“I have found that in Italy journalists ask much more poetic questions than Norwegian ones. Just how you structure the question. It’s nice!“: Renate Reinsve, star of The worst person in the world, film by Joachim Trier presented in competition at the Cannes Film Festival 2021, where the actress was awarded as best protagonist.
In cinemas from November 18, distributed by Teodora Film, The Worst Person in the World tells the story Julie, a woman enrolled in Medicine who is too busy living life to understand what she wants to do when she grows up. Then move on to photography, writing, change parties and boyfriends. Up to the most important, Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie), cartoonist older than her with whom she goes to live.
Free, contradictory, Julie is one of the most interesting and engaging female characters seen in the cinema in recent years. It is no coincidence that it is interpreted Renate Reinsve: contagious smile and intelligent eyes, the new star of European cinema. Fashion has already noticed it, and is now competing to have it as a testimonial (for now Louis Vuitton has won). The worst person in the world is an excellent generational portrait, made of unease and uncertainty, but it should also be seen only for the interpretation of the actress. We met her in Rome, where she presented the film at Nanni Moretti’s Sacher cinema.
The worst person in the world and the freedom of art
Let’s start with a sentence in the film: in which it is said that art should be able to be unpleasant. Agree?
I think it’s important that it’s also unpleasant. It is a space where you can also show the ugly, the taboos and play with them. If we didn’t have this space it would hurt us not to talk about it and suppress these things. We need to be able to discuss and talk about everything. Otherwise I think society would be very polarized. Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are sounding chambers: people keep seeing the same things over and over according to the algorithm. And at the same time we divide more and more. The scene on the radio is a perfect example: two post feminists collide with a cartoonist who draws strong drawings. It is right that they confront each other on those issues.
The worst person in the world, the review: imperfect pages of a beautiful diary
The worst person in the world: building Julie
Who were you inspired by to play Julie?
I was inspired by a boy! Timothée Chalamet in Call me by your name. He manages to get to deep emotions but with lightness. He has a sense of humor but also manages to master emotions very well. From the script I realized that Julie would explore very different moods. I wanted it to look natural and easy: Timothée Chalamet succeeds. So I watched that movie an infinite number of times, to study his work. Plus the script was so good that it was a constant source of inspiration. Each scene gave me emotional material. Tell us what it means to be human. Instead, the director’s point of reference was Me and Annie: Julie is also a messy, careless, funny woman.[display-posts orderby="rand"]
Can we say that she is a free woman in her chaos?
Yes, I am too. I think it’s hard to understand the times you live in while you live there, but I think Joachim asked himself the right questions. He wrote the screenplay asking questions and without giving answers, but adding others. Together we talked about many themes: Julie is full of contradictions, she feels many different emotions at the same time, in a chaotic way. She does not know what choices to make in life, so she is distant from herself, but at the same time she is well anchored in the present moment. Which is a big contradiction.
You said understanding the times we live in is difficult. What idea have you got?
It is a complex age: we are exposed to an incredible amount of information 24 hours a day. We constantly ask ourselves what is true. When I was little I had history books at school and they were indisputable: that was the truth. Times have changed, now we have the internet, books are updated continuously. The new generations are constantly asking themselves what the truth is, because thanks to social media they are exposed to many stimuli. But social media are also a market, now you have to make yourself a brand, sell yourself. But they are still called “social”: it is confusing. Not everyone has this privilege, but today it is easier to change profession and career, studies, partners. All this makes it more difficult to understand who we are, what we want to do in life. Because of this, people often feel very restless. It is a problem for the privileged to have difficulty in the face of all these possibilities, but I think we should still talk about it.
The Italian title of the film is “The worst person in the world”: in your opinion is it really?
She feels this way: she is not happy with who she is, with what she did to other people, when she left her companions. I think at some point in our life we all felt like the worst person in the world.
The worst person in the world is sex
It is very interesting that in this film we talk about sex and motherhood so explicitly. Why do you think, in 2021, talking about these issues naturally in the cinema is still shocking?
It is very important to talk about it. I think many girls are ashamed of their sexuality, instead it should be a source of freedom and fun. Julie’s character is comfortable with her sexuality, she is free. It was a fundamental thing for the director and for me: in that context she does not experience drama, she is very free. Of course in real life it’s more complicated, but I think it’s great to see a character who isn’t ashamed of everything about sex.
Renate Reinsveen: a star is born
In the film Julie tells Alex that for him being strong means coming up with theories. What does it mean to you to be strong?
It was nice to be provoked by the script. It was immediately clear to me that the strong one was Aksel. He manages to express everything he tries in words, to classify it. Julie, on the other hand, is trying to figure out what she believes in. He’s vulnerable, he doesn’t know the answers. She feels that something is making her uncomfortable but she can’t tell what it is. But I think she is in an interesting position: if you try to ignore your weakness, deluding yourself into being strong, you can’t really understand who you are in life.
How has your life changed after your victory in Cannes?
All my life I have been wearing used clothes and now after Cannes they give me the clothes! I met Nicolas Ghesquière, creative director of Louis Vuitton, we talked about the new collection, I will be one of the new testimonials. He is an artist. Now I know that fashion is something else that goes deep: it’s like wearing art. I love to collaborate with brands. Of course, I would like to try to wear sustainable clothes again. Another thing that has changed is the ability to meet producers and casting directors. I have been able to talk to actresses who have inspired me all my life. It’s surreal and crazy.