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Hera Hilmar & Jihae Interview: Mortal Engines

Hera Hilmar is an Icelandic actress who graduated from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.  She is best known for playing Vanessa on the Starz series Da Vinci’s Demons. Hilmar’s latest role is Hester Shaw in Mortal Engines, a fantasy adventure film based on the popular book series of the same name.

Jihae is a South Korea-born singer-songwriter and actress who grew up in Nigeria, Sweden, and New York due to her father’s career as a diplomat. In 2009, she launched Septem, a music and multimedia company dedicated to music for production and social cause-based projects. In Mortal Engines, she plays Anna Fang, the leader of a resistance group trying to stop mobile cities from devouring Earth’s dwindling resources.

Screen Rant: Congratulations on a wonderful film. You guys are kind of like action heroes in this a bit?

Hera Hilmar: Yeah, kind of. I’d say so, yeah? Right?

Jihae: Maybe a little bit.

Screen Rant: Who do you think wins a fight? Katniss Everdeen or Hester Shaw?

Hera Hilmar: Yeah. Yeah. I've no doubt.

Jihae: Hester Shaw always. [chuckles]

Screen Rant: I think your character pretty much can take on most.

Jihae: Probably. Well, I've got the advantage of the sword and the guns. [chuckles]

Screen Rant: So, what did you guys think when you first read the script? What were your first impressions of it?

Jihae: Wild.

Hera Hilmar: Wild. Yeah.

Jihae: Crazy, surreal, bizarre. But totally awesome.

Hera Hilmar: Yeah.

Screen Rant: Did you have any idea of how massive these sets would be?

Hera Hilmar: Well, you kind of do from like when you read the script. But you don't fully realize what it's really going to be. And how much they actually created physically.

Jihae: Right. Until you step into it and you're just. Your jaw has dropped and it’s like, “Wow, this is incredible.”

Screen Rant: Both of you have building résumés right now. You were a pretty established, but your projects are getting bigger and bigger. Fair to say? This is probably the biggest project for both of you.

Hera Hilmar: Yeah, I mean, I guess in terms of, in that kind of a way. Yeah, absolutely.

Screen Rant: So, when you get done with something like this, do you just want to take a break? Or do you want to work on a small project? Or are you ready for the next big thing?

Hera Hilmar: Well, I mean, when we did stop filming, I took a few weeks where I traveled around New Zealand. But you know, we're still working actors or musicians. And you need to keep moving as human being in this life. And so, you don't just go like, “Well, that's it.”

Jihae: No. I mean, this is my first film. I only started acting a couple years ago. I went straight from this film to season two of Mars. And then I went straight to music.

Screen Rant: So, how's the music career going?

Jihae: It's going great.

Screen Rant: Bowie fan I see.

Jihae: Yes, yes. I released a Bowie cover a few weeks ago.

Screen Rant: Very cool. Looking forward to hearing that. So, when you sign on for a movie like this, and you know that there's four books, do you even think about that?

Hera Hilmar: You have to, I think. Because there's a lot of like practical elements to it. That when you sign up for something like this, you actually sign contracts and that kind of stuff. So, you have to be aware of that. Because I think otherwise, you're not protecting yourself in some way. I don't know, legal stuff and whatever. I don't know. But in terms of the creative work, I you think you have to be aware of the whole world because it's all connected. But at the same time, you have to focus on this movie because this is the only movie we're making right now and that's what matters.

Screen Rant: Did you reference the book at all for your character or did you just try to shut down and build the character that was best for the screen?

Hera Hilmar: Oh, no, absolutely. I think the book was always the source material. Both for the script, for everyone, for the filmmakers, for us, for the actors.

Jihae: Great resource.

Hera Hilmar: Yeah, so absolutely. That was always on standby.

Screen Rant: So, how was living in seclusion in Wellington or… was that the name of the town?

Both: Yeah.

Screen Rant: What's that like in that small town? It’s just you guys doing this.

Jihae: Beautiful. I mean New Zealand has a beautiful energy about the place. You're surrounded by the water. And despite it being winter, there's evergreen. So, wow. I mean, I really had a real deep reconnection with nature while I was living there.

Hera Hilmar: Yeah, me too. I kind of make me think about whether I want to spend as much time in London.

Jihae: In cities.

Hera Hilmar: Maybe this is also what's making now...

Jihae: Yeah.

Hera Hilmar: Anyway.

More: Watch The Mortal Engines Trailer

Key Release Dates
  • Mortal Engines (2018) release date: Dec 14, 2018
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