Noticed in Grave by Julia Ducournau, the discreet Franco-Swiss actress continues filming series and cinema, and will be on the poster this summer for the whimsical Area(s) of turbulence, an Icelandic film about the phobia of flying. A project that resonates with her adventurous temperament.
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Born of a French mother and a Swiss father, who met in philosophy class at Paris-Sorbonne University, she grew up in Zürich, in German-speaking Switzerland. As a child, she spent her summers in Vitry-sur-Seine.
She has fond memories of the seven-hour journey, by night train, crossing the border at Basel: “Seeing the customs officers walking in the dark with their dog frightened me a little. These trips also gave me a political conscience because I could see that the authorities were always searching racialized people.”
In Switzerland, his mother takes him every year to the demonstration of the 1er may. “She said it had nothing to do with the major French mobilizations.” Ella quickly feels that the country is “too small and too closed” to plan an acting career there.
After playing in a first film directed by a compatriot, she left for London at the age of 17 to take acting lessons, then shot a German film and captivated the public as a young cannibal girl in Severe by Julia Ducournau.
During filming, she lived in Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, Prague, Sarajevo, and spent eight months in Tokyo for the series tokyo vice. In the midst of the Covid epidemic, she discovers the Japanese capital by bicycle, to avoid catching the virus and jeopardizing the series.
She has a memorable memory of her workplace, the Toho studios where Akira Kurosawa designed The Seven Samurai. “Before filming began, the crew gathered to thank the gods. In Japan, we don’t pray to ask for a favor, but to say thank you.”
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In May 2023, she took advantage of the Cannes presentation of the film Marguerite’s theorem of the Franco-Swedish Anna Novion, where she plays a brilliant student in mathematics, to see as many films as possible. His favourite: rising by Lillah Halla, a Brazilian thriller on illegal abortion, at La Semaine de la Critique.
She has a particular interest in going to the cinema: in Paris, she frequents Le Brady, the UGC Ciné Cité Les Halles and La Filmothèque du Quartier Latin. In Zurich, the Kino Xenix and the Riffraff.
In the whimsical Icelandic thriller Area(s) of turbulence, she embodies an influencer who accompanies her fiancé on a flight fear management course. “I liked working in a register that came out of hyper naturalism even if I was sometimes afraid of bordering on caricature.” To get to the set in northern Iceland, she takes a small ten-seater plane from Reykjavik and flies over the area of a crash that took place that morning.
She likes to do things at her own pace without getting overwhelmed by the fast-paced world around her. “I’m not a very fast person. I feel slower than the others, I need time to understand things and that suits me very well. I don’t have my driver’s license, and I easily lets me daydream.”
She regularly goes to recharge her batteries in nature, near a forest or at the foot of the mountains. “This allows us to put into perspective problems that seem to us to be super important.”
Recently, she went for the first time to the Creux-du-Van, an impressive rocky cirque almost a kilometer and a half wide and two hundred meters high, in the Jura massif, which is also the cradle of watchmaking, in Switzerland. “It’s beautiful like a canyon.”
Fear of flying: how to free yourself from your phobia?
Zone(s) of turbulence, by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson, also with Timothy Spall, Emun Elliott…
This portrait was originally published in Marie Claire issue 852, dated September 2023.