camera.
Your character in the film - Maia, is very inspiring in the way she shows the right direction for younger girls. What is your message to them?
The female attraction originates from the soul. If it is not accompanied by the power of purity, the outer beauty withers from within.
Do you have any advice for up-and-coming actors who wish to follow in your footsteps?
Train yourself! Be yourself! Don't imitate anyone! Be unique and unrepeatable!
What are you currently working on?
We are working on the preparations of a tv-movie. It'll be a romantic drama and just like in „The Necklace” we put emphasis on the triple unit of drama, music and beauty such as in opera performances.
Where can our readers follow your work?
Is there anything you'd like to add, or someone you wish to thank?
I'd like to thank you for the interview.