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Friday, Jan. 23, 2009
Arta Dobroshi: A role model
By KAORI SHOJI
Like her character, Lorna, in "Le Silence de Lorna," 29-year-old Arta Dobroshi was born in a less prosperous, unstable region of Europe (in her case Kosovo), but unlike Lorna, she has studied in the United States, traveled extensively, and has been studying the performing arts since elementary school.
"Le Silence de Lorna" marks her first starring role, and she mastered the French language in an eight-week period before shooting. (The directors, who were on the same promotion tour to Tokyo with Dobroshi, were loud in their praise of her "exotic" French, defined by a heavy Slavic accent.) A dedicated professional who describes herself as "having a knack for intense concentration," she professes she became Lorna during the whole of the production process. "I like Lorna for the way she changes from a gloomy, tired young woman into someone strong and more sure of herself. She may end up less happy, but at least she's in some control," she said during an interview at the Hotel Seiyo.
It seems you have a knack for languages.
Yes, everyone here (in Tokyo) seems surprised that I can speak English, and learned French in such a short period of time. But in Kosovo, it was natural for everyone to speak English. Just like everyone in Holland and Scandinavia can speak English. It's just part of the culture. When I was growing up, we spoke German, Albanian and Italian in the house, too. This was good as it gave me a sense of the world and an ear for different kinds of dialogue.
What did you think about working with the Dardenne Brothers, and had you seen their films before?
It was, of course, a very wonderful experience. I had seen "L'Enfant" and loved it. The Brothers always tell stories about human beings in difficult situations, but it's impossible to judge them. The directors certainly never judge, and I thought that was so refreshing.
What about the shooting process, how did that work out?
We had a month and half of rehearsals before shooting, but in that time I threw myself into the persona of Lorna. The Dardennes left me to try things out and one of them was working at a dry cleaners for two weeks. I thought if I was going to be Lorna, then I had better be thorough. I also stayed alone for as much as possible — no partying, no drinking, or anything like that. She didn't have friends, she was isolated and alone, and had no one to talk over things with. I wanted to taste that, to really become her. My goal was to understand Lorna and her story, to understand the situation that made her what she is.
How would you describe yourself as an actress, apart from having that intense power of concentration?
This role opened doors for me and pushed my name onto a new level. People now know about me worldwide and this makes me feel like I graduated from the Dardenne filming school! On the other hand, it doesn't matter for me whether it's a big budget film or not. Once I accept a project I put 100 percent of myself into it, no matter what it is. I do it with everything I have. Because, for me, acting is not just a job, it's a way of being. I don't know how I would do it otherwise. With me, it's all or nothing.