Dream Team Diehard

Interviews

Marem Hassler

AUGUST 10,

2016

 

 

Image © Karl Preston

 

Marem Hassler’s beginnings in art and entertainment were in her homeland Switzerland, where her study of theatre and then music saw her sign with one of Britain's top pop music producers, and she travelled extensively writing with and for industry producers and artists alike.

 

Following drama school, both commercial and acting roles came her way, and she found one of her earliest fanbases in television as the feisty and glamorous football agent/chief executive Pilar Hernandez in Sky TV's Dream Team.

 

And yes, it was her work in the Gossard Wonderbra "Bus" advert which made us all think again about what would happen should we have an unfortunate encounter with the emergency services!

 

Having made a splash in Britain and Europe, Marem has begun a new chapter in the United States, continuing to act and also branching out into directing and writing, whilst becoming a partner in her own production company Viscus Film.

 

She received widespread recognition for the acclaimed short film Duo, which she co-wrote and starred in. In this exclusive interview Marem discusses all the above, alongside her projects currently entering festivals, in post and pre-production and her beginnings in an upcoming epic lead role adapted from a best-selling book.

 

Hi Marem. So we'll start at the beginning. How did it begin for you getting into acting and performing?

 

Hi:)) I was born and raised into a highly artistic family, my dad is a filmmaker/artist and my mum was a performer and now a sculptor. I don't think I stood much of a chance to take a different path lol! Even though I studied law for a year it was very fast clear that this was not my thing:)) I went to theatre school as a kid but then decided to go into music. I explored that professionally as a signed and published singer/ songwriter as I was going to drama school. In the end Acting just organically took over.

 
You hit a high note with a part in the
Hollywood blockbuster "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life", but presumably due to overtime, the scenes never made the screen. It must have been a great experience to have been cast here for one of your earliest acting credits?

It was amazing for sure, I was very lucky.- and yes the edit room, us actors shudder at times lol! As a filmmaker I know that sometimes good stuff doesn't make it and it's always a struggle to let that go. As an actor you just really wished your scene made it lol! But good friends usually manage to pour some prospective into a nice glass of wine lol!
 
You've featured in more than a dozen commercials, many of which are available to view on your site. Ranging from the memorable Gossard Wonderbra "Bus" and as the Blue Cat in Thompson Local Directory's "Paintball". One which had a great impact when it first aired would be the Ford Focus "No", to the tune of James Brown's "This is a Man's World". Are you proud that this one in particular is so memorable?

Absolutely. I got to work commercials (and still do lol) during a time when there was a lot of money poured into that sector. I got to travel the world and experience some wonderful adventures. In particular the Ford Focus spots were shot by Paul Street, who also lives in LA and is one of my dearest friends and mentors. I loved doing commercials because it always brought me in contact with filmmakers that understood the restraints of time and the importance of visual esthetics - up to this date I believe it has informed my own filmmaking in terms of production and understanding that regardless of the story you long to tell- be very clear who you are telling it to.
 

 

 

 

 

Images © Brendan Norman

 

 

When we were first introduced to you as Pilar Hernandez in Dream Team, she was a whirlwind that came, made an impact and went only to return a major player almost immediately. Was this promotion from guest part to regular character something you were aware would be happening since the time of your audition, or was it something that was realised after the producers saw you in action and thought "This character has potential to go further"?

It really happened quite unexpectedly lol. I was signed on as a guest star, but soon after got the call offering to be part of the regular cast. I actually remember that phone call. My agent called me and I was hanging up a painting- nail and hammer in hand. When she told me I couldn't stop squealing (much like a dolphin convention), but I was swinging the hammer in excitement. My husband at the time (ex husband now lol) asked me gently to put the hammer down before I'd continue my happy dance. A very fond memory indeed.
 

As an actress you no doubt use different dialects quite often for many different parts. Some of these wouldn't be for a long duration, so was it a challenge to perform the Spanish accent for the best part of two years that you played Pilar, or was it something that came naturally with you being multi-lingual yourself?

 

As an actor you always hope to play a part you love or grow to love. In this case, I really liked Pilar, she had a lot punch so the accent kind of lent itself in exploring that. She rolled the r's, her consonants were harsher and yet at times when her softer side was revealed the accent would become more melodious. And of course you learn the lines only with the accent, at least I would and that helped. Being multi-lingual helped in terms of maybe having more of a short cut into not just the language but also the mentality and behavior of Pilar.

 
Storyline-wise, as a female figurehead at the club, Pilar (and yourself) are one of several Dream Team women who made their mark, during a time when real-life women in prominent roles at football clubs was nowhere near like it is today. Does this make you proud that you added your bit towards this and it's still remembered?

Very much, art allows to imagine things and bring it to the consciousness of the audience. Much like the saying: if you can dream it you can be it (I think thats how it goes).

Having said that I don't want to take away from the fact that women were represented in every aspect of the show. Including creators,writers, producers, directors and many of the crew were women. I think that spirit of female ass kicking carried through on and off set lol! Which maybe helped bringing those roles onto the screen.

 

 

 

 

Image © Karl Preston

Image © Ewan Phelan

 

 

You've spent time starring in theatre both in Britain and the US, which has included playing another leading-lady carrying with her a lot of emotional baggage, Lady Macbeth. Is there a separate buzz that comes from performing live to an audience that is different to when it is for the cameras?

 

It's like the same God, but different religion lol. There is something unique and scintillating knowing that a theatre performance happens right there, in the moment and only with the people that are sharing the same space. It's a sacred contract between you and the audience and the trust they put in you sometimes pushes you to bring out stuff you never thought you could. It's a rush. Having said that, bad theatre is brutal. You never get that time back lol! 

I love film because of the intimacy and that it is a lasting documentation of a fleeting moment. Since I'm a filmmaker too I probably catch myself more often thinking in terms of how I would like to capture this on film versus putting up a play.

Just the other day I was working in front of the camera on a project that was shooting on actual film, something that has become increasingly rare. When director Ayasylla Ghosn (who undoubtedly will define cinema landscape in the future to come), called action and the camera starting rolling it made sound, and there was almost this feeling of the camera being completely alive, that the sound was it's breath. And it personalized the experience very much. As actors we are taught the camera is the eye of the world looking at you, but sometimes that world is tiny and more precious because of it. It was a great experience. So I guess the answer would be I love both for different reasons lol!


You've continued to star across a range of television, movie, and shorts. Amongst this was the acclaimed BBC/HBO mini-series "House of Saddam", a slick, far-reaching production based on real events. How did you tackle playing a real life person in this, the daughter-in-law of Saddam Hussein?

 

It was interesting and important to come from a perspective of curiosity. There were so many opinions floating about of who this family was and I'm sure some of them based on solid accounts, but as an actor I just wanted her to be human. Dealing with human conditions that we all relate to. Loss, fear, hurt and always love of course.
 

Aside from your own work as a performer, you have your own production company, Viscus Film in partnership with your drama school friend Andrea L Goldman. Based in Los Angeles, it is described as having an "avant-garde approach to telling stories on film." Tell us more about it...

 

Well we are two women, and dramatic actresses at that lol! We founded this company because we really wanted to cater to a female driven and bohemian content and audience. The name Viscus - really says it all, as a noun it means: flesh internal, organs, bowels entrails and heart. As a verb it means to purge stories. So - story telling that comes from that place. We write, produce, act and direct and very often collaborate with other people- and include the community that we are part of.
 

 

 

 

Image © Nicholas J. Reid

Image © Paul Street

 

 

You've also branched out behind the camera too, in particular co-writing the short "Duo", which also saw you win Best Actress at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival. That must be a proud acknowledgement?

 

yes lol! that was an amazing moment. I wrote Duo with director and actor Karl E. Landler because we were just done with waiting for people to give us permission to do what we loved doing lol! So we wrote it in 3 days, shot it in 48 hours on a road trip to Vegas on the hottest day of the year with no air conditioning lol! You really know who your friends are after that- and we had amazing friends. Since then I've written and directed two more shorts (The exodus of the ladybird), which is entering the festivals now and "Mute" which is going into post production. And the feature "Pen Pals", that I wrote and will direct and act in, is now in pre production. So a lot to do for sure lol. But I love every moment of it.

Recently, you were back in a series regular role as Lt. Erica Whitney in HULU's original series "South Beach". Was this a fun project, it certainly looks it!
 

Very much so. I got to work with director Joshua Caldwell, which was great because we've worked on previous projects before that and just recently I got to work with him again on the feature "Negative". I love love love playing strong roles that have complicated lives lol. 


You've just completed the filming of "The Russian Doll", described as an LGBT thriller. What can we expect from that?

 

I'm excited about that because for once I get to play the softer love interest. And of course my love interest is a woman. It was a wonderful experience, I was a little nervous, as there are some steamy love scenes but Director Ed Gaffney really created this safe environment. The entire set was so supportive to the fragility and sensuality of the characters. 

And I had a very good coach for the love making department - and yes we should all update our knowledge regarding that from time to time- just saying lol! 

 

 

 

As Melanie in “Duo” (with Karl E. Landler) Image © Emma K. Studio Photography

As Ladybird in “The Exodus of the Ladybird” Image © Brittney Najar

 

 

You've certainly got a lot more upcoming projects on the horizon for the rest of this year (and even beyond!). Are there any others you can tell us about?

yes!!:))

Actors Anonymous is being released this year, this is a film produced and acted in by James Franco

I shot a pilot called DAD Inc, a super fun project that stars creator/director/writer: Jack Roberts, Julie Dray from BBC's "Crashing" and Marshall Bell from "total Recall" and "starship trooper", and in general just an amazing cast.

 

A new project, I'd like to share just got green lit to start filming this winter. It is called Riley Parra. Based on the book by Geonn Cannon with the same title. I get to play lead character Detective Riley Parra, who finds herself fighting all kinds of forces in her quest to make "no-man's land" safe again. 

This is a Tello Films production, which I'm super excited about. Tello is the leading worldwide platform for LGBTQ content, and when co founder and director Christin Baker approached me with the project, I was just so thrilled to bring this action driven story to life. 

I've started the physical prep this week which is super fun, as there is a lot of fighting and tactical training. I have an amazing team in place helping me - Jerry Ford my Trainer has devised an entire program geared towards the character's needs. Speed, strength and agility and of course fight training. Then I work closely with a dear friend and former British Forces Operator, his company Artifex is based in Orange County - so I go there pretty much once a week for target practice. He's been cranking the training up to the next level. So by the time we are ready to shoot the action sequences will be authentic and intense. Music to any actor's ear lol.

 

Another project that is gearing momentum is a series called "Call me Lili". About a french woman navigating love and life in Hollywood. I got to work again with the wonderful Aurelie Meriel, who stars in my movie "MUTE", and with award winning director Ayasylla Ghosn. It's a testament that your very talented colleagues become your very dear friends.
 

Thanks Marem for giving your time to us here. Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I'm really grateful and honored to have been a part of dream Team and that what we did still brings joy to people. That's really all one can hope for as an artist- to bring something to life and share it. So thank you for giving us this platform:))

 

 

Marem Hassler

Official Site  IMDb  Twitter  Instagram  Facebook