Becoming Alba August

by Tina Jøhnk Christensen November 20, 2018
Actress Alba August

sebastian reuter/getty images

Alba August belongs to Scandinavian film royalty as the daughter of Danish director Bille August and Swedish actress Pernilla August. But the 25-year-old actress is becoming a star in her own right and is currently to be seen in the TV series The Rain and Pernille Fischer Christensen’s Becoming Astrid, the biopic of iconic Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. In 2018, August won the European Shooting Stars award at the Berlin Film Festival and we believe we have a star in the making.

Astrid Lindgren is world famous but also one of the most beloved people in Sweden. What were the challenges of portraying Astrid Lindgren in Becoming Astrid?

When I got the part, I had mixed feelings – it’s a dream role to be offered. She’s so complex, so sensitive, intelligent, brave, humoristic, and in the script, there are so many different states of mind you get to portray – so of course, I was so excited and happy, but I was also seriously frightened. Not everybody gets to portrait the biggest artist in Scandinavia, so how do you take care of that chance?

Did it matter to you that the director was a woman? Do you sense a difference in the approach when a woman is behind the camera?

Perhaps it can be easier for a woman to put herself in another woman’s situation. In this case, Pernille’s storytelling is in many ways close to Astrid’s. Pernille can see the complexity in different characters, she has the same sensitivity and bravery as Astrid Lindgren, and I think that was very important for this story. There are no good or bad people in Pernille’s eyes. There´s always a reason why people do what they do. Both Astrid and Pernille know how to explain this to the audience. I guess you should write about characters you can relate to. I sometimes experience that young female characters written by men have a lack of deepness and layers, which is necessary to make a character truthful. I guess the same thing would happen if I wrote a story about a 50-year-old man.

Can you speak about your experience shooting the TV series The Rain? Were you surprised that it has become a big hit on Netflix?

My adventure with The Rain happened so fast. I got the part, and a few weeks later we started shooting, and suddenly it was on Netflix. I never had the time to make expectations or realizing what I was doing. The show has a lot of fans all over the world, and that’s really crazy, and I feel so blessed and proud to be a part of such a big success! What I really like about the project was to get to play with other youths, and to be in this post-apocalyptic universe. I was really curious about going into a TV show, where you shoot for a very long time, and you’re with the same people all the time. And that’s what I love and hate about it. It’s like school, you get frustrated and you get tired of it, but at the same time, only in these long projects you can be creative in an environment where everybody trusts each other, and where you’re always allowed to make mistakes in front of the camera, just because we know each other so well, and that’s what I love about it.

You portray Simone Andersen and she is a strong female heroine. What attracted you to the role and did you relate to her? Would you be strong in a crises situation like that?

First time I read the script, I couldn’t help myself and called my agent immediately! I thought Simone was the coolest woman on earth, a Katniss Everdeen kind of character, the superhero I always wanted to play! Simone is a fighter, she takes a lot of responsibility, she’s the one who has all the solutions, and the one who tells the others: ”we can do this”. I would say I’m a fighter as well, but a lot more sensitive than Simone. The situations she’s exposed to would scare the shit out of me and I would be constantly stressed. But I’m positive like Simone, even in this universe where the world is falling apart, I would try to find love, and I would try to find moments for laughs. It’s impossible though, to try to imagine what you would do if life was about surviving. Would you kill to save the ones you love? I cannot tell…

Scenes from Becoming Astrid and Rain

As Astrid Lindgren in a scene from Becoming Astrid, and as Simone Andersen on the set of The Rain.

dcm film/netflix

 

You grew up with very creative parents. Did you always know that you wanted to be an actress? Or did you at one point want to rebel?

I always knew that I loved performing and that I loved to entertain and get a reaction from an audience. My sister and I have been performing in different ways, delivering speeches, dancing, acting, everything you can think of, since forever. As soon as we had guests in the house, we had rehearsed something we wanted to show. I’ve also been very interested in human behavior, as long as I can remember. I always tried to understand why people were the way they were, and always tried to put myself in their position. I always loved imitating people. But did I know that this was going be my profession? No, I didn’t.

Do you feel Danish or Swedish?

I’m in a phase, where I’m trying to find out where I belong. I think that I like the Swedish me better.  But at the same time, Copenhagen is the best place on Earth. I love the city and everything about it. If you could just move all the Swedish people to Copenhagen, that would be perfect. I guess I will always have a foot in each country.

What are your goals for the future, career-wise?

Never say out loud what your dreams are. If I said that my goal was to be in Lars Von Trier’s next movie, this would for sure never happen. At least that’s what I think. But I have a few exciting projects I hopefully will be doing next year, and they will hopefully lead me to new exciting places and adventures. At the moment I’m in a very curious and brave state of mind, where I feel open and ready for everything, so I better embrace and take care of that!

Which directors would you like to work with?

Some of my favorite cinematic experiences have been: Victoria (Sebastian Schipper), Fucking Åmål (Lukas Moodysson), Skam (Julia Andem), The Hours (Stephen Daldry), Transparent (Jill Soloway). So, in my wildest dreams, I would say one of the geniuses behind one of these masterpieces!