Tilerama interview – by Athina Zacharaki
This lift doesn’t hold more than two people: “Two Persons Max”. However, this also might be the lift to bring Vasiliki Vlachou up to the stars that she loves. Billie, as she’s being called in UK, the young Greek who “invades” London and the famous Pinewood studios with her short film, dares to dream!
She tells me: “Can we speak in a couple of hours, so I can go for a run?” To be honest, I don’t really understand what she’s talking about, but why should I say no? Thank god we’ve got Skype. It brings everyone from every part of the world a bit closer.
We arrange a time for the interview and two hours later, just with a click of a button, she appears on my screen, fresh after her shower. You can tell she’s Greek not so much from her appearance, but mainly because of her warm smile.
She asks me eagerly how the weather in Greece is and when I tell her that it’s sunny, she frowns and turns her computer screen towards the window of her room – a grey sky with clouds. “And this is considered to be good weather – luckily it’s not raining…” she says.
She seems to be very energetic and basically not able to stay still. “What is this running thing about?” is the first thing I ask her and she starts laughing. She explains that every day she simply runs up and down a hill near her house for 40-45 minutes!
“And why on earth would any normal person want to do something like that?” I ask her again and this time she bursts into laughter. “Last year I quit smoking, to protect my voice and my skin, so in order to cope with the withdrawal syndrome and the nervousness of the first days, I started running and it gradually became a habit” she says. But, also –as I find out later- thanks to her excellent physical condition, she managed to get one of her first jobs.
– How come you decided to go to London?
“I couldn’t afford to go to America. Also, I had a great excuse for my parents: MA in Dance Theatre. But when I arrived here, 4.5 years ago, I realised I didn’t like that Master, so I dropped out and started following my real dream: the movies. I just thought to give it a try”.
– So what did you do?
“I had no contacts at all, nothing. I had no money, so I started doing several jobs, like working in customer services, as an usher in theatres, hostess at Madame Tussauds etc, while at the same time, I was trying to find an acting agent and go to auditions. I was doing everything, in order to practice the English language and gain experience. The fact that I was keeping fit with exercise helped me to start doing some sports commercials”.
– Is it difficult to leave your own country and become a foreigner?
“Well, let’s say it’s not exactly the easiest thing in the world. You go somewhere where you are on your own, no one speaks your language and if you feel lonely or depressed, you can’t run to your mum for support. I think this is the most difficult thing: the lack of your family and your close friends. Until you start slowly adapting to your new environment, you are a foreigner in a foreign place”.
– Did you feel like “an alien” as Sting used to sing?
“Yes, I did, but not in a negative way. English people (in London) are particularly familiar with the “aliens”, meaning the foreigners. They don’t seem to care so much about where you come from. As long as you are a responsible and hard working person, no one will stop you from moving on”.
– So, about your film… a 9 min and 44 sec psychological thriller with a sense of humour. What is it about?
“The film is called Two Persons Max. I wrote the script and was extremely lucky to find a team of people to help me. It was filmed and produced by Tim Kent at the famous Pinewood studios. The whole film takes place exclusively in a lift with only two women. Having been influenced by Hitchcock’s genius way to create suspense, I tried to add a bit of dark humour to soften the tension of the story”.
– And you managed to be nominated for Best Actor at St Albans Film Festival…
“Yes. I’m very excited about that and I do feel justified in a way. When you remain in your comfort zone – as I did in Greece – you can’t exceed yourself. But, if you break out of your comfort zone and make it happen, then you become more confident and much stronger”.
– You do know of course that the Media in Greece tend to look down on those who go abroad…
“I never understood that sort of contempt and those sarcastic comments. I’ve always disliked any kind of negative and discouraging attitude. What for? Is it a bad thing for someone to give it a try? No matter the result… That’s why here I don’t usually hang around with Greeks who look at me as if saying “who do you think you are?…”. I am no one. I just keep trying to get where I want and never giving up”.
– And if everything goes so well that you are offered work in Hollywood, what are you going to do? Most of your colleagues or industry people in Europe don’t seem to appreciate the American blockbusters and the commercial cinema.
“So, let’s say Steven Spielberg offers you a part in a film – will you say no?! That’s ridiculous. For sure, I wouldn’t have any second thoughts. I believe that the art should be for everyone, not just for the elite. It shouldn’t be the exclusive privilege of a few. Art is a form of entertainment, a way to escape from your reality and forget about everyday problems. Art can also be fun. That’s why I tried to make my 10 minute film basically entertaining”.
– What is your next project and which is your favourite quote?
“I’ve been writing a feature film script. I have no idea how it’s going to make it to a film, but I do prefer to fail, than not to have tried at all. My favourite quote is: Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”.
Who Is Who
- Her first role on TV was in “Istories tou Astunomou Beka” (“Stories of Officer Bekas”) as a mysterious house maid in 2006 and later she also appeared in “Alithinoi Erwtes” (“True Loves”)
- She was part of the chorus in “Iphigenia at Aulis” dir Sot. Chatzakis – Thessaliko Theatro.
- She took part in “Inoubliable” – Theatro tou Neou Kosmou.
- In London she has been in quite a few Off West End theatre productions.
- If she wasn’t an actress, she would like to take care of animals. She has a cat herself, which she claims to be officially the most spoilt cat in Europe!
- She loves Capoeira, Tai Chi and any form of dynamic exercise.