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Ana Ularu: The Wicked Witch of the West

I met Ana Ularu about three years ago, through a mutual friend. I wanted to pitch her my organization’s first project. I remember meeting her at Chocolat, in the Old Town – I was late as usual, but also super excited to meet this cool girl everyone around me kept talking about. Ana was waiting for me holding a big cup of coffee, which she dissed away for a few minutes when she saw me walking in. Her face suddenly change, showing a big warm smile which made me feel like I knew her for such a long time and this was just a reunion after years.

We have met along the way lots of times since then, and I don’t remember the last time Ana refused my calls or my collaboration proposals. So when the idea of having a news section on ADFR’s website came, I had no doubt she should be my first interviewee. As an actress, she is by far the most popular Romanian actress abroad, but as a human being, she’s so much more than that! So please, if you have the time,  take a moment to get to know Ana a bit better through this exclusive interview for our website.

1. Hi Ana! Firstly, thanks so much for taking your time to answer our questions, I know you’re doing a lot of stuff lately and time might not be your best friend right now. I’ll just start by asking you about NBC’s new series “Emerald City”. I know you’ve got a pretty important role – The Wicked With of the West. How have you managed to audition for this part and how did it go?

The first audition was self taped – which, usually, I do it myself, but for this one I was lucky to have a friend of mine around, with a pretty good camera. I was in Budapest at that time, filming for Ron Howard’s latest film, Inferno. Luckily, I convinced them enough to ask me for a second self tape, which I’ve recorded myself back in Bucharest. What’s amazing is that I was way over my head when I did the auditions: the first time with Ron’s movie, and the second time with the premiere of Andrei Serban’s new play “Carousel”. I’m extremely happy I had the power to concentrate deeply on each task I had and win this role that I totally love.

2. I’m super excited about this new series, especially because it’s my kind of TV show, but also because you’re starring in it and the way I see it, it seems this part was written for you. How much does West mean to you and how difficult was to get to know her?

I liked how she was portrayed from the script. The way the character is build up, with a bit of humor, in a dark way but also in a delicate manner. I did a lot of research and developed a world in which she was my center piece, and while building this whole world of me and her, I was doing costume checks with Trisha Biggar, which helped me give West a personal touch and understand her better. I used to talk to Trisha during fittings about West’s decadent elegance, and her toxic sex-appeal. And all this time, I read a lot – each character has its bibliography.

3. You’ve worked on dozens of films, both national and international productions, with directors such as Stere Gulea, Bogdan Apetri, Susanne Bier, or Francis Coppola. Have you noticed any major differences in the style of work of the industries? Is there anything Romanian filmmakers should learn from foreign ones?

I don’t know if “differences” is the right word for it. Each film crew has its own authentic style. However, what I like about productions “outside Romania” is the coolness combined with the respect shown to everyone on set, especially actors. And to the set itself.

4. Now that you have experienced working for a series – a type of film production that seems to be growing in Romania too, what do you think are the benefits of an actor working for a series?

The time you have to work on a character: how profoundly can you get to know it, with all of its subtleties; what makes him/her act in varies ways, the real motif behind each action. This is definitely one of the big advantages.

5. Did West get any feedback? Especially from the Romanian audience?

West seems to be liked, and that’s something that makes me truly happy.

6. I know that you also practice a lot of theatre acting – you actually seem to play more in theatre plays in Romania, than films. Every time I see you on stage, you seem to live every moment to its fullest.

I simply love theatre so much and I think it is essentially important to exercise your acting on stage. I can’t imagine my life without theatre, I would feel cut in half: the adrenaline, the chills after the fight, the concentrated mind and being nervous…

And if we are talking about theatre, could you give our readers some references? On both films and theatre plays.

For plays to watch, I would say:

An intervention, Act Theatre (I love my play and I promote it as much as I can)
The lost year. 1989, Little Theatre (Teatrul Mic)
The Pillow Man, Act Theatre

Personally, I would go to any play directed by Geanina Carbunariu or Radu Iacoban, and mostly any young director. At least for understanding how the society is portrayed these days.

And films:

One More Time With a Feeling
Anomalisa
The Proposition

7. What do you wish for Romanian cinema?

Bravery and more creativity.

8. What are your projects right now?

Jaume Balaguero’s Muse film and some theatre plays

9. And last, but not least, how was “The Script Contest” experience for you? Do you think it could help the screenwriter’s local community develop in time, and maybe the industry also?

The Script Contest was an excellent step forward. A platform that brings ahead new types of cinema, which is essential for filmmakers outside the system. In time, with lots of patience, the platform could form new brave artists.

Interview by Laura Mușat

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