Some actors will show up on set with their lines memorized and ready to hit their mark. It’s a “keep it simple stupid” method that, if it works, shouldn’t be criticized. For Moran Atias, playing a desperate gypsy in director Paul Haggis‘ complex (and compelling) drama Third Person required a different approach. Saying the lines is one thing, but living the part is another.
Haggis told the actress to cut down her shaving regime for the production’s duration, but she did more than let her hair grow for Third Person. “Moran moved into a place where there was no electricity, no water, and she didn’t bathe,” said Haggis during the film’s press conference in Los Angeles. “So we didn’t hang out…”
Moran then playfully interjected, “OK, enough with the details.”
The devil, especially when acting is concerned, is in the details. One of Third Person’s main storylines centers on the relationship between Monika (Atias), a gypsy whose daughter is abducted, and Scott, a morally questionable businessman (Adrien Brody) she meets at a bar. Whether Monika is playing this American for a chump is a puzzle that isn’t solved until the film’s moments, and the mesmeric and tense interplay between Atias and Brody is one of Third Person’s most inspired aspects.
Her decision to travel to Italy and live among gypsies helped build an inner life for Monika. “All these activities just helped me feel confident about why (Monika) wasn’t apologetic on what she has become,” said the actress, who will also be seen in the freshman FX series Tyrant. “If she needs to take a guy on a journey, then she will, because she needs to survive.”
Click on the media bar below to hear Atias talk about the acting prep she did for Third Person:
Third Person, which co-stars Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde, and Maria Bello, opens June 20 in New York and Los Angeles.