The following is my interview with Marie Brassard, the Roberta of Caroline Monnet’s film (Roberta, 2014).
What was it like working with Caroline?
It was great. Caroline is a very intelligent person who made herself readily available. We had great conversations about the film and Roberta’s character.
How did you approach this character?
I had several conversations with Caroline who told me about her grandmother, the woman who inspired the character. As a child, Caroline was fascinated by her and her eccentric attitude, which made her a remarkable figure in the suburbs where she lived. This was not necessarily a good thing, since her difference could frighten the more conventional people who lived there, and so her loneliness was accentuated. It was this extreme sense of loneliness that I wanted to highlight.
What did you take away from this character?
Caroline saw me in her grandmother, and I retained the beautiful and very touching stories and the affection she had for this woman. When you create a character, it’s a perception, an idea that you have of that person, even if it’s inspired by someone who really existed. You invent the character. As far as her state of mind goes, you can sense that she is vulnerable, isolated, and does not feel adequate. And so I relied on my own experience of painful loneliness; we can all identify with that.
What is your most vivid memory of the shoot?
The suburban house where we filmed, which was a fascinating place and decorated in a very kitschy way. If I remember correctly, the owner had died shortly before, and her children allowed us to shoot there before emptying it of the furniture and objects and putting it up for sale. Because of this, there was a kind of sacred spirit floating in the air. It was as if, through this film, the children’s farewell to their mother was made official through a kind of artistic ceremony.