Lola Bessis

The 17th arrondissement, Paris. BREAKOUT: Co-wrote, co-directed, and starred in the comic drama Swim Little Fish Swim (2014) at 21. UP NEXT: Writing, directing, and starring in Destiny, an L.A. epic about a retired Hollywood icon reckoning with her past.

COLLEEN KELSEY: When did you realize you were interested in cinema?

LOLA BESSIS: Pretty early, actually. I saw the Marilyn Monroe movies; my mom liked Jacques Demy, The Young Girls of Rochefort [1968] and that stuff. I was fascinated by them. I was very shy as a child. I liked to be in my own bubble and act in it with my teddy bears. My mom put me in the acting class at school. Then, when I was 12, my babysitter was in film school, and she asked me to act in a short film. That’s where I realized that there was a world behind the camera. My parents were very scared about me wanting to be an actress. So when I shot that short film, it seemed obvious—I should direct my own movies, so I can act in them. Right after high school, I started studying film analysis and theory. I wanted to learn the technical side; that’s why I moved to New York, to study filmmaking.

KELSEY: Who would play you in the movie of your life?

BESSIS: I guess it depends who’s directing. People always tell me I look like Rose Byrne, so maybe I would pick her. Maybe Woody Allen could make a funny movie out of my life.

KELSEY: Did you watch a lot of old Hollywood movies in preparation for your new script?

BESSIS: I watched Fedora [1979] and Sunset Boulevard [1950]; also more recent movies from David Lynch, like Mulholland Drive [2001]; all the L.A. movies. I also liked, in a similar theme, Clouds of Sils Maria. It’s not Hollywood, but it talks about the actor’s job; it’s very cinematic. It’s about double personalities and playing a part that is not you. 

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