INTERVIEW ERIN WALSH
PHOTO CHRISTIAN HOGSTEDT
Meet Aisling Franciosi! SBJCT spoke with A on the occasion of her latest film about feeling the fear and jumping anyways- a timely suggestion of self empowerment that is very much in keeping with the times we are living in. Read on for more…
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Erin Walsh Hello Aisling! Thank you so much for taking the time to have some fun with us- we are so excited to feature you and all you have been up to. I would love to start at the beginning- Tell me a bit about your upbringing and how you ended up in this biz.
Aisling Franciosi I lived in Italy when I was little but most of my childhood and formative years were spent in Dublin, Ireland. It’s home to me. I always had a pretty active imagination and when I was six did a drama class. That was it. I told my mum there and then I’d be an actor and I never changed my mind. I loved how it made me feel.
EW What moment career-wise thus far has really made you feel extremely proud- like, “wow, I have made it”…
AF I don’t have the perception of having “made it” (yet! haha) but there have been a few moments along the way where I stop for a minute on a film set and think “Woah. I’m actually doing what I said I always wanted to do.” I feel incredibly lucky. Not many can say that.
EW I would love to know more about The Unforgivable-tell me everything. What drew you to the project, the role, what can we expect?
AF The Unforgivable is a story about the lengths we’ll go to to protect someone we love. Sandra Bullock plays a woman coming out of prison after nearly 20 years and she longs to reconnect with her estranged sister who doesn’t know of her existence. I was drawn to the project because I had seen Nora’s (director) first film and was excited to work with her and the likes of such legends as Sandra, Viola Davis and Rob Morgan. I play Ruth’s (played by Sandra) estranged sister.
EW Any lessons from filming you found you take with you into your life?
AF Feel the fear and do it anyway. It’s one I try to remember generally but I was terrified at the prospect of having to play piano in front of people (I had a real mental block with it) and being forced to just get on with it actually helped me break through that stage fright/fear.
EW How do you go about deciding what projects to take on?
AF I feel it’s my duty to say that I don’t necessarily get to “choose” all the projects I do. I’m not at the point of just having offers left, right and centre. I audition…like, a lot. Having said that, I do frequently decline to audition for something if I think the material is poor. Also, if I am offered something and I feel in my gut that it’s really not for me, I will decide not to do it if I can afford not to. Ultimately, I look for good writing. That’s the most important thing to me. And then the people involved.
EW You have several projects lined up that we can be looking forward to- God’s Creatures, Last Voyage of the Demeter, Rothko- can you give us a little soundbite on each?
AF God’s Creatures is a beautiful film I shot in Donegal last year with some great and talented people. I am so excited to see it. It’s about a mother and son relationship set against the backdrop of small town dynamics and small town mentality. The Last Voyage of the Demeter is totally different. A studio horror epic set on a ship with Dracula. It was fun to be a part of something big about an iconic monster.
EW What is most helpful in the process of finding a character? And how do you go about shedding one?
AF The writing. For me that really is the starting point. The better the writing the easier it is to really start building a character. I like to do a lot of research too. I like imagining what music the character would listen to, what books they would read, their favorite colours and their ticks and habits. Obviously collaborating with the costume and hair and MU designers is important too. Generally, I don’t find it difficult to leave the character at work but with something like The Nightingale that’s a lot harder to do. It really depends from job to job but chatting with friends and family generally helps me feel grounded.
EW What helps you stay sane and tethered these days?
AF Family, friends and exercise.
EW Any dream role you hope to come your way?
AF I’d love to do a musical movie. Or a dark comedy.
EW Do you often get “pinch yourself” moments when huge opportunities come through?
AF I’m trying to get better at acknowledging the “pinch me” moments. Usually, I’m too focused on not screwing up or just looking for the next thing that I don’t stop and realise what has happened til it’s over. I’d like to get better at allowing myself to feel the wonder in the moment.
EW Do you consider acting or the arts as a vocation or something you were called to do?
AF I personally couldn’t imagine doing anything else. And believe me I’ve tried imagining it. When things have been really hard I’ve found myself thinking “why the heck couldn’t I have fallen in love with something else?!”. But even in the hard times I’ve still wanted to pursue acting and my dream so…
EW What are your thoughts on purpose- like do you see a greater meaning in your work and what you are called to do? And what else do you feel particularly called to do?
AF I think art and film have a hugely important role in society. Sometimes it’s there for entertainment, which in itself is important, but oftentimes it is a reflection of our society or a tool to inspire change. I think always questioning the world around us is a good thing, so I like work that prompts us to do that. Not work that tells us what to think but to think for ourselves.
The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” ― Albert Einstein.
EW What or who inspires you?
AF My mum inspires me. She gave so much of herself to my brothers and me while also working full time. In terms of inspiration for my work, I find interactions with new people inspiring…literature…Oh, and I love people watching.
EW How do you connect your spirit with your work and your day to day?
AF Mmmm I’m not sure I know how to answer this. At least, not eloquently. I really feel like I am my work. Which isn’t actually healthy but I find it difficult to separate myself from my work and my hopes and art. It feels like they’re all connected all the time. But I’m working on it.
EW How do you like to spend your days when you aren’t working?
AF I mean there’s the usual life admin, laundry, cleaning and all that. But I do love catching up with friends and family as much as possible when I’m free. You often miss out on birthdays, important occasions and just gatherings in general when you’re away on set so I like to try and make up for it when I can. I love reading just for pleasure, cooking, DIY hahah. And, again, working out.
EW What are some of your favorite ways to pay it forward?
AF I like doing it in an everyday way. Putting in a good word for someone, amplifying someone’s achievements, mentoring (though I feel like I still don’t know what I’m doing…), giving a leg up. I really do think community is so important and it’s getting harder to find. Every day kindnesses or ways of “paying it forward” are so undervalued but they are so important.
EW Anything in the way of a motto you subscribe to?
AF Feel the fear and do it anyway.
I also really like this quote: The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” ― Albert Einstein.
EW Tell us how you use your platform to pay it forward.
AF I have a constant internal debate around the idea of platform particulalry when it comes to online. For example, I dislike social media. I actually don’t put much of myself or my life and thoughts on instagram. Not because I don’t have things I care about but I don’t like the move towards assuming someone thinks one way or another based on what they do or don’t post on instagram. It’s so reductive and I don’t like engaging with it. Having said that, it can be a useful tool. Going forward, I hope to be able to do more work with environmental and educational charities.
EW Do you keep anything in the way of a 5 or 10 year plan?
AF I don’t keep a 5 or 10 year plan, no. I used to and at the 10 year mark I couldn’t have been further from where I imagined I’d be. It left me feeling like a bit of a failure. But with a bit of distance I realised in those 10 years I had achieved a lot of things, just in a different way than I had planned. I have things I want to achieve but sometimes life can take you along the scenic route to get there…
EW What do you wish people would stop asking you in interviews?
AF I don’t appreciate questions about my romantic life. I never answer them.
EW What do you wish you were asked more often?
AF Anything silly. I find that because of the work I tend to do…I always get asked about really heavy or serious topics. Which is great, of course. But I’m also a goofball so I appreciate some silliness. I think it’s important to know how to be silly as an adult.
EW What makes you excited about the coming year?
AF The prospect of the unknown and what could happen. Oh and the release (hopefully) of a film I shot called God’s Creatures.
EW Book we should be reading?
AF The Body Keeps the Score.
EW What should we be eating?
AF Great bread. It gets such hate but it is the best thing in the world.
EW Aisling, What’s Your SBJCT? What really moves and motivates you?
AF Curiosity and learning. About people, about our world…