Interview With Actress Marem Hassler

By Ruth on August 11, 2016 in Interview, movie, television
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As I continue my passion of interviewing those involved in the entertainment industry, sometimes I “chance” upon people in most unusual ways. I happened to put in a request to interview an actor (Karl E. Landler–his interview will happen later), and this charming gentleman included Marem Hassler as part of that request. I was quite unfamiliar with her and her fantastic work, but as I have continued to interact with her and discover her impressive list of credits, she happily agreed to answer some comprehensive questions encompassing everything from her early work to her present projects as well as her general philosophy of her career and her life in general.

Picture credit by Karl Preston

Picture credit by Karl Preston

RH: Why did you decide to become an actress?

MH: From an early age, I loved stories and books–they were always my “go to.” And with both my parents being artists, being creative was our kind of “normal,” I guess. {laughs} I had a short career as a signed singer/songwriter but ultimately, I realized acting was the medium that lent itself best for me to tell stories–mine and other people’s.

Picture Credit Ewan Phelan

Picture Credit Ewan Phelan

I think what I love about acting is becoming an instrument that is informed by my past experience and yet inspired and driven by the new perspective or vision of a director, writer or fellow actor. It’s really quite a privilege to be entrusted a character that until that moment has only existed in someone else’s mind and heart. It’s exciting because you get to uncover yet another facet of human behavior through your own body, voice and emotions. Not to mention, when things in real life go slightly south, you just file it under: “That’s great, I can totally use that, more please.” {laughs}

At the end of the day, the understanding that as human beings we are more alike than we think. Even if I play a character whose actions seem completely opposite to my own moral compass, that is what makes this job so interesting and different every time. I think that’s what I’m looking for when playing a part. Starting at opposite ends and finding my way to the character.

picture by Brittney Najar for my film The Exodus of the Ladybird

picture by Brittney Najar
for my film The Exodus of the Ladybird

What kind of training have you received? 

My training coincided with living in different cities–Zurich, Paris, London, New York and LA. That was great because it really taught me not just a variation in techniques –from classical to interpretive dance– but also observing different cultures and languages. I trained in London with my mentor Vivienne Rochester. It’s where I started my career and got to work with some amazing filmmakers and fellow actors on stage, in TV, film and commercials. Then I decided I wanted to try out New York, so I went to Stella Adler and their conservatory. I met another Mentor, Robyn Lee. Her “ In the moment: the art of being” informed my need for exploration tremendously, and I got to dig into some great stage work.

Picture credit by Karl Preston

Picture credit by Karl Preston

But my deepest passion was film, and LA just felt like the natural progression. My acting “home studio” for the last four years here in LA has been Tony Barr’s Filmactor Workshop under the mentorship of Eric Kline. I’m a firm believer that it’s super important to keep going to class–especially if you are already working. It’s where it’s completely safe to fail and grow–the only way to get better. {laughs}

I noticed your first acting role was in the science fiction show LEXX.  I haven’t seen the show yet, but I know of it. What was your experience like on that show?

Yes, LEXX was my first acting gig! {laughs} It had a huge cult following at the time and still has, as it was very tongue-in-cheek, super geeky and a little “out there.” I had just come out of drama school and got to fly to Canada for a week working opposite Brit Ekland. I was lucky. It was a very professional and respectful set to be on as an actor,  and it set the tone of what I wanted to experience on set and what I was willing to work towards in my career. It’s really a team effort, and respect for everybody regardless of their position is essential. They become your family no matter how long the shoot is.

Picture credit by Nicolas J Reid

Picture credit by Nicolas J Reid

What would you say was your most challenging role and why?

They all are–every time! I think I’m always that little bit terrified and excited about a part. Usually you’ll go to an audition, and if they like what you’ve done, you book the gig–that’s when the real job begins, at least for me. I try and get as much research in as possible, and if the role asks for physicality or special skills, I will try and get as good at them in real life, as possible.

picture credit by Paul Street, jewelry by Matthew Ready

picture credit by Paul Street,
jewelry by Matthew Ready

That’s something I did for Southbeach, a crime series for HULU directed by Joshua Caldwell, where I played LT Whitney. The research required intense tactical training and knowledge of firearms.

And then I guess, Pilar Hernandez, a role I played for Dreamteam, a long running TV show in the UK on SKY1 and FOX. I was part of the regular cast for two seasons, and the challenge there was to keep–keep–keep exploring–to stay curious, even when you’ve played the role for a long time. And because Pilar was such a ballbuster, I had to find the moments her vulnerability could shine through and give the role more depth.

What has been your favorite role so far and why?

My favorite role so far: I want to say the one that’s around the corner 🙂 I have great affection and gratitude for the parts I’ve played so far, but I think you want to meet a new role like a blind date: with courage, a good dose of respect, and willingness to be a fool. And if it doesn’t work out, you got your friends, chocolate and Netflix. {laughs}

picture by Brittney Najar for my film The Exodus of the Ladybird

picture by Brittney Najar
for my film The Exodus of the Ladybird

Nevertheless, there are some cool projects that stick out. I usually play bad asses, which I absolutely live for {laughs}, but I just wrapped on a pilot called Dad Inc, written, directed and produced by Jack Roberts and–it’s comedy! It’s a newer thing for me. ( I was voted most dramatic in school.) But it was so much fun making people laugh that it certainly ranks up there as one of my favorites. And a film called Masks, where I got to work with one of my favorite young and award-winning female directors, Ayasylla Ghosn. We shot on film, which today is just so rare. The role asked to be traveling through extreme emotions, from ecstatic happy to all-consuming sadness within three minutes, looking right into the camera. There was only a limited amount of film stock, so there really was just one take to get it right–the pressure was on. At the same time, it was amazing hearing the camera roll and understanding that the great ones that wrote cinema history heard the same sound before they took a breath and took their leap.

I notice you have done a little bit of everything in your career–write, direct, produce, etc. Why have you chosen to do so many different careers within the industry?

Picture credit by Karl Preston

Picture credit by Karl Preston

I started writing, directing and producing really as a reaction to not always getting the chance to be seen for parts I passionately wanted to explore. I co-founded Viscus Film, my film company, together with my best friend from Drama school, Andrea L Goldman, for that reason. And we have some very cool projects lined up. In this day and age with the technology at hand, there is really no excuse to not pursue your vision. People always forget that as an actor you clock an incredible amount of hours on set. We learn so much by observation and osmosis. I’m not saying that makes up for training in the respective field, but we learn by doing. When we get scripts, we break them down, and that gives us great insight into writing. On set, we are directed–guided to bring out the best performance–well, it doesn’t  get any closer to shadowing a director at work than working with him. And producing is just a question of organizing and finding a “yes” in a sea of “no’s.” {laughs} Do you have the willpower and skill to work with people and deliver a finished project?

So I really feel it’s all connected. Much like we have seen with Clint Eastwood, Lena Dunham and many others.

As a woman who not only acts, but directs, writes, etc., have you experienced gender inequality?  Do you think that things are changing positively for woman in the industry?  

Inequality exists on various levels in the industry, and let’s face it, in life. And you just can’t make that be the thing that stops you from telling the stories you set out to tell.

As an actress and as a filmmaker too, having dealt with a lot of rejection, you learn that it does not define who you are and who you can be, not in the “job” and not in your private life. Our industry is extraordinary at it’s best and can be devastating at it’s worst. I think it’s key to surround oneself with creative and like-minded people and friends and create memories outside of the perceived definition of “success”.

picture by Emma K. Studio Photography film stills from Duo

picture by Emma K. Studio Photography
film stills from Duo

picture by Emma K. Studio Photography film stills from Duo

picture by Emma K. Studio Photography
film stills from Duo

To share an example, Duo, a film that I co-wrote/ produced and acted in together with actor/director Karl E. Landler,  was written in three days. We shot it in forty-eight hours on a road trip to Vegas with our best friends in the back of a car without AC on the hottest weekend of the year. Had we known fully what to expect, we probably wouldn’t have done it. But it became a learning curve. And it  created a community of filmmakers that regardless of obstacles, went for it and relied on each other. It’s become a festival darling winning it’s fourteenth award and getting twenty nominations. Is it the best film ever made? Absolutely not, but it was a little story we were passionate about. Not to mention should any of our friends need help on a project, we’re there. To me, filmmaking has a lot to do with forging friendships–for life.

I think definitely more and more women are being recognized. And it’s very exciting to be part of that movement. People sometimes forget though that there have always been amazing women in art and in our industry, who have paved the way, like Dede Allen and Kathryn Bigelow, two women whose work I completely admire. Now it’s our responsibility to keep going and increase the numbers.

 

picture by Emma K. Studio Photography film stills from Duo

picture by Emma K. Studio Photography
film stills from Duo

Any upcoming works you can mention? 

Yes, some very cool projects coming up, Dad Inc, which I mentioned earlier. Actors Anonymous is being released this year. This is a film produced and acted in by James Franco and  Riley Parra, based on the book by Geonn Cannon with the same title. This is a Tello Films production, which I’m super excited about. Tello is the leading worldwide platform for LGBTQ content, and when co-founder and director Christin Baker approached me with the project, I was just so thrilled to bring this action-driven story to life.

picture by Brittney Najar for my film The Exodus of the Ladybird

picture by Brittney Najar
for my film The Exodus of the Ladybird

The role of Riley Parra includes a lot of physical prep. I have an amazing team in place helping me. Jerry Ford, my trainer, has devised an entire program geared towards the character’s needs for speed, strength and agility and of course, fight training. Then once a week, I drive to Orange County and go for my firearms target practice with Artifex. My dear friend and former British Forces Operator has got me on some challenging drills. So by the time we are ready to film, the action sequences will be authentic and intense. Music to any actor’s ear. {laughs}

If you could do a remake of any film, which one would you choose? What would your role be-actor, director, etc?

If I could remake a film: As an actress, it would be Aliens. Sigourney Weaver’s performance to me set the tone for female-driven action movies and of course, Terminator with Linda Hamilton.  As a filmmaker, I find the idea of remakes less immediate. I think my path is more about finding lesser told stories. I’ve just written my first feature called Pen Pals, and I’m excited to be directing this and explore my voice as a director a bit more.

Picture Credit Ewan Phelan

Picture Credit Ewan Phelan

How do you keep your motivation going? 

There’s a couple of things. I really believe in creating memories with whatever I do and whomever’s company I’m in. I’m fed by staying curious about the person or situation in front of me and trusting that things are happening “for” me instead of “to” me. I guess it’s like shifting perspective while being in the same spot. Being okay that sometimes things will feel very “uncomfortable” but that it’s OK, and that it doesn’t need a “fix” or additional “story.”

Please tell us five of your favorite things.

My dog- she reminds me of joy; my crystal stones- I get a sense of grounding; chocolate- it’s emotional ; my watch- it’s the only constant piece of jewelry I’ve had for the last fifteen years; mascara- because it keeps me begging for more.

Picture credit by Nicolas J Reid

Picture credit by Nicolas J Reid

 

Never let it be said that Marem is naught but a “pretty face.” Don’t misunderstand me–the girl is absolutely gorgeous, but beneath those dark curls and smoldering eyes, Marem is a woman who is committed to her chosen profession with genuine fervency that is essential in a business where one meets rejection and roadblocks more often than not. While Marem may not be a “household name” in some circles, her vision of success is not consumed with the “bells and whistles” of the trade. For her, acting for film and television is a true art form. Perfection is the goal, and as she hones her skills, her aims come closer and closer to the mark. She thrives on the daily challenges of enhancing her innate abilities, and in that, she is definitely triumphant. As a woman who refuses to accept any stereotype people may attempt to thrust upon her, I believe she will continue to thrive in this business as her passion for this art form only intensifies, and in so doing, I believe she will see her lofty hopes and dreams come to fruition. She has the talent, stamina, brains, and beauty to accomplish all that she imagines, and she does it all with grace, style, elegance, and humility. Be sure that you follow her at the links below so that you can watch every step of her captivating career unfold.

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
42-year-old single mother of an active 13-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher

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