It’s extremely important to have diversity represented in film and television. For me, allowing different perspectives is a huge component of diversity. Being able to see yourself and your culture represented and allowing yourself to see through the lens of others is a step towards equality. Diversity is definitely important and for me, perspective is everything. Perspective allows you to see someone or something either openly, or not. I speak several languages, and I’ve always been told that my ability to speak so many is the single greatest gift to have. I absolutely agree. As an actor, to be able to communicate and understand other cultures and traditions is my job and to understand their perspective of the world.
As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing French-Finnish actor Edouard Philipponnat. Edouard was born in 1999 and raised with his older brother in Monaco and Finland. His father is a former French Foreign Legion Officer and a diplomat in the principality of Monaco, and his mother is a holistic healer. Philipponnat attended a Swedish school at a young age and thereafter began studies in Switzerland, following an international curriculum. He speaks five languages (Finnish, Swedish, English, French and Spanish) and has an ear for music, playing piano, drums and sings. A natural athlete, his hobbies include basketball and gymnastics. Philipponnat’s passion for acting began at the age of 13, when he and his father came on a “father and son” trip to Los Angeles. It was there he had his first acting class, and he hasn’t looked back since. He began auditioning for films that same year and was cast as a young squire in Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer’s Curse. Since then, Philipponnat has co-starred in several projects involving intense preparation, including learning Italian within a few weeks.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Edouard! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born in France and lived there for the first three months of my life. Later my family and I moved to Finland and lived there until I was 13. In Finland, we lived on a farm. My brother and I spent countless hours outside, running and playing in the woods with the cows. We would come up with hundreds of fictional characters that we would pretend to be, and use whatever was on the ground as our props.
As I grew older, I found myself travelling between my parents’ homes for the holidays. It was a fascinating time because I learned the most valuable lesson of my life, “Value and appreciate what you have.” My father lived in the south of France where the glamour is very well displayed. Growing up on a farm was an incredible juxtaposition. I’m glad I had the best parents in the world who kept both my feet on the ground.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
On my 13th birthday, my father told me he would take me on a trip. I could pick any place in the world, but I would have to justify why I wanted to go there.
That night I was in bed watching Pirates Of Caribbean, and saw Johnny Depp. I thought to myself, “he looks like he’s having a good time, I want do do that.” So I called my father the next day and told him I wanted to go to Los Angeles. I took my first acting class and a few months later I was on my first film set. A memory I will never forget.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I would have to say the preparation for my upcoming film The Runner. I read the script on the plane and knew that it was going to be a lot of work. But I can’t call acting work. I love it too much.
The toughest aspect of this role is the weight loss. I started at 160 lbs and went down to 143 lbs. I had to change my daily routine. Not move too much. Eat smart. Train in the morning when I had the energy. The difficulty was not in eating little amounts of food, I have the discipline for that. The mental game was most difficult. You tell yourself not to eat, but at the same time you don’t want it to become a serious mental or health issue. Right now I’m 130 lbs and my lifestyle has changed. I don’t think about it. I’m eating 500 calories per day until we are finished filming.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I was on a father/son trip and my father informed me that an acting class would be one of the activities. He gave me a monologue to memorize. The day we arrived, the teacher asked me to recite the entire thing. I froze. I had not even looked at it.
The acting teacher said to me, “Maybe this isn’t for you. let’s try something else.” I was sure I had blown the whole thing and I wanted to hide under a rock. But instead, we started doing other things like improv, and some Meisner work. By the end of it, he thought I had what it takes.
My father came to pick me up, they convinced him that I had “it,” and asked him if they could send my tapes to a producer. That night we got a call inviting us to dinner with Raffaella De Laurentiis, my first producer.
What I’ve learned: Always show up prepared and don’t let anything or anyone put you down. You’re one step away from being where you want to be.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m about to start filming The Runner. It’s a true story. I star as Aiden, a high school student who is arrested for drug possession. As he battles his addiction and demons, he is forced to go undercover to expose a drug kingpin.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
It’s extremely important to have diversity represented in film and television. For me, allowing different perspectives is a huge component of diversity. Being able to see yourself and your culture represented and allowing yourself to see through the lens of others is a step towards equality.
Diversity is definitely important and for me, perspective is everything. Perspective allows you to see someone or something either openly, or not. I speak several languages, and I’ve always been told that my ability to speak so many is the single greatest gift to have. I absolutely agree. As an actor, to be able to communicate and understand other cultures and traditions is my job and to understand their perspective of the world.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- The importance of knowing when to listen. I was in a casual business meeting and we were sharing our ideas. I was babbling on about what I thought. Once I left the meeting, an elder told me, “Hey! You’re a smart kid, but you’ve got two ears and one mouth for a reason!”
- Patience. I’ve been taught my whole life to be patient, and still haven’t mastered it. I’m a very eager person. When I have a new Idea, or see something I want, I go for it. It’s instinctual.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
What I’ve been trying to do when it comes to work and stress, is to determine when it’s time to work, and when it’s time for rest, even if it’s just for 10 minutes.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire 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. 🙂
I am a huge advocate for veganism and climate change. My passion for both started when I was tired of listening to what others would say and went to research on my own. For instance, if enough people would become vegan, it would make a positive contribution to climate change, and help save and sustain our planet.
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 get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My Father. Both of my parents and my entire family as well, but when it comes down to it, everything I have achieved in my career is based off of his guidance, patience and support.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I read a short poem once that truly touched me:
If you think
You can’t handle
The upcoming darkness,
The extraordinary strength
With which the trees
Kiss their leaves
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Martin Scorsese or David Fincher. I would work their ears to death with all sorts of questions to understand their train of thought.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!