Interview: Actress Anna Rust on Carnival Row & Shooting in Prague
Film & TV production in Prague is once again big business, with major international productions like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Far from Home recently shooting in the Czech capital.
But one of the most expensive projects to ever shoot in Prague was Amazon’s Carnival Row, a sci-fi/fantasy TV series starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne that filmed its first season throughout the city over a six-month shoot beginning last fall.
I recently had the chance to chat with actress Anna Rust, who is featured in a recurring role in the first season Carnival Row and has a long list of Prague-based film and TV credits to her name:
What’s your background with film & TV projects in Prague? Why the Czech Republic?
I can only chalk it up to a great coincidence, as I keep coming back for work. So much is filmed in the Czech Republic these days!
How did you first get involved with acting? When did you realize it was a career you wanted to pursue?
I was about six when I did my first role, and I’m fairly certain that at that age my main love for acting stemmed from being able to eat unlimited chocolate at craft services and play with tame wolves, but it was at the end of that project that I realised I had completely fallen in love with acting.
To this day, it’s the ability to take on a new world, new circumstances and explore the human condition in ways I may not ordinarily be able to that makes acting so incredible to me.
What can audiences expect to see in Carnival Row?
A great story, brilliant cast and an absolute and utter visual delight. It’s set in a fictional neo-Victorian fantasy world, in which humans and mythical creatures live alike, and follows the investigation of the murder of a fairy showgirl on Carnival Row. It has a somewhat film-noir feel to it. There’s nothing quite like this show.
Can you tell me anything about your character, Fleury?
Fleury is a mischievous fairy living on Carnival Row. You’ll have to wait till 2019 to find out more!
Carnival Row is set in a fantasy world full of mythical creatures; how much of that did you get to experience on set through practical effects & set design?
The majority of filming took place in a studio, which meant most of the sets were built uniquely for the show. The set designers added so much detail to every part of the world - just stepping onto those sets was magical.
Carnival Row shot for six months in Prague. What kept the cast & crew busy when not filming?
A lot of us weren’t permanently in Prague so we shuttled between the U.K. and Prague whenever needed, but when we had downtime, we did lots of lovely dinners, get-togethers, drinks… As we soon realised, Prague has no shortage of great places to go out!
Any favorite restaurants/clubs/hangouts in Prague?
So many! Some of my personal favourites are Yami Sushi House (the best sushi I’ve had in a long time), Agave Restaurant, Pizza Nuova, La Finestra, Café Savoy, and a very quirky and unassuming place called Radost FX, tucked in an underpass in a street outside the centre that serves great vegetarian food.
We frequented a few bars, but as for clubs: we once spent a whole evening trying to find a good nightclub in the centre and ended up going back to the hotel at midnight, unsuccessful! I'm clearly not very good at this.
What about Claire McCarthy’s Ophelia, in which you play a young version of Naomi Watts’ character?
I remember meeting Naomi on my first day and immediately thinking, “Okay, there is no way anyone’s gonna buy into me being the younger version of this radiant, talented woman. I have five minutes before someone realises and fires me, so I better enjoy the catering while I can.”
Besides that, though, it was incredible to be working with a female director, female producer, female screenwriter, two female leads; even the book that the film was based on was written by a woman.
What was it like shooting with Orlando Bloom & Cara Delevingne? Daisy Ridley?
In a word – brilliant. It’s fantastic to learn from talented, successful actors that also happen to be great people.
One of your earliest roles was in 2005’s The Brothers Grimm, as the young sister of characters eventually played by Matt Damon and Heath Ledger. Any memories from that production?
I do, actually! It was such a tiny part, right at the beginning of the movie, but I remember lying in bed on set, Terry Gilliam sitting beside me, and telling him “My dad thinks you’re great.” He chuckled and asked me what I thought. I was only eight at the time, so my response was “I saw you in Empire once.” That’s it. That’s all I said.
What’s your favorite production you’ve been involved with?
I’ve genuinely loved everything I’ve worked on in the last few years. Carnival Row was an unbelievable experience, though. I can’t say too much yet, but I’ve never worked on anything as intricate and awe-inspiring as that.
Favorite film overall?
I have a list of about thirty films, actually… Is that crazy? One of my favourites, though, is the French film The Intouchables. And The Big Lebowski. And Interstellar. Eek, stop me now.
Last TV series you binged?
The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel. Watch the first episode till the end and you’ll be hooked, it’s incredible. We consumed the whole season within 24 hours.
Actors/actresses that inspire you?
Where do I start? Jessica Chastain has to be up there. Donald Glover and basically the entire cast of Atlanta are some of the finest actors I’ve ever seen. Sarah Paulson, Ian McKellen, Claire Foy, Angela Bassett are all inspirations to me. And Noah Schnapp. That kid is unbelievable!
What are the benefits of shooting in Prague vs. other international locations?
I've never filmed in so many stunning indoor and outdoor locations, and the crews! The people I worked with in Prague were wonderful. Also, from a selfish point of view, Prague is such a gorgeous city - being able to explore it in my spare time was a great bonus.
What’s next for Anna Rust?
Ophelia is currently gearing up for a wide release, and Carnival Row comes out in 2019. As for what I’m working on right now, that's still under wraps… as always. But I can’t wait to share it with you soon!