Sandra Hüller is not about to leave the screens. A coincidence of the calendar, of which she is the first to be amazed. While Anatomy of a Fall by Justine Triet, Palme d'Or in which she plays a novelist accused of having pushed her husband into a void, ends her career in theaters, the German actress resurfaces where she is least expected not: in a costume film recounting the last years of Elizabeth of Austria, aka Sissi.
Released in theaters this Wednesday, Sissi and I depicts the escapades in the Mediterranean of the empress, played by Susanne Wolff, and her Hungarian lady-in-waiting Irma Sztarazay, played by Sandra Hüller. A life on the road, a crucible of a close friendship which sometimes borders on the grip. Turning its back on the biopic, this portrait is more fiction and free interpretation, warns Sandra Hüller. “Director Frauke Finsterwalder did not encourage us to inquire and research beyond what we already knew. She didn't want any obstacle to our imagination,” underlines the actress. In fact, the soundtrack of Sissi and I is full of pop and electro hits, while the outfits worn by the monarch and her followers combine refined shapes and contemporary accents.
“Frauke approached me saying he had written the role for me. I was intrigued because I didn’t recognize myself in Irma,” confides Sandra Hüller. The Thuringian native struggled to unlock the character “with such childish enthusiasm in an adult’s body.” “Irma is so curious, so loving, never quick to judge, she takes things as they come. May feel a great deal of pain and decide to let go and be free of it.” It was her time in front of Jonathan Glazer's camera in The Area of Interest, where she played the wife of the Nazi commander of Auschwitz, who helped him. “To go from a being who feels nothing to someone who feels everything.”
Like the hellish train that Sissi puts those around her through, sometimes tender, angry and manipulative, Sissi and I, filmed between Malta, Austria, Bavaria and Switzerland, has reserved its share of challenges for Sandra Hüller who had to learn to ride a horse and made many dives into icy waters. “Like the characters we play, we have never stayed in the same place for more than a week, it transforms the soul and the perception of reality,” notes the 45-year-old actress. For Sandra Hüller, Frauke Finsterwalder's Sissi pursues "an illusory freedom born of despair." Impossible to escape the Emperor and his Court.
Beginning as a black comedy - Irma has difficulty adapting to the fanciful rites of the household so far removed from imperial protocol - Sissi and I turns into a platonic idyll before turning into tragedy. In the wake of the film Corsage, Sissi and I go against the image of an amorphous and depressive Sissi. “I find it fascinating that so many film and series projects are resurrecting Sissi with such different approaches even if I do not believe that she was a feminist figure,” analyzes Sandra Hüller.
Unlike the Palme d'Or Anatomy of a Fall. Sandra Hulller admits to having been amazed by the precision and complexity of the scenario by Justine Triet and her companion Arthur Harari: “They brought together everything that a couple usually slips under the carpet. They explored dark corners.” From the first scene, the one where her character gives an interview to a student, the actress admits to having been “caught and destabilized”: “At first, we don’t really know who is speaking in this tone, an old man to a young woman ? I played Sandra, the dogged doubter.” Spectators entrusted her with intimate life moments, explaining that they had long waited for Anatomy of a Fall's truth-telling speech on rivalries and inequalities within couples, and touched her heart.
And to say: “I grew up in a family without a single artist in its ranks. I was the first to have a vocation. I didn't know how to go about exploring this desire. What studies to follow? Being an actor means constantly trying without having the guarantee of being seen. I started, telling myself that if I failed, I would do something else. I never suspected I would have a career that would take me beyond Germany.” “Who knows what language my next project will be in? » smiles the one that French moviegoers will find in theaters on January 31 in The Zone of Interest by Briton Jonathan Glazer, another shock wave at Cannes this year.