Recently she starred in the new Roel Reine movie Seal Team 8: Behind Enemy Lines.
Aurelie sat down with The Action Elite to discuss working on the film and what she has coming up.
You play Zoe Jelani in the new Behind Enemy Lines Film: Seal Team Eight. What was it about Zoe that you particularly identiﬁed with and how did you get involved with the project?
I worked with Roel Reiné on his ﬁrst feature ﬁlm “The Delivery”, which was shot in Europe. Later, when I moved to Los Angeles, we reconnected. One day he called me to ask if I would audition for a role in his next movie, it was for Zoe. Of course I said yes! I was very excited to play a villain, and with Zoe there were so many layers between what she’s saying and what she’s actually doing. She was a really interesting character. She’s a leader, a strong woman, surrounded by men, in a tough country, ﬁghting for her goals, although I’m not sharing her ethics lol. I was interested in how I would ﬁnd a bridge to connect with her crazy ideals. Also I loved the idea of a physically small woman completely “playing” all these imposing, highly trained guys!
Is there any of your own personality in Zoe?
If you take out the evil bit (lol), I would say Zoe is very determined, courageous, she likes to be in control, I can totally see myself in there!
What do you look for in a character when you receive a script?
Something that resonates with me. Something new, different, with an arc, a range of emotions. It’s great to read a script for a role you haven’t already played before. I especially like when there’s something emotionally or physically challenging about the role. When I read a role, if I’m a bit scared, it feels right.
We’re big fans of Director Roel Reine; what’s the atmosphere like on set and were you encouraged to provide your own insight into the process?
I’m a big fan of Roel too! He’s a pleasure to work with. Having done three ﬁlms with him, my experience is the atmosphere on set is relaxed but extremely focused. Although he knows exactly what he wants from a scene, he’ll always let you experiment, play with the lines or make suggestions, and if he likes it he will adopt it! Among all the intense action scenes on Seal Team Eight he always took the time to talk to each actor individually. He’s loyal, he likes to work with the same people whenever possible, he trusts his team and that makes you feel good.
Following on from that; how involved do you like to be in the ﬁlmmaking process in general? As in, do you like to make suggestions as to how a scene could be better/different?
There’s only one director on set and I like to trust him/her. But if I have something in mind or think something feels wrong I’ll deﬁnitely chat about it and share my thoughts and point of view. On Seal Team Eight, we had some table readings and rehearsals with Roel so there was an open space to suggest and talk about ideas and remodelling lines. Would you be interested in directing some day? It’s something I’ve been thinking about. In time, with the right material and enough self conﬁdence, it’s deﬁnitely something I will challenge myself with.
Did you have to undergo any physical or weapons training for this movie?
Oh yes! Although I workout daily, and personally did boxing training before getting the part, we had bootcamp training before ﬁlming started. We would begin early morning before breakfast with insane physical training exercises, such as racing uphill with a tire attached to the waist! Then some tactical training, formations in the ﬁeld and ﬁnish the day off with some ﬁght rehearsals and hand to hand combat techniques. It was intense and fun and deﬁnitely helped in creating bonds between the actors. The stunt people and specialists training us were amazing.
The weapon training was very exciting, and although I’m not necessarily a gun person but shooting an AK-47 was so much fun! The actors playing the Seals were a bit envious lol. They were also always concerned about where I was positioned because the blast was so strong that during those balletic scenes where so many weapons were simultaneously ﬁred we had to be extremely precise and cautious.
What was the biggest challenge you faced?
Probably in the scene where I had to jump into a freezing lake at the crack of dawn which had Hippos in it! (lol) I also had to deal with a knee injury a week before wrapping the ﬁlm. I was lucky to have the amazing Brenda Firmani (my stunt double) helping me with some of the more difﬁcult physical moves. Oh and having my wallet stolen from the training camp by wild baboons! True story!
You’re working with Roel again on Admiral, due out in 2015. Can you tell us about that?
Admiral, is a big period piece ﬁlm about Michiel de Ruyter, an historical Dutch ﬁgure. We shot in the Netherlands. After the experience with “The Delivery”, it was great to be back there with Roel. I play Louise who is part of the court of Louis XIV and also the mistress of King Charles II of England. I had the pleasure to work opposite the wonderful Charles Dance. It took me a little while to forget him as Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones!
What else do you have coming up?
I’ve just ﬁnished shooting a very promising short ﬁlm, directed by Marem Hassler, it’s called Mute. I play Natalie, a woman who has Misophonia (a condition where the sufferer has a hatred of sound) and who’s struggling to get her daughter back. There are some very tough scenes in it. I’m also working on the production of my own webseries, a comedy. The ﬁlming is set to start early 2015.
Thanks very much for chatting with us and all the best with your upcoming movies.
It was my pleasure, Thank