It has been two years since I last spoke to Actress Lara Heller for The Hype Magazine. We discussed her film Synth, which is a story that unfolds in the world of artificial intelligence.
True events inspired the film; Hanson Robotics in Hong Kong created a robot called Sophia. The A.I was created based on Audrey Hepburn’s face. Sophia is the first robot to have citizenship in the world. As a figure skater, we also discussed her days and how it has shaped her as an adult.
This time around, we discussed Lara Heller’s latest movie, Stardust, a part-fictionalized account of David Bowie’s stardom with the actor and musician Johnny Flynn. Stardust explores the period responsible for launching Bowie’s career.
Check out the full interview below.
Could you tell us a little about your latest film, Stardust, and your character Jemima?
Lara Heller: It’s a film about a brief moment in the life of David Bowie. I was excited to join this project because Gabriel (Range) and Christopher’s (Bell) script explores a time before Bowie’s transformation into Ziggy Stardust. He had his first record hit Space Oddity and was exploring his identity as an artist. Johnny (Flynn) was perfect for so many reasons including the fact that he’s a singer!
I play Jemima a psychiatrist who works with David Bowie’s brother Terry who had schizophrenia. A lot of the fears that Bowie had about this condition were translated into his music. Bowie’s relationship with his Terry, shaped his career and influenced his creation of Ziggy Stardust.
This was my first time shooting a film set in the 1970’s. The fashion and style really helped bring me into the world. It was such a glamorous period and there were so many statement pieces from the time like the midi skirts, boots that hooked up the front and bell bottom trousers. It was great fun to explore that era.
How long has this film been in the works?
Lara Heller: The film has been in development for a number of years. Our director and writer, Gabriel Range worked closely with writer Christopher Bell and Salon Pictures to bring this all to life.
The last time we spoke, you were preparing to release your AI film SYNTH. Can you give us an update on the project?
Lara Heller: SYNTH looks at AI rights and was inspired by the first robot in the world to receive citizenship. Our film explores a world where A.I. rights could be on par with human rights. We just finished the festival circuit…it was wonderful to receive the reception that we did from festivals during this lockdown period. We screened remotely in Venice, Sydney, and Los Angeles and were delighted to win at festivals like the New York and Florence Film Awards. The artistic directors did a great job creating online Zoom communities to showcase work and connect filmmakers.
Besides working on projects, how have you been able to occupy yourself during the pandemic?
Lara Heller: I spent most of last year living outside of the city. It was an opportunity to get close to nature and the outdoors, which really helped in a time of uncertainty. I was able to draw strength from the beauty of the forest nearby and seeing animals every day. My friends and I did weekly zoom calls, which meant so much, and I wrote and read a lot.
Lara Heller: You play the role of Lea in the latest series of The Family Business. What is the show about?
Lara Heller: The Family Business is an American crime family drama. It was created by Carl Weber and it is based on his crime books series. It was wonderful to be back on set with such passionate people. I’ve filmed a couple of movies with the team before and it was lovely to see them all again.
How has the shooting process been with COVID protocols?
Everyone lived in quarantine together while shooting throughout the pandemic, and the team did an incredible job keeping everyone safe.
What was it like working with director Trey Haley and Steven Williams?
Lara Heller: Trey and I worked on Throwback Holiday (2018) and Always a Bridesmaid (2019) in LA. He is such an immense fan of film and filmmakers, and he creates a really happy environment on set for us. He is constantly trying to challenge us all and what I love most about working together is those moments that happen accidentally. He is open to everything and is great at capturing human behavior. It’s always an adventure shooting together.