Liselotte Vanophem: Hi Arvin, congratulations on “Aniara“. What were your first thoughts when you’ve read the script?
Arvin Kananian: I loved the script! It was such a well-written script in the sense that there were so many different substories and so many different characters that had their journey. What the filmmakers had done with the script was that they made me care about each character. I cared about each one and could follow them. That stuck with me. Of course, also the fact that it was an adaptation of Harry Martinson’s poem.
LV: When it’s an adaption, do you go for the script or for the original work or a mix of both to prepare for your role?
AK: Well, the poem has only one page that solely describes the captain of the spaceship. It describes him as the villain, super-dark and evil. This description gave me something to hold onto but I also needed to find something to understand the character and to like. I had to understand and respect the choices that he made from his point of view. I mostly went with our preparation such as the script and the backstory of the character we gave him.
LV: Your character (Chefone) is being described in the poem as evil, dark, etc. but how would you describe him?
AK: An old-fashion, rigid and military leader. He comes from a military background, at least in our adaptation. He’s gotten this job because there’s been an influx in the travel to Marx because of the chaos. He’s a person who’s over-pragmatic and he never lets his emotions getting in the way. In his perspective, he’s always doing what’s the best for the people and for his platoon which is, in this case, the population of the spaceship.
LV: How are the scenes shot in which you’re either the captain giving a speech in a big room full of people or in which you’re watching the mission on one of those massive screens? A lot of green screens of real-life elements?
AK: Well, we shot those scenes in a big auditorium and we had live footage of me showing on those big screens. We had a lot of extras but in post-production, they added more and more people. The big crowd of extras was very lovely and very supportive. There were at least 80 to 100 people there with us. It was nice to have someone listening to you and react to what you’re saying.
LV: How is it for you to see the finished product with all those extra people added in postproduction?
AK: Some of the scenes feel cringy cause I feel like I could have done “that thing different” and “this thing different” or I should have made “this choice” or “that one”. Some scenes feel like the way they’re supposed to be. Some are just so edited in a way that I’m like “did I even do that?”
LV: If tomorrow people come up to you and say “you can go to Mars”. Would you do it?
AK: I probably would go but I would also try to find every excuse not to go.
LV: Let’s say that if you would go: what would the thing that you would miss the most?
AK: My loved ones of course. My family, my close friends and I guess some everyday comfort.
LV: What would be the last thing you would do here on Earth before going to Mars?
AK: I would just throw a huge party and absorb all the love I would get during that party so I can leave with a “battery of love”.
LV: How did you get into the film industry? Where did the passion come from?
AK: I was studying “Law” in the UK but I hated that so I dropped out. It was my dad who convinced me because while I was studying “Law” he took me aside and he was like “what’s wrong. Seems that you’re not happy here” and afterwards we talk for about four hours and then I told him that I wanted to act. However, until that point I’ve always seen it as a hobby and that I have to do something more academic. My father, on the other hand, said to me that that wasn’t a hobby and that it was something I had to do. He pushed me to go for acting and from that point on, I went to as many auditions as possible and took some courses. I did a very intensive course here in London at the Actors Temple which is the best school I’ve ever had.
LV: What advice would you give to other actors who want to get into the film industry as well?
AK: Yeah, I feel like acting is just something you have to go for in as many ways as possible. Just to get the experience. It always starts with small steps.
LV: As an actor, do you still have time to watch other films?
AK: Yes, I do but no my own. I try to stay away from them as much as possible. I try to watch a lot of movies. However, I feel like actors and all the people from the film industry ruined watching film for ourselves. We think about the details too much.
LV: Let’s say that during your next film, you can start to any actor or actress you want. Who would it be?
AK: Daniel D. Lewis!
LV: One last question: Do you already have other films coming up?
AK: Yeah, there’s are a couple of films and television shows coming up. Most of them in Sweden. One of them is also in the UK and US. I’m starting on another television series in a couple of weeks and a feature in the fall.
Thanks a lot for the interview!
You can read our reviews of Aniara here and here. Read our interview with Directors Pella Kagerman & Hugo Lilja here.