TIFF Interview: Sidse Babett Knudsen Talks “150 Milligrams”

Photo by Stephen Freiheit - © Stephen Freiheit
Sidse Babett Knudsen. Photo by Stephen Freiheit – © Stephen Freiheit

Nothing can be better than talking with an actor to discuss the character he or she played or what is that was going on in their mind once they picked the role. Well, during the Toronto International Film Festival, I had the most pleasant time with Sidse Babett Knudsen who can be seen now in HBO’s highly popular WESTWORLD and Ron Howard‘s INFERNO. However, there is another film you should certainly see regardless of which part of the world you are in. It is Emmanuelle Bercot’s 150 Milligrams, which is based on a true story.

Sidse Babett Knudsen portrays a real character, Irène Frachon, a person who goes against corporation to save many lives. Here is why the interview with Sidse Babett Knudsen was a great addition to continue spreading out the word about Emmanuelle Bercot’s brilliantly crafted film.

MOVIEMOVESME: How did you get involved in the movie 150 milligrams?

Sidse Babett Knudsen: Well, they approached me quite a long time ago, about 4-5 years ago when it was just an idea and hadn’t written the script or anything. They saw an interview of me where I spoke French and then they came to meet me in Copenhagen. I’d agreed to meet them for a French film and they didn’t say what it was about. When they told, me I had to play a real, living French person, I thought to myself, “What am I doing!” But I was super excited, I went to Paris and met Irene. She completely blew me away; she’s an amazing woman. She’s so powerful and yet so silly! She kinda clownish and a real character. Then the script came much later.

MOVIEMOVESME: Did you have to work alongside Irene to get what really happened or just simply followed the script to get into her world?

Sidse Babett Knudsen: I read the script, one of the first drafts which was almost like a documentary. I remember there was this one scene which is not in the script anymore where she’s on a boat and trying to get wi-fi and she’s very frustrated about it. I just had the image of someone taking the phone and then walking, getting completely lost. This image stayed with me and that’s what they did with the car; stops the car, walks and ends up by the sea. When I met Irene, she was on the phone miming with this guy. They really wanted me to keep that so there’s quite a lot of miming going on.

MOVIEMOVESME: What is like to play someone who exists in real life?

Sidse Babett Knudsen: I think it helped a lot that I’m Danish and I’m playing a Frenchwoman. There’s already a distance there. So it was never a question of imitating her completely. The mix between creating a character for me and then imitating her is a mix we found along the way. There were some things I copied like physicality; she has a particular walk which I tried to imitate. That was fun! She has a very particular way of speaking but I don’t really look like her.

MOVIEMOVESME: What made you agree to be a part of this film?

Sidse Babett Knudsen: It was initially the idea of playing a real person-hero. A human being going up against something as massive as the pharmaceutical industry. It’s medicine and a business, but it’s not very healthy isn’t it? She is a very faceted human being; she’s in many ways an anti-hero. I loved being part of telling the story about not just waiting for the system to serve it on your lap. If you feel something unjust, react. I love that because we need that.

MOVIEMOVESME: What do you want the viewer to take from this film?

Sidse Babett Knudsen: I fortunately never have the answer to what I want the audience to take. Hopefully some sort of inspiration? I love every time she says, “But we have to” when she’s told “We can’t.” The only way to get anything done is doing it! Statistically, nothing is possible. I love that she doesn’t feel sorry for herself. She has to defend this thing and hopefully that could be inspiring.


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