EXCLUSIVE: Being Leslie, Harley Quinn and Angel’s Power: A Conversation with Lara Pictet
Swiss sensation Lara Pictet has taken the UK & USA by storm and will be starring in numerous feature films over the coming year. Each film represents a different meaning that has effected Lara in some way, direct or in-direct, which showcases her extremely talented acting, producing and writing skills.
Fluent in English, French and Spanish, Lara’s previous award-winning films have led to these remarkable roles, allowing her to shine and fulfil her life-long dream at being an actress. After a hugely successful run, Lara’s next challenge is working on an independent feature film The Inheritance, where she plays the leading girl, “Leslie”. The film focuses on how our society takes things for granted in life, instead of just enjoying them. This independent feature portrays the real effects of money and the misconception people have with it.
The 23-year-old Geneva born beauty also landed a role in a new web series called Monarchs, which is a DC Comic inspired show based around the villains of Gotham City and their rise to power. Lara plays Dr Harleen Quinzel (Harley Quinn). DC comics are releasing their very own online streaming channel and the show’s producers are planning on pitching Monarchs to them. Teasers will be released this year.
Lara doesn’t stop here and will be starring in an exclusive sci-fi western film called Western Wonderland, directed by Reza Safai, which is due to be released next year. The way it was shot is one of a kind in its innovation and never been done before, using out of the box technology and creativity.
In our interview, Lara tells The Fan Carpet‘s Marc Jason Ali about her preparation to become Harley Quinn for Monarchs, what drew her to the role of Leslie in The Inheritance and why she got involved with Angel’s Power…
If we go back to the beginning, was there a defining moment for you to get into the film industry?
I mean not really. I mean I knew this is something that I wanted to do since I was four years old and my poor family I was forcing them to watch me perform a three person show by myself (laughs) and I get to learn so much about myself and other people by putting myself in other peoples shoes and I saw that inspired people around me and I knew that’s what I wanted to do and that’s what I was going to go after, till the day I die (laughs).
So obviously you’re a RADA graduate and the American equivalent, what can you tells us about your experience at RADA, at that prestigious school?
Well it was really tough at the beginning because they really get you to deal with difficult stuff, because that’s the only way to make you a stronger person and a stronger performer which is why I understood from the get go that I had to give 100% otherwise it just wouldn’t work. It was amazing, I got to learn all about Shakespeare and the contemporary playwrights, learn about different acting methods and practitioners, to understand which methods suited me best and also work on your dancing, your singing, your breathing (laughs) it’s all really like an ensemble work, that you use every single part of your body, that was really an eye-opening experience.
Cool… so it’s an experience you’d recommend then?
Absolutely. I think the training is so important, it teaches you not just about acting and its techniques and the methods, but also a lot about the business which both come together.
Okay. What can you tell us about The Inheritance and where you fit into the story?
Oh it’s such an exciting project, I’m playing the lead girl Leslie, she’s a bit of lost girl who tries to change her bad ways by going for someone she doesn’t usually get drawn to but she’s only human and falls back into old ways and bad habits but this time being aware of the consequences.
I think the inspiration behind this movie is really about not taking life for granted like we do, people have this perception of money and how it doesn’t necessarily make someone happier or fuller, so we really try to portray both positive and negative points of that and how to deal with it.
Okay, sound’s good. Was that what initially drew you to the it, just the fact that it was something you could get your teeth into?
Yeah. I’m very drawn to and I would like all of my projects to be this way, I really try to find projects that have a meaningful message that can make people aware of and inspire people at the same time because at the end of the day, you know, people watch films and TV to be entertained, so to be able to tell a story, bring it to life, with these characters, all the while making people aware and understand how they’re acting.
Yeah, that kind of feeds into my next question. You landed the role of Harley Quinn in Monarchs, how does it feel to be joining the universe in that way?
Oh my gosh so exciting, especially because this project is, weirdly it’s never been done before from the point of view of the villains so we’re really working on the trigger points of who where they before they became the villains and their process through that and it’s really such an exciting project for me because I get to go through Harley Quinn’s process from Dr. Harleen Quinzel to Harley Quinn and take the audience with me on that journey.
What was the research like? Because obviously, Harley was a creation on the animated series first and then made her way into the comics and there’s been a couple of iterations of her, most recently Margot Robbie was Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad and there was a short lived series called Birds of Prey and she was one of the main girls in that. Was it like just a case of reading all the material that you could get your hands on?
Yeah so I’m still in the process of reading some comic books, because her character changes so much from different comic books to the [animated] series to Margot Robbie’s interpretation of her, all the while keeping her sort of extreme personality, her physical changed a lot, so it’s just a matter of reading as much material as I can and finding a little bit of everything that I can put into my interpretation while putting Lara’s qualities of Harley Quinn into her.
I mean Margot Robbie did such an amazing job and I mean Suicide Squad is such an amazing and huge production, we hope ours will have just as much a big effect, but obviously Margot Robbie is Margot Robbie, so wow it’s difficult to do something and do a character without thinking “I’m going to be compared” and I can’t compare myself to that, I’m going to do my own thing while keeping the little interpretations and the essence that the other people have brought to Harley Quinn to.
Absolutely couldn’t agree more with that way, because obviously you don’t want to do like a copy of what’s come before you and make it your own.
Everyone does a character differently. I mean if you walk into an audition room for the same character they’ll be ten girls that look exactly the same but you give them the same sides and every single type of girl will do a different interpretation of it and from a casting director point of view I can’t even imagine being on that other side of the desk and watching how everyone comes up with their own different choices and it must be really interesting.
Yeah it must be, well you’ve got that to look forward to for your own projects. You’re also working on a sci-fi western called Western Wonderland. What can you tell us about that and where do you fit into the story?
Western Wonderland I finished filming and it’s in the post production process and its director is such an amazing out of the box person, he’s so artistic I do not know how he gets his imagination but it’s just absolutely breath-taking, it was shot one of a kind innovation, it’s never been done before I can’t wait for people to see the end result and see what kind of reactions it’ll get.
Great. Anything you can tell us about your character or is that all like “hush hush” at the moment?
It’s a bit “hush hush” but I prefer to let you guys see it and see your interpretation of it (laughs).
But it’s going to be crazy great.
Wonderful, okay. I look forward to that because I like a bit of sci-fi and a bit of a western so yeah.
Oh yeah (laughs)
Oh yeah I’m a big sci-fi fan.
Well I hope we can do justice to you. (laughs)
Should do (laughs). You’ve worked on stage as well with notable roles as Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and Eve in Wisdom of Eve. With you’re busy film schedule is theatre something you want to do more of?
Absolutely. I mean my goal was always to do film but I knew I had to get the theatre bases down first, you know most of the major actors have started or done theatre at some points in their careers and I think if you can succeed at theatre then films will come in way easier.
It’s always better to be too big and have to bring it down, than being too small and have to force it but it’s two totally different experiences and I cherish both of them. I definitely don’t put a cross on theatre I see a project I like I’m sure going to continue with it.
Awesome. And obviously having that sort of thing, when making you’re own projects does it, like where to position the camera for example, and all of that, because you’ve already got that basis on which to, on stage. Does that feed into stuff that you do further on in film?
Yes and no. I mean film is very much, it’s all very very close up so everything can’t be as big, it has to be very natural but the feeling behind it and the internal is the same process as you do in theatre, the way theatre is live and you have to think about your talking to the last person in the last row in the last seat of the theatre so you have to project, for film the more you project the more it looks and sounds forced, but the process is more or less the same, the internal essence.
Okay cool. Obviously you have an eclectic range of credits from the short films to the theatre to the films, do you have any preferred genres and do you have any favourite films?
Absolutely, my gosh. My favourite genre is more drama because I just love the suspense and the unpredictability of what’s to come next, it keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, you never know what’s about to come, I feed off of that. Favourite films, I love The Reader with Kate Winslet that was a very touching movie for me, also The Intouchables which is actually a French movie but it was so well done and had such an amazing reactions to it that they’re actually doing an American version of it.
Is that the one with Omar Sy with the chap in the wheelchair?
Yeah, brilliant film.
Amazing movie. Even people who don’t speak French or understand French even they understand the message and the themes behind it and for someone to do a project and have that kind of reaction you know did a phenomenal job.
Absolutely. Are there any other aspects about the film industry that you would like to pursue?
I mean every aspect is so interesting because its such a particular industry, but maybe writing, I didn’t know I was a good writer I don’t know (laughs) if I am but its definitely made me want to write my own story and my father always told me growing up “if you want something to happen you can’t just sit and wait for it. You’ve got to make it happen yourself” and that’s what came about when I started to write my first screenplay that I’m developing now. So maybe writing in the future, I hope one day maybe to be directing my projects and things like that, but baby steps, first I’m going to master my acting (laughs) and then hopefully move around.
Cool! Well you’re on that right track with the classes that you’re taking. Who inspires you in the industry?
So many people. I mean there’s Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington, I mean all these people. You know it’s very hard to not get typecast in this industry and all of these actors are pure examples of that, if you want something you go for it, there’s not one character that they cannot play, I’m pretty sure Meryl Streep has played every single range of character that there possibly is and I believe every single on of them.
Yeah, she is definitely one of the best so yeah.
So other than The Inheritance, Monarchs and Western Wonderland, what else are you working on?
So right now I’m working on my feature film, first screenplay that I wrote that I’m trying to develop, it’s about homosexuality in our society and how justice can be so corrupted when it comes to rape. I mean it’s such a taboo subject which is why I have to be very careful in the way I portray it, but at the same time I want everyone to be aware of its issues, you know especially in our society and our world today. It’s based on true facts but portrayed in a fictional manner that can be relatable to an audience, like think of a rawer version of Thelma & Louise.
Okay, another great film. Fandoms are a huge part of the industry from like Harry Potter to Transformers to Star Wars, anything like that. Who or what are you a fan of?
You mean of those kind of genres?
Not necessarily what I’ve already said, but anything that you can’t stop watching. Like for example, I just finished a massive binge of Netflix’s new series The Punisher.
Oh I haven’t watched that yet, I’ve heard great things about it though.
It’s great, I won’t say too much because it’s one of those things that needs to be seen it’s brilliant.
Right, don’t want to spoil it. (laughs) I think the last two things that I binge watched and I watch the seasons within 4 days (laughs) I almost did not sleep because of my schedule it was so hard but during the breaks I was like “I have to” where Big Little Lies and 13 Reasons Why. I don’t know if you’ve seen them or heard about them…
I heard about them, I haven’t seen them yet.
You absolutely have to. It’s definitely not the kind of “chick flicky”, some people see that cast and think “oh I don’t know” especially men, but I’ve forced a few men to watch, including my father and even he could not put the remote down he was like “there has to be another episode” (laughs)
Yeah. And with Netflix you’ve kind of got that because it’s like “next episode in 14 seconds” and you just keep watching.
Yeah exactly. (both laugh) You don’t have to wait a week for the episode to come out.
There are a couple of shows on Netflix that they do have that model for, like Star Trek: Discovery for example where it’s like one episode every week, but the vast majority it’s like every episode straight away which is nice. Like I did that with Voltron as well, it’s a great series it’s like a new retelling of the 80s classic and yeah it’s just brilliant, it just really is, it’s made by the same people who made Legend of Korra.
It’s one to watch out for.
Yeah it’s wonderfully animated and a brilliant cast as well. Yeah I like that one a lot. Trouble was the last season was 6 episode and they’re only a half hour each so it was like 3 hours and that was it, done.
(laughs) very dangerous.
It leaves you wanting more. It’s very dangerous but it leaves you wanting more and that’s a good thing.
Is there a book that you’re a fan of that hasn’t been adapted into film yet that you’d loved to be a part of?
Yes. It’s not a book, it’s actually a play but it’s a play that I actually did back in April it’s called Censored on Final Approach by Phylis Ravel and it’s about four women air force service pilots who served during the Second World War and were part of a very secret team that no one really knew about therefore they weren’t being treated well and there’s a few little bits and pieces and actually throughout the research process I actually met with one of the real air force service pilots that survived and I got in touch with the publisher of the play but the options, the rights for the play have been already been optioned, so I’m actually working with her and she’s sort of giving me an autobiography so that I can write a screenplay, because I think its such an amazing story.
Great! Okay we’ll look out for that.
But that’s only the beginning of the process.
Yeah, well we’ll look out for that and I’ll interview you again for that. What advice do you have for someone that is embarking upon a career in the film industry?
To really embrace every single life experience as they come regardless of whether they are good or bad, because you can use them in your work, that’s how people will relate and connect you.
Also not to be scared to just go for it and don’t be afraid of failing because this is one of the most unpredictable careers which is amazing so you always have to be on your guard, that you can’t succeed without learning how to fail first I think, and you learn from it and it’s amazing and the people that you meet in school throughout are important because you learn everyday from them, they learn from you and a lot of your research can come from them, and also it’s very important to have a solid support system, people that you know that can encourage each other, motivate each other, create content together, that’s very very important.
Yeah it is. Before I let you go to enjoy the rest of your Thanksgiving festivities with your family, what can you tell us about the rewarding work that you do with Angel’s Power?
Angel’s Power so we’re still at the beginning process of it but we’re still working on getting our first house which will basically offer victims of incest the best solutions, it’ll provide provide emergency and temporary shelter to the victims and for their families and their pets, and also help them through their traumatic experience by not letting it control them and determine their life basically.
It’s amazing, we’ve already had so much success over in Las Vegas and we’re hurrying up to create our first house and then we can help as many people as we want.
Okay. And obviously that’s really rewarding and it’s work that’s necessary. How did you get involved with them?
So basically, the founder of Angel’s Power, Danielle Power, was in my class at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and she has sort of her past which inspired her to want to create this shelter for victims and we got very very close and we have the same kind of work ethic and motivation and drive and she loves my input and my inspirations.
I love charities and helping people in any way that I can and she called me up, I was the first person she called up, and said “I want you to be involved in this, I want you to be the vice president and my right hand and I want you to be part of this project, of this team”.
Okay, sounds cool. We’ll look out for that. Well I’m going to let you go and enjoy the rest of your time with your family Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving and I look forward to speaking to you again and seeing what you come up with next.