ANNA RUST | INTERVIEW
This London-based actor has enjoyed roles in productions including Carnival Row and Ophelia; you may have even seen her likeness in one of the most talked about video games of recent years. She discusses matters of upbringing, representation and lockdown with Carl Marsh.
It’s been a tough time for us all, not just the film industry, but you directed and acted in a short film that was shot entirely during lockdown.
Satiety, my first film as a director/actor/writer – which will be coming out later this year.
Making it must have been challenging.
It was challenging, for sure – many of the sets I had planned to use became a no-go during the first lockdown – but honestly, it was such a gift. I can’t stress how fortunate I was to have something like my short film to focus on, creatively, when it felt like we were losing everything. I’m a firm believer in the power of the arts, especially during times like these.
What advice can you give to others in your industry who might need that push to make something, and think outside the box?
Ooh! I love that question. I’d say, if you’re watching a lot of film or TV and you feel like there’s a story that hasn’t been told yet, or you think you could tell one that is better, more personal, more intimate – go do it. There’s nothing in the world stopping you, and at the end of the day, what’s the fear in failing? If you fail, no one sees it. So what? Dust yourself off, and make something else. Don’t be afraid to make trash, because if you’re scared to make trash, you’ll never make anything.
And what motivated you to not just sit on your arse waiting for this all to end?
My mental health. Ha! I really find it hard to do nothing, so I’m always looking for ways to create, express, and further my career. It’s addictive. I’m in an unhealthy relationship with my industry.
Your upbringing saw you grow up in various parts of the world – how did you cope with having to make new friends and contacts?
It was more positive than negative, for sure. It wasn’t easy continually saying goodbye to friends and making new ones, but growing up with such an international group of students was not only wonderful in terms of opening my mind but has meant that I now have friends all over the world.
Would you say this gave you the confidence to choose acting, first as a hobby and then a career?
It pushed me to move back to London when I turned 18. It wasn’t easy to pursue a career in some of the countries I lived in when I was younger, e.g. Ukraine, but it gave me the confidence to move countries on my own at that age since I’d done it so much as a kid. Any life experiences you go through as a person are useful as an actor, so my upbringing helped.
Apart from screen roles such as Carnival Row [above], Legends and Ophelia, you’ve been in some big video games over the last few years – Cyberpunk 2077, Battlefield V, Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers. Which do you prefer? Are you much of a gamer?
Yes! I love both. They’re very different, but it’s great to get to do both, without having to choose. I’m absolutely a gamer! I – embarrassingly – have a PS5, my old PS4 and a Switch.
You’re an LGBTQIA+ actor in what now seems to be an ever-increasingly representative TV and film industry.
It’s great to see more stories being told, but I would love to see more films and TV shows that feature a healthy example of an LGBTQIA+ relationship – too many end in despair, going back to the straight partner, or death/suicide, which paints an unrealistic and possibly harmful picture. And I hope that with that change, we’ll see more LGBTQIA+ actors step into those roles.
Why do you think it’s taken so long for the industry to become like it is now?
At its core, it’s a business. If the higher-ups believe a movie about a black, LGBTQIA+ woman won’t sell, they won’t fund it. Luckily, we see more and more that that’s not the case, so the trend is definitely shifting for the better. But I’m hopeful it will continue to improve, especially in the realm of disability representation.
words CARL MARSH photos LAURENS GRISEL / Carnival Row © AMAZON PRIME VIDEO