And here we are again, Scariest Readers! If you’re joining us for the first time today, this post marks the end of our Scariest Interview Series focussing on Andrew Desmond’s Gothic tale of music and madness, The Sonata (2019). In part one, we sat down with co-writer/director Andrew Desmond himself. In part two, we got to pull back the Movie Magic curtain even farther and found producer Laurent Fumeron hard at work.
So file this under “last, but definitely not least” as today, in the third and final part of our interview series, all of our
begging and pleading respectful persistence has paid off. We’ve been given a chance to chat with the actor who plays the lead role of violinist Rose Fisher in the Lovecraft-esque spookfest, The Sonata. None other than Hemlock Grove (2013) alum, Freya Tingley!
Firstly, a big thank you to Freya for spending some time with us today! Here we go…
Who are your acting inspirations?
I love actors who completely transform into different characters with every role but do it with such reality and make it so grounded and believable that it feels like they really are that person. My favorite actors are Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Daniel Day-Lewis, Dustin Hoffman and more recently Riley Keough.
In general, how do you go about finding & choosing a project to work on? Was there anything different with The Sonata?
At this stage in my career I’m open to all different kinds of projects. However, I’m particularly drawn to characters that have been fleshed out by their creator and aren’t just archetypes.
I felt Rose was unlike other characters I’ve read before – she had depth and that intrigued me. I also LOVE working with filmmakers with an auteur vision. Directors who know what they want visually when they get to the set and are also incredibly passionate about movies and film making and Andrew is definitely that!
You’ve done a lot of work in television with Hemlock Grove (2013-2015), Once Upon a Time (2011-2018), etc. How does working on movies differ from that and do you have a preference?
One of the main differences between the shows I’ve worked on and the movies I’ve done is that TV shows tend to have multiple different directors, while movies – hopefully – just have one (or two in some cases).
As an actor there isn’t so much of a difference between working in TV or film but I prefer the outcome of movies more. Because they have the possibility of being carried out by a director with a singular vision there’s the potential for more individualism and style.
Also, with the shorter duration of movies there’s more replay value and therefore the fact that great works can become easily immortalized for people to appreciate decades from now and I love that!!
What was your most difficult day of shooting on The Sonata?
One day we had to do stunts and that was a particularly tough day. With having a petite frame, being thrown around can be more aggressive on my body than it would be for someone a lot taller. There’s also the challenge of having to make it seem like you’re really being dragged through the wringer while also keeping an eye out for your own safety.
I understand you took violin lessons in preparation for your role as Rose Fisher. How long did you study and do you think that’ll be something you continue?
I trained for three months prior to shooting and really fell in love with the violin. I would love to play an instrument. I’m not sure it would be violin as it takes hours and hours of time and commitment, though I would love to learn to play piano maybe. I took piano, saxophone, and drums lessons when I was younger but was never passionate about it like I was about acting.
Speaking of your newfound violin expertise… when filming scenes of Rose playing music, were you actually playing music or were you torturing the crew with violin noise that looked good on camera?
The funny thing about learning the violin is that there really isn’t a way to fake it. Because the technical skill is so particular and exact, if you want to look like you can play violin, you really actually have to be able to make the proper sound a violin should make. The wrong sound means you’re not doing something right and therefore it doesn’t look right.
There’s an exact pressure that has to be applied so that the bow doesn’t slip. You have to hold your fingers in the right position so there’s an ease to the movements of the bow. And on top of that, there’s coordinating all that with the fingering hand.
I actually had to learn all the music Rose plays in the movie with my bow arm and we left out my fingering hand — thank God! My wonderful violin double Alina Vasiljeva is very talented and played beautifully on my behalf.
Did you already speak French or did you learn that for the film as well?
I took French lessons in school but never paid attention so I don’t know any French really. The scene where I speak French is with Simon Abkarian’s wife, Catherine, and she really helped me off camera to understand and practice the lines.
Did you have much input in making Rose who she was in the film? How much of your own personality is in Rose?
I love reading a script with a definitive character and hopping into those shoes and playing that role. I add in my own creative ideas about who she is because there is only so much on a page, but I don’t try to morph the character into somebody the writer didn’t write.
The joy for me in acting is playing somebody with a completely different identity and so in that sense I never bring my own personality to a role.
Now that you’ve conquered Gothic horror, what’s next for Freya Tingley?
I’ve been really lucky to have worked with some really talented up and coming filmmakers and I’d love to continue doing that. Some up and coming filmmakers I aspire to work with include Ari Aster, Robert Eggers, Damien Chazelle, and Cory Finley.
I think we have a real force of really special upcoming filmmakers; more than we’ve had in a long time and I think that makes it a really exciting time for indie film. I would also love to venture into directing. I love movies and have learnt a lot from the directors I’ve worked with and would love to tell my own stories.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
I can’t wait for you all to see The Sonata!!
Lastly, a bonus question for extra credit… Given that The Sonata was one of the last films for genre legend Rutger Hauer, do you have any stories or anecdotes you’d like to share?
Although Rutger and I didn’t get to act in any scenes together, we did grab lunch in the Latvian countryside. He was a really interesting character; very charming in a cheeky way and he had a lot of stories to tell about his life. I enjoyed my brief time talking to him and am happy that his legacy lives on in his movies.
Oh, just grabbing lunch in the Latvian countryside with Rutger Hauer. You know, the usual… Heh. Wow! We’re glad (and maybe a little jealous) that you got to hang out with him a bit. What a fun opportunity and thank you for sharing it with us.
And with that we’ve wrapped up our very first Scariest Interview Series. Thanks, again, to The Sonata folks — Andrew, Laurent, and Freya — for taking time out of their busy festival schedules to chat with us about their new movie, their futures, and movie making in general.
Also, a big “thanks!” to all of our Scariest Readers, too, for sticking with the series and joining us as we learned a bit more about the inner workings of the film industry. We hope you found it as entertaining as we did!
Interview by Robert Zilbauer.