True Actor Interview: Lisette Lastra

True Actor Interviews are done with actors who are dedicated to the craft of acting. A true actor appreciates the art form and craft of acting. They demonstrate their authentic passion for acting by studying technique seriously over a period of years. To qualify as a “True Actor,” they need to have performed as a leading/critical role on stage, in film, or both.

The spotlight is on the actor’s dedication to becoming masterful at the craft and their process to do so. We believe the actors we select are great role models for what it looks like to be a true actor, someone who finds the reward in doing the thing itself. In many cases, they have made great personal sacrifices in order to be able to pursue their acting career on the biggest stage of all — Hollywood film and television.

LisetteLastra2Thank you for being with us today, Lisette. It’s a pleasure to interview you and get your perspective on acting.  I’d like to start by having you tell us a bit about the kind of acting work you’ve done just to give us a little background. Then  we’ll go inwards from there.

Sure. I just finished shooting a short film here in Los Angeles titled Celine. It’s in post right now and should be finished at the end of January, 2016.  I also worked a lot in Chile, doing feature film, commercials, and TV.

Okay, so you have some good experience. Can you tell us more about the film you just shot and the role you play?

Yes. Celine is the story of a guy who killed his girlfriend but doesn’t realize it because she’s still alive in his mind. I play the girlfriend.

There’s a key scene in it where I have to be kind of dancing as if someone took over my soul. It’s very abstract, and Jerry [Director Jerry Hoffman] let me play a lot with it. He gave me freedom to do what I wanted. The location was great, too. We shot at a private beach in Orange County.

Wow! What a dream location!

Yes, it was. It was also unusual because we shot it with a 360 camera, which I never had any experience with it but it turned out perfectly well. And I loved workin with Jerry, the director. He really knows how to talk to actors.

Yeah, I hear that’s a big thing. Every once in a while I hear a star actor talk about how a director is an “actor’s director.”  In fact, I’ve heard Steven Spellberg is that way!  Who are some actors or directors that you inspire you or that you’d like to work with?

I’d love to work with Jim Jarmush because he does the kind of movies I’d like to be in. His stories are beautifully narrated, the music grabs you, and the characters are so unique. His work inspires me so much.

Also, having the opportunity to work with Xavier Dollan would be my dream as well. The subject matter of his movies are things I’m interested in. The quality of the image is brilliant, and the way he combines body and spirit moves me so much.

Well put. Any actors you admire?

Oh my gosh, when I first saw Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, she blew me away.  Also seeing her in The Reader, Revolutionary Road, and Sense and Sensibility moved me in such a magical way.  I love her determination and the substance she puts in every character. Her versatility is also amazing. She has the ability to fit in comedy, drama and romance.

Yes, she’s brilliant! Of course, I loved her in Titantic, too. So romantic.  Anyone else come to mind?   

Juliete Binoche is so spontaneous and passionate. So instinctively smart.  

Yes, I would have to agree. Those actresses are also very deep. I get that sense about you, too. You’re soft-spoken and you seem like a deep person.

I’m very sensitive. I’m also shy really, and I have a huge inner world. I like seeing the details in everything, and I think a richness and depth comes from that.  I see that in them.

Speaking of depth….What do you feel is the essence of acting?

I think creating something that comes from a truthful place. Authenticity. You have to go underneath the surface… being present to let things happen organically.

Interesting. When I took acting classes years ago, the teachers were always talking about letting things happen, being present to what’s in the room.  And Eastern philosophy really talks about the power and beauty of letting things happen. But it seems like we have to learn how to do that. Do you think acting is learned or is it more about natural talent?LisetteLastra1

A strong actor is someone who is sensitive, listens, and doesn’t judge.  I do think that natural talent is required. However talent without practice and training would go nowhere.

I think learning is the most important part. Even with natural talent, you need to keep training and finding what are the things you have to work on to keep growing in your craft.

That makes sense.  So what kind of training do you have?

I came to Los Angeles, of course, for my film career.  But I wanted to go to The Lee Strasberg Institute since I was 16.  So I studied there, and I recently completed a 2-year program.  And I have other training as well, but that’s really my foundation.

Okay, so you’re from Chile, right? Did you move to L.A. from Chile?

I’m half-Chilean and half-French. I grew up in Santiago, Chile.  But I lived in New York City for a year before I moved to Los Angeles.

Were you acting in New York, too?

I did scenes in underground bars with Lucie Tipon, a writer, for a year.  Then after a year, it was time to move on, so I grabbed all my things and moved here.

Great. On a different note… What would be your dream role to play?

One of the things I love about acting is getting to portray a wide range of characters. So I’m open to that. My dream is to do roles supported by a good screenplay and a team that’s interested in telling the story with depth and truth.

Beautiful. It seems like sometimes actors get so consumed with their careers because it’s such a challenging road. Do you have other interests? 

Oh yes!  I’m also a painter and I love spending time by myself drawing or painting.  Music is also part of my heart. I’m learning how to play the guitar because I always wanted to, and I think it’s never too late to learn.

And I think, for an actor it’s very important to develop other interests to give you more to draw from.

You said you’re a bit on the shy side…. Before we wrap up, can I put you on the spot and have you share an embarrasing moment in your career? I think pretty much everyone has one.

(Smiles. Thinks.)  Okay, here’s one.  At the beginning of a scene I was doing, there was supposed to be a jazz song playing. But one time the wrong song played, and it was very sexual, nothing to do with the scene. And I had to dance for a long time to that music with a teddy bear. Can you imagine? I’m dancing to a sexual song with a teddy bear, and my scene partner is looking at me like what is going on!  But as we know… the show must go on…. and it did…. It went on and on and on.

Ha! THAT is a good one!  I think we can end on that note. Thank you so much for being here with us, Lisette. We wish you well in your career!