Interview with actress Carolina BartczakJune 2, 2016
Recently, we had the chance to talk with Carolina Bartczak, who is appearing in the new film from the X-Men franchise, X-Men: Apocalypse. She discusses the world of the smaller films versus blockbusters, the road she traveled to become an actress and what it was like working with Michael Fassbender.
Now I read at one point you were studying biochemistry here in Toronto at U of T. How did you move from that into acting?
Carolina: Yeah I know, isn’t that gross? Oh god, I moved from biochemistry and got a job working in Macedonia and then I became a travel writer in Croatia and then at that point I thought, I think it might be fun to be an actor. I guess I was just trying to figure out in my early twenties what I wanted to do and I started working in TV production, and we would auditions for the TV show I was working on and I would watch these auditions and think, these people are having way more fun than I am and I don’t like it, so I’m going to give it a shot. So I went and registered for theater school in New York and I still didn’t know if I wanted to do it but then I signed up and it was like, well I guess now I have to.
So once you became part of the acting world, was there ever a time that you thought maybe I shouldn’t have done this and started thinking about another career path?
Carolina: Only about five times a day. Anyone who works in this industry understands how challenging it is and even then, I couldn’t have predicated just how challenging it really was, and still is, but it also forced me to become so much more focused, so much more willing to try different things. I would never be on social media if I wasn’t acting, I wouldn’t have Instagram, I wouldn’t have Facebook so it definitely pushes you to become a stronger, better version of yourself. So yeah, it’s still a challenge and every day I still think, am I ever going to work again? I heard and interview with Rose Byrne, I’m a big fan, and she said oh yeah, I’m afraid I’m never going to work again. Really, you’re afraid you’re not going to work again? Oh no, I’m in trouble!
You’ve done a lot of work in television and short movies as well. Was that by design or is that where the work basically took you?
Carolina: I started doing a bunch of shorts in Toronto basically out of trying to figure out how to learn more about the industry. If you don’t take things into your own hands you’re never going to learn. I don’t know if I’ll ever play the roles I really, really want to play unless I play them myself, so I moved into producing, partly out of curiosity to see how it happens on the other side of the camera but also because I want to take part in the actual production of media, of films, of TV and hopefully that is going to be something I can do at the same time. I think working with writers and directors is so much fun and it’s actually de-mystified acting for me because now watching from the other side of the camera I no longer wonder, oh why didn’t I get that part, I didn’t get it because I had brown hair and they already had three brown haired actors and they needed something else so I now can look at it with a much more objective perspective and not get hurt every time I don’t get something.
Can you tell me a little bit about the audition process for the role of Magda in the film X-Men: Apocalypse?
Carolina: Sure. My Montreal agent contacted me and said there was a part and at that point they hadn’t released much information and they sent a fake audition because they didn’t want to give away too much of the plot. They didn’t even say it was for X-Men, it was for a different movie, that’s how secretive they were. I didn’t even know what movie it was but I’m a bit of a sleuth online, asked a lot of questions and deduced what film it was and which part it was going to be. At that point they asked for an Eastern European looking person and I am Polish, was raised Polish, it’s my first language and so I was like I’m going to do better than that so I sent a regular tape and one with a Polish accent, in Polish, and I was like, you guys are hiring me. Later, when I talked to Bryan Singer’s assistant he said as soon as I saw your tape I called Bryan and said that’s the girl. This was so secretive, I shot this over a year ago and they told me the only person I was allowed to tell was my mom and I was like, what about my dad? I kept telling my mom, it’s a movie with Michael Fassbender and she’d say, who’s Michael Fassbender and I was like never mind. She’s a very safe person to tell movie secrets to, that’s for sure.
So once you found out you got the role of Magda, what did you do to prepare?
Carolina: Well, I didn’t have a lot of prep time. I think I got the part on April 1st of last year and they told me I wasn’t going to shoot until late July and then on April 20th they called me and said, just kidding, you’re shooting tomorrow. So I had the script for maybe three or four days, I did my research online about who Magda was in the comic books. The story is a little bit different in the comic books because there are so many different comic book worlds, I just needed to know where she was from, what her relationship was with Magneto, and then I had to deduce from the lines, I only had about ten pages of the script, what their relationship was like, how they met, where they were in their relationship and once I got to the set and finally met Michael, I mean he was so great, he was like, let’s just chat about where we think they are, what their relationship is like, what their dynamic is like at home and then because I had done all that prep work I had the answers for everything and he was like, yeah, I think that’s a really good idea and then I fainted.
What was it like not only being involved with a blockbuster movie like this, but a huge franchise as well?
Carolina: It’s intimidating, I’m not going to lie, it was very intimidating. But once you get on set and you see these people every day for three weeks, it becomes like a giant family and everyone on set is so excited to be part of the movie, all the actors, the producers even the gaffers are so excited to be part of the movie that it really was a lovely process. We would often each lunch together, we’d run into each other in Montreal and have dinner together so it couldn’t have been a better experience. There are so many people that worked on this film and there is such a massive following and I mean the story is so beautiful, so relevant and all about prejudice and that’s a universal story, that story is never going to go away and so I think that’s why people connect to it because we’ve all felt at one time, someone being prejudice towards us at some point in our lives so I don’t think that story is ever going to get boring.
The movie industry is currently being dominated by blockbuster films, especially from the comic book world. Do you think there is still room out there for the little guy, such as independent or short films?
Carolina: I hope so. Those are the films that I usually navigate towards, like I made my last film, a short film for a thousand dollars with some friends. I mean I’m not saying it’s the best, we could barely afford to get it color corrected but I really hope so because I believe those indie films, those short films, those are the ones that are telling stories from other people’s perspectives that might not fit into the Hollywood ‘spectrum’. You can really get a glimpse into someone else’s life through these independent films.
Who has been the biggest influence in your career, both personally and professionally?
Carolina: I would have to say Michael Fassbender. He is my favorite actor to watch, I love his career, I love the movies he chooses, he has worked with so many of the directors that I want to work with and his parts are always so meaty and vulnerable. He has always been such a massive inspiration to me which made me very nervous. I don’t know how to play it cool, I was just sweating the entire film, sweating profusely.
Can you tell me about some other projects that you have coming up?
Carolina: Yeah, I just finished a short that I’m sending to festivals, it’s called Fox Trouble, and I’m trying to get it into TIFF, which would be amazing. I’m also trying to get a feature off the ground right now so we’ll see how that goes. I have plans to do more shorts, it’s a great way to make a lot of mistakes cheaply. I would never recommend to an aspiring film maker to try and do a feature, make your mistakes where there’s no budget, where you can get halfway through a movie and decide, this is terrible, and scrap it and start again. You can’t do that if you commit to a feature, so think of shorts as great practice.
I want to thank Carolina for taking the time to talk with us