Andrea Osvart Talks AFTERSHOCK, Working with Eli Roth, Shooting in Chile, Working with Practical Effects, and More
Opening this week Aftershock, a fictionalized disaster film loosely based on the 2010 Chilean earthquake, staring Eli Roth as as Gringo, an American divorcée touring through Chile with his friends Ariel (Ariel Levy) and Pollo (Nicolas Martinez). After meeting a trio of beautiful women (Andrea Osvart, Lorenza Izzo, and Natasha Yarovenko) the group heads out for a night of drunken debauchery, but when a devastating earthquake hits they must do whatever it takes to survive a night of recurring aftershocks, escaped convicts, and panicking civilians. Directed by Nicolas Lopez, Aftershock takes a decidedly “genre” approach to the subject matter setting up death after bloody death and delivering on gruesome effects. Aftershock is available in select theaters and on VOD May 10th.
At a recent press day for the film I sat down for a one on one interview with Andrea Osvart. We talked about working with Eli Roth, Nicholas Lopez’s directorial style, shooting in Chile, and her next project Anita B, and more. Hit the jump to see what she had to say.
Question: How did you get involved in Aftershock?
ANDREA OSVART: It was one of those irregular things, because usually the process is long and I do an audition, they ask me to do a callback, and weeks pass by or months, but this was something totally not like that. They sent me this self-tape that I had to in when I was in Europe, I taped myself I sent it in. I think it was a Friday and Tuesday night my agent called me that you are the lead of the movie. This was before Christmas and January 7th I was already on the plane to Chile. It was really fast.
Was the character written to be from Hungary?
OSVART: It was written to be, originally, Scandinavian so they were planning to have a blonde girl. I think Eli Roth is really smart, he wanted to cover a few markets and he did. When they saw my tape they really liked it, thank god, they liked the audition so much that they just the character from Scandinavian to Hungarian. It didn’t really change anything because they already had Eli in the cast and the girl from Spain, who’s by the way, Russian.
Since this was based on such recent real events there was a unique opportunity for you guys to do kind of “primary source” research. What was the research process like for you?
OSVART: I didn’t really do research. I remember and of course the 2010 Chilean earthquake was really about the miners and when I read the script I realized this was a fictional script basically. It’s inspired by real events but the characters are fantasy characters so I didn’t want to worry too much about the realistic thing just be in the moment and use the moment and that story for my character. I didn’t feel there was need of historical research too much. Of course I knew everything, the facts and the data, but I didn’t want to go into looking at too much pictures because this is not a documentary or a realistic movie that you would feel like this is happening for real. This is an entertaining movie.
What’s your approach to a script? Some actors really study the script and break it down, other actors like to have the material fresh for filming. What’s it like for you?
OSVART: I think acting is a process and I did use different methods in my life and I still change my methods all the time. There were times when I didn’t prepare with a coach and there were times when I did and then I went back again working with myself. Sometimes I over studied a script and other times I just let it be and whatever happens, happens. With this script it talked to me from the first moment and I felt this way perfect for me. There were so many mechanical things in it that I really didn’t have to use Stanislavsky method too much because there were dead bodies covered in blood are all over the place around you. So it was really just having to look at them it already affects you so you don’t really act but you just be there character because it’s scary.
On this film were you guys by the letter on the script or was there room for improv?
OSVART: I think that we pretty much followed the script however the days were pretty spontaneous because Nicholas likes to invent new things sometimes and insert little details in the scene and you just have to trust him and follow his instructions.
Talk a little bit about working with Nicholas as a director.
OSVART: He’s absolutely different from every single director that I’ve worked with because he’s so creative and passionate that he knows what he’s doing and he creates also the same day new ideas. He’s not a director who has the shot perfectly written out and drawn, one tow three four five sic and that’s it, he’s not mathematical, but he is just going with the flow and very spontaneous. I think that’s the right word for it.
What was it like having your producer alongside you as an actor?
OSVART: I don’t let myself get intimidated by anyone anymore. Eli is a total friendly guy and a total pro. Actually he is the one who wanted me and he and Nicholas casted me in the part so they wanted me really bad and they always made me feel very good while we were shooting because they assured me that this is what they were looking for. Eli is a team player so he was always with us and we had the same lunch and ate the same things. We were even all the time.
Eli has talked about how shooting in Chile you can get away with a lot that you can’t really do here, what was that experience like for you?
OSVART: I think I know what he means, he didn’t even tell me or tell us what was going on sometimes, permits, permission, dangerous scenes, hours, maybe children involved. I remember once we had a scene where we had to hide under a table because a piece of ceiling was falling on us and I thought it was foam, but then the camera was rolling and there was a huge bang and I realized like, “Oh my god what is this?” and he said, “Concrete.” I said, “What, are you serious?” Thank god the table held. They were just, “Okay, it went well.” They improvised.
I understand that most of the effects were practical, how was that to work with?
OSVART: Yeah, as I said, we didn’t really have to act too much. [Laughs] Every day there was a tent for us to basically dust-shower and there was a vacuum cleaner that was pouring dust on us and blood and I don’t know what else. I used to walk around with ear plugs in my nose and my ears because there was just dust everywhere and these little I don’t know what they’re called any way sand and blood were just poured on you for breakfast.
Had you ever visited Chile before?
OSVART: No, it was my first time. I’m very happy because I had never been to South America before and I had no idea what it was going to be like. We kind of competed with Nicholas because he was always a patriot, “Because Chile! Because Chile! Chile’s a small country and we have to prove to the world we exist! Let’s put us on the map!” I’m Hungarian so I have the same complexes. “Do you know where Hungary is? How big is that? Mention famous Hungarian people.” That’s why in the movie, I think he kept it there, there is a scene where he wrote a song about Hungary and Hungarians. We were trying to compete. But I understand, yeah, Chile is a small country so he has to prove himself.
I saw on Twitter that the Hungarian poster is pretty much just a big picture of you, that’s pretty awesome.
OSVART: Yeah that’s a good one actually, at least for my market for my own market, the local distributor decided to promote the movie this way because of course I’m known there. So they decided to celebrate the fact that I’m in this movie and they put me on the poster.
That’s very cool. So, have you ever personally been through an earthquake?
OSVART: No, just little ones. I remember 2009 I woke up one day in Rome in the night and I felt shaking, but it wasn’t major i just felt the door swaying a bit and then in the morning on the news i heard there was a big earthquake in Italy in Abruzzo, six-point-something range and hundreds of people died. It was like 100 kilometers away, but I felt it. It was so scary to realize that for me it was just a little shake, but a few miles away hundreds of people died.
Since you haven’t personally been through an earthquake, what experiences did you pull from to get into that disaster mentality?
OSVART: I think when these things happen to people, I imagine, that they don’t really think, they just act by instinct and with guts. So all I cared about and I worked on my character in a way that all I have to do is protect my sister and I don’t know what’s going on, because if there’s chaos and an earthquake you don’t know what’s going on. You do even courageous things because you don’t think. If you have to jump you jump, because its survival instinct. So the so-called overall objective of my character, technically speaking, was to protect my sister.
I think my favorite thing about the disaster genre is the moral questions that it raises in you and the way it forces you to think about what you would do. Have you heard any real-life stories during the process of this film that demonstrated to you how amazing or how horrible people can be?
OSVART: Not that I can recall something like this, not a major disaster that makes people turn into devils, but I have played, a few years ago, a woman who had a tough life and ended up killing her two children and I studied real people. I watched interviews with these mother assassins and I realized that you can’t really judge them because you don’t know what you would have done in those circumstances so you can’t tell how would you react if your husband was violent with you or your father and actually there is a point that you black out and you do something, you hurt the thing that you love the most because you want to hurt the husband or you want tot hurt the world, you want to take vendetta. So, yeah, I can imagine that these things bring out of us things that we don’t even know exist.
Do you have any projects coming up that you’re excited about?
OSVART: I’m shooting currently in Italy, so I am on the other side of the world at this moment, I’m shooting a film called Anita B. It’s a period movie directed by an Italian director in English and I’m playing a Hungarian woman after the Second World War. It’s based off a Hungarian novel actually, which I am very proud of. The producer is the Oscar nominated lady who did Life is Beautiful with Roberto Benigni. This is about a sixteen year old girl who survived the holocaust in the camps and the movie is about the two yeas when she reconstructs her own life and I’m playing her aunt basically she loses her parents and I’m going to raise her.