Named one of Unifrance’s 10 Talents to Watch for 2023, rising star Nadia Tereszkiewicz is set to breakout.
After stepping onto the international stage thanks to her work in Monia Chokri and Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi’s 2022 Sundance and Cannes titles “Babysitter” and “Forever Young,” the Franco-Finnish actor will next step into the spotlight, hitting the French award circuit for “Forever Young” while promoting Francois Ozon’s “The Crime Is Mine” – a starry showbiz caper that places Tereszkiewicz front and center.
And given the performer’s upcoming lead roles in Stephanie Di Giusto’s “La Rosalie” and Robin Campillo’s “Vazaha, The Strangers,” a number of repeat festival visits seem more than likely. Variety spoke with the actress as part the Unifrance Rendez-Vous in Paris.
How did you get into filmmaking?
I trained as a dancer, and for a long time I wanted to make that my profession. Later, I studied literature, and decided to become a French teacher. When I discovered theater, I found it linked words and body, that it could connect dance with literature. I had my first screen role as an extra in [Stephanie Di Giusto’s 2016 Loïe Fuller biopic] “The Dancer.” It was a period film, set in the early 20th century, full of crazy sets and costumes, and with a story that blew me away. I immediately fell in love with cinema, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about screen acting. After shooting Dennis Berry’s “Wild” over the course of two months in Portugal with just one other co-star, I came to love acting as well.
Dance is still a key to your process, it is not?
Every actor approaches the job differently, and I do so through my body. It’s exciting to establish a physicality, either to subvert gender clichés, as in Monia Chokri’s “Babysitter,” or to impart a sense of permanent malaise, as in [the upcoming film “La Rosalie”], or to exhibit a sense of total freedom and abandonment, as in “Forever Young.” As women, we carry all of those elements within us, so these are all little versions of me that I can explore for the role.
I admire great actresses like Gena Rowlands, whose body speaks with its every movement, and Marion Cotillard, who takes a very physical approach. I find that important in cinema, because that’s where the work is most exciting: You have this text, this world, and this body you can use to bring your character to life.
You mentioned “La Rosalie,” which is now your second film with director Stephanie Di Giusto. How did that come about?
When I shot with Stephanie in 2015, I was still pursuing literary studies. I had just arrived in Paris and knew nothing about film. I passed some auditions, and shot for a few days as a background dancer. After that I never heard from her again. And then, two years ago, I was walking in the street, masked-up during COVID, and she recognized me! She found I had changed, and asked if we could should do some tests for her new film. It was so improbable! It felt like a sign, like destiny.
What can you share about the project?
It’s probably my most physical role to date! The film is inspired by Clementine Delait, the first bearded woman. Only very loosely inspired, because it’s not a biopic. My character runs a bar with her husband, played by Benoit Magimel, and the film is kind of a love story. It questions desire and acceptance, it considers the place of women in society, and asks what defines us as women. It’s a film about difference, and the script overwhelmed me.
You’re also starring in Robin Campillo’s “Vazaha, The Strangers.” What can you tell us about one of the most anticipated French films of the year?
It takes place on a French air base in Madagascar at the end of the 60s. “Vazaha” means “the whites,” and the film is about the end of an era, the last years of this period of carefree colonialism. And as a result, the soldiers’ lives in this colonialist world are coming to an end. It is a moment that Robin himself lived – even if the film is not pure autobiography. The film is a really sensory experience, because Robin worked to reimagine this period through the eyes of a child, exploring his impressions and sensations. How does a boy perceive his childhood in these conditions? How does he view his mother?
And you play the mother?
Yes. Her name is Colette, and she had three kids at a young age. She’s a housewife, always a bit downcast, or least quiet and reserved. Spanish star Quim Gutiérrez plays the father. I have yet to see the film, so I can only go by my feelings from the shoot. Robin’s direction was so sensorial and creative; it was a really artistic experience.
And after all that, what comes next?
I have a few projects lined up, but I’ve been working so hard that I need to take some time to experience things on my own. You can’t just shoot and shoot and not experience your personal life. As a result, I don’t throw myself toward projects. I need to fall in love with them. I am going to shoot a project in Chile this summer, and I definitely fell in love with that one. For now, I’ve been reading a lot, looking forward, promoting “The Crime Is Mine,” travelling, meeting other filmmakers. I’m glad I have time to be curious.
After Canada and now Chile, are you looking toward other international collaborations?
To shoot a film abroad is to see the world differently, so of course, I would love to do so if the project made sense. I speak English, as well as Finnish and Italian, so I would love to work with Juho Kuosmanen who made “Compartment Number 6,” or with Alice Rohrwacher, who I think is a genius. And obviously, I would love to work with Greta Gerwig in the United States…