OUR INTERVIEW WITH CALLIE HERNANDEZ
By Crash redaction
Photo : Callie is wearing a Zana Bayne bra, Sies Marjan skirt and Creepy Yeha choker. © Jordan Hemingway
Following the runaway success of La La Land, the young Texan Callie Hernandez has emerged as one of the most promising actresses in the film industry. This year, we will see her on screen alongside Michael Fassbender and Katherine Waterson in Ridley Scott’s wildly anticipated Alien: Covenant, set to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.
Tell us about yourself, your journey, and where you come from…
I grew up in Texas for the most part. My dad is a holistic doctor. My mom is my best friend. I was a musician before I became conscious of the fact that I’d always wanted to be an actor. One of my closest friends was the music supervisor for Terrence Malick and asked me to come in on an audition for a very small part. I spent my first days on set sort of surrounded by cinematic heaven. The set felt like home. It was a very lucid feeling. I guess that’s why they use the term “dream” for these kinds of things.
How did you start acting and why?
I always knew I wanted to act. I use the term artist with more confidence these days because I wouldn’t know what other word to use – I am an artist. I’d gone down every other creative avenue and nothing felt quite like home. It’s something people don’t much talk about openly, but I think a lot of artists spend a good amount of time avoiding their art. All my friends were and still are for the most part musicians. I wasn’t privy to film. And, very suddenly, I hit a spot in life where I barely knew who I was, and just as suddenly I sort of admitted it to myself. That I was an actor. And so I just made the choice to learn everything I could about it.
Lately we saw you play in the much talked about and awarded La La Land… Were you expecting such a success out of it? What do you think the audience came away with after they watched it?
Yes, I did think people would like it. Damien is a fantastic director. It seemed like different audiences walked away each with very different opinions and feelings about the film. Some of my friends saw it over and over again. I know for my grandma, she had no idea what was going on.
Tell us about your upcoming projects for 2017: Endless written and directed by Justin Benson, Under The Silver Lake, written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, and last but not the least, the new Alien: Covenant, directed by Ridley Scott…
I feel beyond proud to have been a part of an Alien film. Sigourney Weaver made Alien, which holds such strong symbolism to me in terms of women’s empowerment.
Under the Silver Lake was my favorite film set to be a part of. It’s a hyper-visual, subconscious film. It’s like a lucid dream. The costumes, the actors, the set design: you could see it all even when just reading the script. I’d never gotten to read anything like it. And working on it felt akin to me. Like it’s where I live. I honestly can’t say much about either of the films themselves because I haven’t seen them yet.
How was it to work with a director like Ridley Scott? Tell us about your role more precisely and how he directed you during the filming?
Ridley is a visual director. Sometimes, he’d direct using a pen and paper to draw out the scene. I’d never worked with a director like that and may not ever again. I play a character named Upworth who is a communications officer on board the ship.
After Blair Witch in 2016 and those three new productions, you’re assembling a nice collection of dark and gloomy tales… Is it a genre you particularly like?
I would never want to consider myself a dark and gloomy person, but I am definitely more attracted to that kind of thing. I am more inclined to work on anything that acknowledges darkness. A certain kind of weight or darkness is somehow more organically portrayed in films and in music. It just feels more real to me. I don’t know why that is. Life is not a pop song. Horror, specifically, is more of a challenge for me because it tends to stray from that quality.
What do you think about fashion? It is a key point in cinema and an integral part of a character…
Sometimes fashion in film is nothing, sometimes it’s everything, sometimes it’s just distracting. Caroline Eselin was the costume designer for Under the Silver Lake and the costumes were absolutely central to the characters and to the film itself. I think about that hot pink mohair sweater in Wim Wenders’ film Paris, Texas. The wardrobe in El Topo made the film what it is. Costumes can be completely iconic. But then, I’ve played characters and I’ve watched films where the costumes were just a distraction from the central point of the story.
Aside from cinema, tell us about your other passions and inspirations…
I think I’m a “changer and a re-arranger.” I recently found out that my great-grandfather was a lion tamer in the circus. My great-grandmother was an opera singer and a painter. My grandparents now just moved back to Texas from living in the trailer park and working at Dolly Parton’s theme park, Dollywood. I think it’s in my blood. I become really enveloped in whatever it is I am doing at the time until it doesn’t feel right. Acting is the first thing that feels like a lifelong thing. It doesn’t feel like a choice. But I’ll always pursue other creative avenues at the same time. That doesn’t feel like a choice either.
Interview by Anna Ceravolo.