Meeting with the young actress who bursts the screen by finding her father Alexandre Rockwell, 7 years after her debut as a child in Little Feet
With Sweet thing, Alexandre Rockwell, the director ofIn the soup in the 90s, signs the chronicle of a dysfunctional family through the eyes of two teenagers in search of survival, between a loving father but carried on the drink, an absent mother and a stepfather with the instincts of sexual predator. He finds there the ardor of his first films, this constant in his cinema to seek the light in what humanity can carry more black. And in the role of the older sister, Billie, he reveals an actress of captivating cinégénie and accuracy who, in addition, sublimely sings the Sweet thing by Van Morrison which gives its title to the film. His own daughter, Lana, aged 18, whom he had previously led as a child in Little feet, remained, him unpublished in France and promised to a leading career in front of the camera. We take the bet.
Do you remember how your father first told you about Sweet thing ?
Lana Rockwell: Yes, very good! (laughs) We were lying on the couch with my brother. And my father, who was working on two scripts at the time, just asked us if we would like to do a movie together like we had done. Little feet, but with a more intense, less childish story. And my brother Nico like me immediately said yes. I devoured his script and immediately saw that he hadn’t lied to us about his intensity! (laughs) And then he started to describe to me in detail the character of Billie that I was going to play and my impatience to play him kept growing.
You had so far only one experience as an actress under the direction of your father in Little feet, when you were a child. This role of Billie and this film clearly mark a higher stage and by extension more complex. How did you become this character?
I had really turned Little feet with all the candor of childhood. So I can’t say that I approached Sweet thing, with strong experience as an actress. Getting into a character was a really very theoretical notion. So I acted purely instinctively. As music plays a central role in Billie’s life, I totally immersed myself in her musical universe where the songs of Billie Holiday and Van Morrison reign. Besides, on the set, later, I’ll never feel more Billie than during the scene where I sing Sweet thing by Van Morrison. Before the shoot, I also started to write his diary. But what was really decisive for me was the meeting and the exchanges with Will Patton who plays Billie’s father. He has been incredibly generous to me. He knew how to make the environment of our stages as welcoming as it was enveloping and I felt comfortable asking him all the questions I had. Finally, obviously being directed by her father also simplifies things because there too I could spontaneously share my doubts and questions without fear of being judged.
MEET ALEXANDRE ROCKWELL, THE DIRECTOR OF SWEET THING
You felt more pressure than on Little feet ?
Oh yes ! At the time of Little feet, I was 8 years old. I didn’t really realize what I was doing. Here, I was more aware of what I had to play. But then again Will Patton was great at relieving me of stress. I think of the emotional scene where he cuts my hair. That day, there were some issues with the light and the whole technical team was focused on it to waste as little time as possible racing it. And it was Will who sounded the alarm and told everyone that, in the midst of this commotion, first and foremost, I had to create a cocoon for me. Will has been my guardian angel throughout this adventure.
Sweet thing Made you want to pursue your nascent acting career?
I almost only shot with my father, except for a short film at college. And even there he was on the set! (laughs) So to answer your question specifically, I would have to have some experience without him. But deep down, I feel like I would like to continue playing. Like writing or being behind the camera for that matter. I have the feeling that all of this is now ingrained in me. It is now up to me to take lessons, to pass auditions so that this desire becomes concrete.