Friday, April 23, 2021

Dafne Keen talks His Dark Materials

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Your father is actor Will Keen, who co-stars with you in His Dark Materials, and your mother’s a stage director and your own personal acting coach. How crucial of a role do they play when it comes to you selecting your next role? Is it always 100 percent your choice?

I now have more power [to choose roles] than I used to because obviously I started acting when I was eight and I’m not going to pick my parts at eight. My mom has always been there for me. My mom’s a writer, a director, and an actress. She honors me with her acting skills. My mom’s been there since day one. She helped me get my first audition, my first job, she’s always there — she’s 1,000 percent. She always gives me advice on jobs, and funnily enough, every time we’ve turned down a job, it’s just turned out that she was right. She’s mentor number one.

You’ve already been in a big X-Men movie and now you’re in this big fantasy trilogy on HBO Max, do you ever sit back and marvel at how much you’ve already accomplished in such a short time?

No, not really. I think it’s just crazy because I have a very normal life when I’m not on set. And then it hits me when I go to an award show and I’m like, “What is going on?” And then it’s crazy because it suddenly hits me. I suddenly go, “This thing that I was filming for six months is now out and millions of people watched it and I’m in it.” And this isn’t just something I did for myself because when you’re filming, it feels really intimate. And I don’t think you really realize until it’s out, that it’s going to be out. It just feels like something that you’ve had between the crew and the co-stars and the producers, and then it’s out and suddenly everywhere.

Do you have a disciplined schedule when it comes to balancing your personal life, acting, and going to school?

When I’m not filming, I’m in school. I go to a state school in Madrid. I’ve always just stayed in school. I never thought about leaving because I just feel like I really have a privileged and weird lifestyle. I want it to stay as normal as possible, which I do. So in Spain, I don’t tell anyone, except for my close friends, that I’m an actress. If they recognize me, I’m not going to deny it. I have in the past, but I’m not going to, if it’s at my school, I’m not going to be like, “No.” But my parents have been very good at that. When I’m on set, I have tutoring hours, mandatory teacher hours. When I come to Spain, I’m just at school. I just keep a very low profile.

Do you see yourself acting for the rest of your life? Or are there other avenues you want to explore? Maybe producing, writing or, who knows, maybe there’s another completely different career idea that you have brewing in the back of your mind?

I see [acting] as my future. I don’t think it’s the only thing I’ll do. I really want to try other stuff, like directing, writing and designing. I don’t know. Definitely not producing. I absolutely admire producers, but producing a film is different from being a producer. So being a producer, I would be incapable, too much organization, too many numbers. It’s too much. I could not do it. But I would definitely want to wander into writing, directing, and designing and stuff.

What’s your advice to young actors who see you as inspiration? Let’s say there’s a young boy or girl out there who wants to be an actor or maybe they’re struggling to find an audition or having a hard time getting their foot in the door. Do you have any personal advice for them?

I’d say watch good films, watch good theater — go to the theater as much as you can, because that is the source, that is where films come from. I’d say learn, be curious, be creative and try to practice as much as you can. I know practicing acting is quite hard, but when I go home, I rehearse my scenes. I’m very disciplined about how I do my work. I analyze, I do my research. I do everything. And then in my free time, I’ll get into character and I’ll just do an improvisation. Do empathy exercises. Try to imagine what it’s like in another person’s life. Just try to stay in contact with your emotions mostly, I’d say.

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