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Interview: Star Nadia Tereszkiewicz on Rosalie

Poster for the film Rosalie, from an interview with Nadia Tereszkiewicz

We sit down with the lead actress of Rosalie, Nadia Tereszkiewicz, for an interview to discuss her new film, femininity, and her career so far.

Loosely based on a real-life story, Rosalie is directed by Stephanie Di Giusto, who also co-wrote the screenplay Nadia Tereszkiewicz plays the titular character, a young woman unlike any other. At the beginning of the film, Rosalie travels to meet and soon after marry Abel (Benoît Magimel), a café owner who marries her for her dowry. But Abel doesn’t know that Rosalie is hiding a secret, and neither does everyone around her, except her father. She was born with her body and face covered in hair, and has spent her entire life shaving her beard. One day, Rosalie decides to grow it out and face the judgment of the town she lives in and those close to her.

Before Rosalie comes out in UK cinemas this week, we sit down with the lead actress Nadia Tereszkiewicz to talk about her role in this film and her future projects. Read our full interview!

Nadia Tereszkiewicz on how she started working on Rosalie and her character

How did you become involved with Rosalie in the first place?

Nadia Tereszkiewicz: I worked with the director in 2016, but we did not talk to each other for six years. I met her in the streets during the COVID pandemic, when we were both wearing masks, and she recognised me. She asked me if I would like to do a casting for her, so I did. I had faith in her and in her vision; I really believe in her, artistically. For me, meeting her in the streets was a sign that we were connected, so I just went [to the casting] without thinking!

How did you work on your character?

N.T.: It was a lot of coming back and forth with trying the beard on and trying to find it, because one millimetre can change everything. It was complicated to also find something that looked feminine, so we were searching for it for two or three months. It made me think about how she is and also the emotions that I had, like shame, or feeling bad in my body, which I could not control. So I had this journey to fight against these feelings and try to find something powerful from them.

I also watched two movies: Ryan’s Daughter by David Lean and the Dardenne brothers’ Rosetta for the main characters. I wanted to look more at love stories because Stephanie wanted to really focus on the love story. I had a picture of Clémentine Delait, the bearded woman that inspired the story, but her life was very different [to Rosalie’s], so I just had her picture and then I forgot about her.

Nadia Tereszkiewicz holds a book as a bearded woman in the film Rosalie, from the Loud and Clear interview
Nadia Tereszkiewicz in Rosalie (© 2023 Tresor Films – Gaumont – LDRPII – Artémis Productions, Picturehouse)

And the beard must have been such a big physical transformation! What was it like, for you, the first time you tried it on?

N.T.: I loved the transformation! It made me go into character right away. But it also made me question my own femininity and other things about me that I felt insecure about. It’s crazy how dependent we are on the looks of others and the idea of beauty or what women are. I just kept thinking: why does my character have to prove to others that she is a woman? It is also about desire: I think it’s beautiful that desire is uncontrollable, it comes from feelings, even if there is resistance to them.

Nadia Tereszkiewicz on filming Rosalie and shooting chronologically

Do you have a favourite scene in Rosalie?

Nadia Tereszkiewicz: I will never forget the scene of the first night after the wedding. I didn’t know what the reaction of the other actor was going to be like: we didn’t talk between takes and he didn’t know anything about the beard or the body hair, so it was a surprise for him. I was afraid; I was standing behind the door, my hands were shaking, and my heart was racing. I was taken by an emotion that I had never had when we did the scene. The way he looked at me, it changed me. And this scene was the beginning of the relationship and the start of the story, which is super important also because we shot chronologically.

Do you think that shooting Rosalie chronologically helped you in the journey of your character?

N.T.: It changed everything! It’s an incredible opportunity , because we had the whole place ready, we were actually in an authentic place so we could do this chronologically. It changed my relationship with my body: I felt more and more comfortable. And the moment when I had a beard, I understood that this is how Rosalie is a woman: she is a woman with a beard. And she can have her own desires, not dictated by society, and they are connected to herself and her own journey but not linked to men.

Is there anything in your character in Rosalie that reminds you of yourself, personality-wise?

N.T.: It is crazy: after the movie premiered in Cannes [where the movie premiered last year], my mum came to see me, and she was crying. For the first time, she told me that it was hard for her [to watch my performance] because it looked like I was the one suffering, not the character. But I think it is the part furthest from me. But maybe it was the closest. Maybe, because I had a beard, I allowed my personality to come out. I didn’t realise it, but my mum saw many things come from me, like how I cry or laugh in real life. So yes, there are things of me in Rosalie: my mum said it!

Rosalie Film Review: Beautiful & Heartbreaking – Loud and Clear
Stéphanie Di Giusto’s latest film, Rosalie is a beautifully crafted movie with incredible acting and tragic undertones.

This is not the first time you have worked with Stephanie Di Giusto. What do you like about working with her?

N.T.: She knows exactly where we are going, so she lets us be free and improvise. She understands really well how each actor works, so she understands how I work and how I need to be on set. I can’t be focused all the time, I need to laugh and be alive, and she would understand that and laugh with me, be with me. She also wants to tell stories about strong, powerful, and beautiful women and travel in time. I am really happy with her; I think it is a sign because I started [working in] cinema with her.

Nadia Tereszkiewicz on the start of her career

How did you first get into acting?

Nadia Tereszkiewicz: I danced in movies while I was studying literature at the Sorbonne when I was going to be a French teacher. At one point, they proposed a role without dancing, and I got the part, so that is how I started. In the past seven years, I worked a lot in France but now I am doing a western movie in Italy. I love that movies travel and now I am called [to work] a little bit in Europe. I am super happy that Rosalie is coming out to the UK now because I would be so happy to travel a bit and be European.

I know you studied dancing, and you were training to become a dancer growing up. Do you think that has an effect on your acting or how you approach performance?

N.T.: A lot, it has a link. The positive thing is the way I move, how I am in space and connected to my body. I love to imagine how the body talks, your posture talks and [I think about how] women in the sixties or 18th century moved. It is something that really interests me, especially how the body can show different types of femininity. The body can also change, and it is beautiful: we are not stuck in a sort of code.

I also felt like I had no freedom in dance, and cinema allowed me to explore that. I felt so free, whereas dance showed me what it is not to be free. I also had such a problem with my personality because in dance they would tell me to take it off. But cinema called me for my personality, and I allowed so many emotions to come out that I have never really let go with dance. That’s why I am so happy in cinema: I found a place where I really can abandon myself.

Dance helped me also because my first artistic emotions came from dance. For example, Pina Bauch has been my biggest inspiration, since I was four years old, I followed her in my emotional journey so I will always be so happy to have danced.

Nadia Tereszkiewicz is a bride walking with a man outdoors in the film Rosalie, from the Loud and Clear interview
Rosalie (© 2023 Tresor Films – Gaumont – LDRPII – Artémis Productions, Picturehouse)

You have also acted in different languages in your films. Do you think it is a challenge to act in a different language or in a language that is not your mother tongue?

N.T.: I really feel it. I am experiencing it now because I am doing a role in Italian only for the first time. But I have done films where I spoke Hebrew, Finnish and Arabic in the past.. I would love to do [a role in] English too. Another language is always a new way to see the world and to see others, it tells a lot about a culture. In German, you have the verb at the end, which means you can understand the sentence only at the end. Or in Hebrew, they use the present tense a lot because they live in the present.

These things are really interesting to understand. I feel like it’s a challenge, because it is also a new way of seeing things. They say you are more free in your mother tongue, but when you have the feelings, the language will come. I feel like it is an amazing experience, it’s like travelling, and cinema allows that.

On what Nadia will do in her future after Rosalie

Do you think you will work with Stephanie again in the future?

Nadia Tereszkiewicz: I hope so! We became friends so there is something really strong between us.

You also mentioned a movie in Italy! What is next in your career?

N.T.: Yes, it’s a western. I am starting shooting in August so I am doing horse riding every day now. I am doing a sort of Calamity Jane type of character, it’s really cool. And then I have a movie that is coming out called Islanders, which was an incredible experience. I am also going to be in an independent American movie called The Maid of Orleans; I have a smaller part, but the cast is amazing.

Is there a genre you would want to explore more in the future?

N.T.: With every new movie, I do something completely new, but I would love to do maybe a blockbuster. A big movie with a strong woman.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Rosalie will open in cinemas across the UK & Ireland on June 7, 2024. Read our review of Rosaline!

Rosalie: Trailer (Picturehouse)
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