Exclusive Interview with Actress – Julia Batelaan
MOLLY from Artsploitation Films
What attracted you to Molly, the script and the character?
Everything really, It’s kinda hard being a huge superhero fan in a small country like The Netherlands, because we rarely produce such films. I met this wonderful group of misfits back in 2010, not knowing they would start a company we now call ‘Get Off The Road’. We had this mutual respect for each other, working together felt right.
So there was always a place for me in ‘Molly’, I got involved before production, before the script. There was no audition, it was clear from the start that I would be playing Molly. For the first time in my life I got the opportunity to build a character from scratch, working closely with Colinda and Thijs of course. We talked about Molly for a long time, I drew tons of pictures of her look, and went to every thrift store to find items that were just right for her. I really wanted the character to be just right. For example: the colorful gloves she finds on a corps, the elastic band around her arm that keeps her bullets and the duck she kills and eats, are all items I brought to the table because I thought it would add to her personality.
We talked about the glasses she wears in the film, for a long time. Eventually we decided to do it, it makes her more vulnerable. Also the movie trope ‘Ugly girl with the glasses’ works well for her, if you’d ask me. We wanted her to be a hero, but not a graceful one. Not your typical foxy protagonist. Molly is not a great martial artist or a mighty half-god. Molly is very clumsy yet very persistent and I think that is beautiful.
How did you first get involved in the business of making movies?
I started playing the violin when I was four and drama classes when I was eight, I always loved performing. My first real acting gig was the biggest soap opera of The Netherlands, before that I had done some commercials and a lot of modeling. I was 9 when I started working for dutch television. I remember feeling anxious all the time, eventhough everybody was super nice to me, and i loved acting. After that I had some small parts in other dutch tv shows and movies. When I was sixteen I started college in Amsterdam, studying film acting at the Media College Amsterdam, and I graduated last year.
‘Molly’ was my first time being a leading lady, which was very exciting. It was also my first time experiencing some confidence in my abilities as an actor and artist. The whole proces was truely amazing, despite it not being easy at all.
Who are some of your influencers in the industry?
When it comes to strong female actors, I love Emily Blunt, Zoë Saldana, Emma Stone, Milla Jovovich, Julianne Moore, Lupita Nyong’o, Uma Thurman, Madelaine Petsch, Lucy Liu, Karen Gillan, Saoirse Ronan, Amy Adams, Maggie Smith, Christina Hendricks, the list really goes on and on. I used to get bullied a lot for the way I look, that’s why I named quite a few redheads. They inspire me so much to love myself.
And when it comes to people who have a direct influence on me, I would have to say Thijs Meuwese, Kris Patmo and Colinda Bongers. They have taught me so much about the industry, the proces of making a movie and gave me a chance to develop all kinds of amazing skills. I would have been a different actor, a different person really, if it wasn’t for them.
What has been your biggest obstacle to hurdle in your career?
My health. I had two ovary surgeries a couple of weeks before we started shooting. I already started training for Molly and had invested so much in the character already. The directors had to consider a recast, and I didn’t blame them. The first surgery only made my problems worse, so here I was thinking about ovary cancer at 20 y/o, instead making a movie. After the second surgery the chance of cancer was ruled out and I could start my healing proces. A miracle occurred, ‘Get Off The Road’ waited for me, the whole production was delayed. As soon as I was able to walk I started training again, and not long thereafter we started shooting.
At first I felt deeply insecure, I wasn’t as fit as I’d hoped. The first day of shooting we filmed the scene where I run across the beach to the top of the dunes, and the long shot fight on the dunes. Together with the amazing stunt team ‘Vanguard’ and actor Cyriel Guds, we shot the dune fight in about 15 takes and the running in about 6 takes. Eventhough I was still in pain, I knew from that moment that I could do it.
What has been the most valuable learning experience on the set of a movie?
There’s a lot of things, it’s hard to pick one thing. On the set of ‘Molly’ i learned to have trust in myself and others. I was constantly criticising myself and my work, thinking it was not good enough. I had to learn to put my trust in the directors; they will tell you if it’s not good enough. I know a lot of actors go through the same thing, we think we need answers from somebody else, or we think we need to be more like somebody else. I guess we all sometimes feel like we’re not enough. The proces of letting go and gaining trust wasn’t easy for me or Thijs and Colinda. It starts with believing in your own magic, it’s nice to get approval but believing in yourself lasts longer. So if you are still reading this: You are magical, you really are.
Is there a type of character you would like to play?
One day I want to be ‘The girl next door’ because it would be a huge challenge not to be super weird all of the time. Also, a girl possessed by a demon seems like a fun character to play. People always tell me I look like I should be ‘the creepy kid’ in a horror flick. I’ve even been compared to ‘Chuckie’ two or three times, I guess that’s a compliment.
What are project your currently working on that horror fans should be aware of?
We finished shooting the prequel of Molly, it’s in post-production right now. I’m excited to announce that Molly will make an appearance as well! It’s called ‘Kill Mode’ and everything is going to be bigger and better. Coming soon… That’s all I can say for now. ;)
Something nobody knows about Julia Batelaan:
I love playing dress-up, that’s why I have lots of costumes. I never wear my silly clothes outside, except for when I go to auditions, so I don’t think anybody knows I have an Akira inspired red motor suit in my closet.
What horror movies scared the hell out of you when you were a kid?
Saw franchise, for sure! Me and my best friend Kemay used to watch horror movies every weekend, Saw was our favorite. Strangely I’m way more scared of them now then I was back then.
What does the future hold for Julia Batelaan?
A lot more days on set. Working on ‘Kill Mode’ I got my first taste in the film making, I would love to produce my own movies one day. For now I’m just trying to learn as much as I can about all the departments. And of course acting whenever I can, training, working on my neutral American accent and helping out on every set I can get to. At the end of this year I will launch my new website, so there’s lots to do, so little time.