If we all cared more about those who are less fortunate and actively worked towards helping them find a better life then that would eliminate so much suffering in the world. Nobody should be forced to sleep on the streets and go without food, shelter and medical care. Let’s all agree to stop closing our eyes and do something (no matter how small) to help a homeless person get back on their feet or an abandoned animal to get into a shelter, where they can be looked after and rehomed.
As a part of my series about rising stars, I had the pleasure to interview Brigitte Millar. Brigitte is an English/European, bilingual award winning actress best known for her role as Dr Vogel in Spectre and Emmeline Vance in Harry Potter. Her ancestry goes back to the painter Emil Nolde and although her artistic talent was heavily discouraged, she decided to follow her dreams and pursue an acting career quite late in life. Ever since, she has worked steadily alongside some of the biggest names in the industry and with her O1 visa in hand is now ready to look across the pond to the U.S. for a fresh challenge.
Thank you for joining us Brigitte! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career?
After finishing my A-levels at the age of 18 I wanted to study fine art and become a painter. But this was heavily discouraged by my parents, because they didn’t want me to be a struggling artist like my ancestor, the painter Emil Nolde. So I studied modern languages and worked as a translator. But I found it unfulfilling and didn’t like the office politics, so decided to move into the fitness industry, where I worked until I was made redundant. My brother encouraged me to pursue an artistic career and I started going to acting classes. The rest as they say is history.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened since you started this career?
I don’t know about interesting, but one of the most tense and exciting moments of my career was the board room scene in Spectre in the great hall with approx. 100 extras around the table just before Christoph Waltz walks in. The atmosphere was really tense and everybody was quite excited and nervous and the tension was palpable. I think you can actually feel this when you see the scene on the big screen.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake that you made when you were first starting? What lesson did you learn from that?
Never wear a dress that is too long and trailing behind you on the floor when working on set 🙂 your fellow actors are bound to step on it and you stumble, trip and fall flat on your face, which is what happened to me on Harry Potter. People seemed to find it quite funny, except me of course. Eventually, the wardrobe lady shortened the dress and everything went smoothly.
What are some of the most exciting or interesting projects you are working on now?
I have a couple of exciting projects in the pipeline, but as I had to sign a non disclosure agreement, unfortunately I am not allowed to talk about it at the moment.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was it like? Do you have any stories?
I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the most amazing and talented people in the industry. Daniel Radcliff on Harry Potter was very kind and friendly to me. He put me at ease and made me feel relaxed and it was such a pleasure to work with him. Then there are Christoph Waltz and Daniel Craig, both very charismatic actors and they inspired me a lot when I was on set of Spectre. Sam Mendes, the director is wonderful to work with as he gave me so much creative freedom and that is really exciting for an actor.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help the thrive and not burn out?
I think it is important to have interests and hobbies outside of acting that keep you mentally and emotionally balanced and happy. Personally, I do yoga, swimming and exercise and I visit art galleries and museums as I find it relaxing, inspiring and uplifting. I also like to travel and see new places, people and cultures and learn new skills.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger?
There are 2 or 3 good causes that are very dear to my heart. The homeless and abandoned animals for example. If we all cared more about those who are less fortunate and actively worked towards helping them find a better life then that would eliminate so much suffering in the world. Nobody should be forced to sleep on the streets and go without food, shelter and medical care. Let’s all agree to stop closing our eyes and do something (no matter how small) to help a homeless person get back on their feet or an abandoned animal to get into a shelter, where they can be looked after and rehomed.
What are your “5 things I wish someone had told me when I first started” and why?
When I worked on Harry Potter, one of my fellow actors, Peter Cartwright (who was in his seventies at the time and played the Bishop in the British soap Emmerdale) took me under his wing. He gave me some really good advice that I still follow to this day.
No 1: Don’t watch the rushes, it’ll only make you self conscious and you may start to worry about your performance unnecessarily.
No 2: Don’t ever talk about money and daily rates with another actor. It’ll only cause problems. He told me how he’d accidentally mentioned how much his daily rate was for a job to another actor he was working with and the actor called his agent and complained. The agent then phoned the production company and complained and all this lead to even more complaints and upset a whole lot of people. So I never talk about money and daily rates to other actors.
No 3: Patience is a must. Harry Potter was my first ever acting job after drama college and I learnt that there can be long waiting times on set. So being patient is definitely a good thing to have in your tool kit. (On rare occasions I have spent a whole day in my trailer, waiting to be called on set and some people can get bored or frustrated.. lol.)
No 4: Working on set can make you very thirsty and you can get dehydrated, so I always bring my “on set bag” with a bottle of water and some hand cream, just in case I need it.
No 5: I love and enjoy working with creative people and I am a great believer in treating everybody in the way that I wish to be treated, which is with courtesy and respect. This has always stood me in good stead, I have worked with some wonderful people and together we’ve created some magical moments, which hopefully will inspire and uplift people.
Can you please give your favourite “life lesson quote” Can you share how that was relevant in your life?
The French writer and poet Antoine de Saint-Exupery said: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
And I think that is so true. It is only when we open our heart and see the beauty in the people we meet and the things that surround us that we realise that we are all interconnected. This helps us to be compassionate and have love and empathy for our fellow human beings. The more I open my heart the more love I feel and the happier and contented I am in my life.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards, who helped you get to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Yes, definitely. I am so grateful to Peter Cartwright, who helped me a lot on my first ever acting job on Harry Potter. The advice he gave me is priceless and I still follow it to this day. Also, I had the great privilege to work with Matt Passmore (The Glades/ Jigsaw) on NOX. He is not only a very talented actor, but also a very kind and generous person. When I was on set, we chatted about the differences between the British and the U.S film and TV industry. He gave me some invaluable advice as I’ve got my O1 visa and am now looking across the pond to the U.S for my next challenge.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sport and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the U.S whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this -:)
I’d love to have lunch with Jim Carrey, who is such an amazing actor and chat to him about the “law of attraction” and how he made it in show biz, I am sure I could learn a lot from him.
Also, I am a great fan of George Clooney’s as an actor as well as a director, he would be interesting to talk to about politics as well as the film industry.
Steven Spielberg is definitely someone I’d love to meet, because he’s so creative and inspirational.
And last but not least the amazing Catherine Hardwicke, who directed the first ever Twilight movie, which is one of my favourites of all time. I’d ask her about the making of Twilight and how she stayed inspired and fired up and made it into such an iconic film.
Can our readers follow you on social media?
Yes, I am on facebook and twitter.
Brigitte Millar @brigittemillar