We had the opportunity to speak to the talented, bilingual French/English actress Otilia Royer! We spoke about her journey to become an actress, her process to get into character, the audition process, drama school experiences, her love of film and cinema, career ambitions and much more. She studied at the prestigious Cours Florent drama school in Paris, France which produced great European actresses such as Diane Kruger and Audrey Tatou. After moving to England at 16 years old, she would later go on to study at another prestigious drama institute, The National Youth Theatre, which had past attendees such as Daisy Edgar-Jones, Idris Elba, Kate Winslet, Daniel Craig and many more world class British actors working today. Currently, she can be be seen in the French produced indie horror film Maryla, which is doing well at various film festivals around the world including festivals in Santa Barbara, Portland, Oregon, Paris, France and more.
HNS reporter Domingos Coxi – When did you first fall in love with film and cinema, Otilia?
Otilia Royer – My first love was definitely theatre; at six years old my mum first sent me to local acting classes thinking it would be good for my self confidence. From then on my passion for it grew and grew, and very soon my biggest dream was (and still is), to perform in the West End. My love for French cinema followed not long after as that was what I was mostly exposed to until I moved to the UK. In my teens after having done a few summer screen courses at Cours Florent in Paris, I learned that the craft of on-screen acting is different to stage theatre. My life commitment is to strive to improve at both, wherever my career takes me.
DC- Who influenced you to become an actor growing up?
OR– I grew up watching French films and thus dreamt of one day acting alongside actors such as Sophie Marceau, Marion Cotillard and Vincent Cassel. In the small town I grew up in, acting was not that popular, so it was friends I met at the classes who were as passionate as myself who very much influenced and encouraged me to keep going. I was lucky enough to have supportive parents who helped me build up the confidence to keep going with it.
DC- What is your process to get into character, do you have any rituals?
OR– This very much depends on the role, but I always make sure to do a physical warm up. If my acting partner is available I like to do a bit of improvisation to make sure I stay in character until I am needed on set. For more emotional scenes I tend to do more personal internal work such as emotional memory by Stanislavsky or emotional preparation by Meissner. My ritual has definitely changed so many times. It takes time learning what works for you, I am still in the process so ask me this next year it might be very different. Also, I love to have a coffee!
DC- What are the similarities and differences of the film industry in France and England, apart from the language, that you have noticed, as both countries have great pedigree in cinema?
OR– The similarity is the very high level of competition and talent in both countries. However, when it comes to casting, the process seems to be slightly different. I have noticed that casting directors in England tend to encourage showreels a lot more than casting directors in France who base their choice on headshots and then go straight to asking for a self tape. There isn’t the equivalent of Spotlight in France yet, so the auditioning process and casting calls are distributed differently, although that is dealt with by agents. In the UK, a lot of acting agents do commercials as well as film and tv. In France, acting agents don’t deal with commercials; there are separate agencies for that. Also, having trained in both countries, the training techniques and approach are relatively different.
DC- You studied at the prestigious National Youth Theatre in England and Cours Florent, that has produced the likes of Daisy Edgar-Jones, Idris Elba, Daniel Craig, Audrey Tatou and Diane Kruger. What did you learn at these drama schools that helped prepare you for film, TV and stage?
OR– I was very lucky to be accepted on the National Youth theatre intake course in 2018. I met some incredible actors there, many of whom have gone on to do amazing things! I quickly realized that the level of competition in London is extremely high and how hard I would have to work to pursue acting as a career. Apart from learning valuable acting techniques I became aware of the importance of physical training such as animal studies, physical theatre, dance, clowning and general physical exercise. During the various Cours Florent courses, I learnt how vital consistency and hard work are. Their approach was sometimes on the harsh side but it helped to make me more thick-skinned. I know now that when a director or a teacher doesn’t like what you have suggested you can’t take it personally; always be open to change and redirection. I did my first intense screen acting course here too, which was an eye opener.
DC- What are your favourite 5 films you have ever watched?
OR– There are so many but here are a few: The Intouchables, Blue Is the Warmest Colour, Amelie, The Joker, Queen & Slim and the French version of LOL as it used to be my favourite film as a teenager. The list goes on… The most recent film I watched that really stuck with me is ‘Adieu les cons’. I highly recommend!
DC- What was your experience in filming the horror film ‘MARYLA’ and would you like to do more horror?
OR– MARYLA was an incredible experience, particularly as it was filmed straight after all that time stuck inside during COVID. We filmed in a beautiful location in a town called Sare in the south of France, on the border with Spain. The views were surreal! The team was great and uplifting, especially when the days started to get very long. Sometimes we were really freezing as there was no heating in the haunted house. It’s amazing how fast you develop a bond with everyone on set in such a short time. I would definitely love to do more horror films! It was such an intense and challenging role. I also had my first stunt double; I hope to have more in the future to make me look way cooler and badass than I am in real life. Haha!
DC- Where in France did you grow up and were your family and friends encouraging in your journey to pursue your passion of acting?
OR– I grew up in a small town 20 mins north of Paris called Chantilly, famous for the Chateau of Chantilly, Chantilly whipped cream and horse racing. My family has always been very supportive and I can’t thank them enough for that! In Chantilly I had a few friends in my acting classes who spurred me on. Not all my friends understood my passion for it, but they did all encourage me as best they could. When I went to study drama at Bristol UWE, it was a turning point in my life. I made friends with lots of creative people and their support was invaluable. It helped having people that understood me and could relate to the struggles that come with wanting to be an actor or wanting to pursue any career in the arts. I am very lucky to have remained very close to some of them.
DC– What advice would you give the 10-year-old version of yourself or anybody wanting to succeed in the film industry?
OR– I am only at the beginning of my acting career but I have already been rejected so many times. If I could go back in time I would tell my 10 year old self that rejection is part of the process, that it is necessary to persevere and to build up stamina; essential in such a competitive and over-saturated industry. So put on your knee pads and helmet so you are prepared to fall hard sometimes. Also I would add a quick reminder that it’s worth every second of it for when things do go well! No satisfaction quite like it.
DC– Where can people find your work on social media? What other genres would you like to work on?
OR– I am mainly active on instagram (@OTLIAROYER), where I post updates and all links to my new projects. I have acted in various drama and thriller short films, and would love to do more of those as these are the genres I watch the most. I would also like to challenge myself one day and venture into comedy.