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Rebecca Ferguson: "We're all battling things in modern life"

Star of Mission Impossible and Despite the Falling Snow on sacrifice, Scandinavia (ABBA, of course) and what is lacking in modern society

You know when you Google people and you’re not quite sure if what you find is real?

This doesn’t start well…

Did your mother really help translate ABBA’s Waterloo into English?

Yes. My mother hung out with the gang. She showed me a picture of them and I said: “God, look at their clothes!” And she said: “They were mostly my clothes.” I’m sad because she threw them all away. How could you?!

From one Swedish icon to another. People have compared you to Ingrid Bergman, and certainly your new film deals with Casablanca-esque themes of love, loss and loyalty.

Aren’t they the essential ingredients of most stories? Whether it’s something like Deadpool, there are high stakes, it’s action, there’s love, conflict. But it’s a beautiful compliment. The lighting of Despite the Falling Snow [pictured below] oozes some kind of Casablanca noir ambience. When we did Mission I looked at Ingrid Bergman, Katharine Hepburn, Greta Garbo. That’s what I wanted my character to be, and then for her to shake her hair and become a rough rogue agent as well. I’m trying to be versatile!

mission-impossible
"When we did Mission I looked at Ingrid Bergman, Katharine Hepburn, Greta Garbo"

What did these actresses from Hollywood’s golden age have that’s missing today?

I talked a lot to Christopher McQuarrie about this. I think we lack mystery nowadays. We live in a society where we have instant gratification and we have instant information. We lack secrecy and that’s something I find so important for characters. When you have a camera on someone’s face and they’ve not displayed too much of themselves, you feel like there are so many levels, that’s what we lack.

When it comes to being versatile, Despite the Falling Snow sees you playing two characters in two different periods.

That was very scary. It’s about finding that space between them. What is Katya’s secret? What is Lauren’s secret? The character’s secret is always something I keep to myself. That brings the mystery and is the interesting part of film-making for me.

Do you have to understand the choices the character makes?

Absolutely. Here we’re telling a story of passion, betrayal, extraordinary sacrifice. The tagline is, ‘You can betray your country but not your heart’. How much are you willing to sacrifice for something you love or believe in? That’s interesting, it’s fascinating, it’s hard.

Thankfully the stakes are lower in our own lives.

Are they? Another story would be someone loving their job and sacrificing friendship and relationships. People suffer alcoholism or drug abuse, lose their family, lose their children. We’re all battling things.

Our battles are less romantic when not set in Russia during the Cold War. Is it a different world we live in now?

There are still spies out there. Maybe you’re an undercover agent.

I wouldn’t be able to tell you if I was.

It’s the not knowing that’s interesting. It’s exciting, it’s sexy, it’s dark and mysterious. I woke up this morning and went to Starbucks for a coffee. It’s not quite the same!

Why has there been an invasion of Swedish actors and culture recently?

It’s been there all the time, like the new black. We have incredible dark woods, vast environments. It is cold, it is dark. There is something very noir about Scandinavia, which is needed in a world that is high-explosive and dynamic.

Despite the Falling Snow is in cinemas. Rebecca Ferguson also stars in Florence Foster Jenkins from May 6

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