Alicja Bachleda-Curus is a Mexican born Polish singer/actress already scoring raves for her devastating and powerful portrayal of a woman kidnapped about to be sold into sexusl slavery in Trade, a film that bowed earlier this year at Sundance. The film also stars Kevin Kline in the controversial thriller. Bachleda-Curus is also a renowned singer in her native Poland and has an album due out. The multi-talented performer talked exclusively to Paul Fischer.
Question: So did you go to Sundance with this movie in January?
Bachleda-Curus: Yes we did.
Question: Was it an exciting experience was it?
Bachleda-Curus: It was very exciting. I mean I didn’t know what to expect but the reception was amazing. We had a standing ovation and people were actually very enthusiastic. They were really asking and demanding that the movie will be seen, you know, and that people will actually get to see it and it will open some eyes.
Question: How did you get involved in this project in the first place?
Bachleda-Curus: I worked with the director, with Marco Kreuzpaintner back in Germany. We did a movie together called Summer Storm. He obviously, hopefully, enjoyed working with me and he gave me this script one year before they started to shoot and he said, ‘There’s a part. It’ll be great for you. It’s up to the producer who will be cast in it’. And of course I knew that being in this city, with basically no name yet and not being recognisable, to get a lead like this is such a movie, this is basically impossible. So I won’t tell you the details. I don’t know them as well, I just know that basically the found a way to give me the part at the very, very last second, last minute. So I had basically one day and a half to prepare for the part but I was more than happy to do that.
Question: This is a very intense role and you have to do some rather horrible things in this movie and it’s obviously very emotionally draining. How tough was it for you, particularly the rape scene and the final scene in which you appear – I don’t want to give it away obviously, but how difficult was it for you to shoot some of that stuff?
Bachleda-Curus: Well it’s been difficult. Emotionally when you prepare for the part like that and especially when you don’t have too much time, you really have to jump into the character and take whatever’s thrown on her. And I just didn’t pay special attention to the difficult scenes, you know, ‘She’s getting raped. Oh my god’. It’s really like, I really wanted to experience or to be very attached to that and there were scenes that were pretty difficult physically as well. I didn’t even feel the pain when I got hit by accident by my partner and my lips were split open and I was bleeding, I didn’t even realise that because I was so into the character and in those scenes you really want it to seem very, very real. And yeah, I just was into it. And the rape scene or the jump scene, they are more of a physical challenge really – the jump scene because I have a fear of heights. It was a challenge. They offered for me to take a stunt girl to do the jump and I really, I was really convinced I wanted to do that. There’s a chance that you can actually seen the face and I really want to jump. It was a jump, so yeah, I have to say I was petrified and terrified..
Question: How hard is it to leave a character like this behind at the end of the day?
Bachleda-Curus: It is kind of difficult and it is difficult because with the emotions and, as you said, it’ not an easy character and very dramatic, and this is something you really have to sink into to be able to perform or to build the volume of this character in such a short time, I really tried to be in it as much as I can. So it wasn’t easy when we had to break for Christmas. But I went back to Poland and my lovely family and was all happy and I was still kind of into the emotions, the state of being somebody else. Although I have heard from my family and my friends that I matured in this two months so much they almost don’t recognise me. And I think it stayed that way.
Question: What kind of back story did you give her?
Bachleda-Curus: Well she was a mother and this is changing your way of thinking, your perspective on life totally. I never experienced that. I think it’s hard to imagine how it is to really live that life with somebody else. And from a character, for Veronica, her whole goal was to survive for her son. And the choice she made at the end, it’s very difficult. It’s kind of difficult for me to explain and to understand her choice.
Question: So was it hard for you to relate to this character?
Bachleda-Curus: No. She’s terribly different. Even if she’s from Poland she had a totally different background than I do. No. I mean what I’m saying is I really was in it, you know. I kind of really experienced things with her in a way, although not getting too crazy because of course her experience were so dramatic and so terrible that I’d probably be a wreck after that, but no, it’s just for a person, for a young woman to understand the choice of actually committing suicide, it’s very difficult but then if you consider the drama she went through and the fact that she probably lost herself in it, she didn’t have herself any more. She didn’t have a past any more.
Question: What do you hope audiences will get out of seeing the film?
Bachleda-Curus: It would be pretty naïve to say that it will change the world, but from the reactions at Sundance and from the people saying – I have many women coming up to me and thanking me for the part which makes me feel, actually the miracle of actually changing or opening some minds or touching people with your performance. I hope the awareness will be brought to people and if anything can be changed and when I hear or when I see what’s going on, they might be changed. This is probably something that I would never expect or dream of, you know, to be part of some kind of creation that’s important and that has a message.
Question: What has this movie done for your career and your own perceptions of you outside of Poland and Mexico?
Bachleda-Curus: I came to the US hoping to work and I’ve been still working in Europe in the meantime and I really hope I will be able to do movies like that, do movies that actually have some message, have some meaning. We’ll see. I’m very open for everything.