Berlin International Film Festival

Ellen Dorrit Petersen and Cosmina Stratan on their roles in the film “Shelley” #Berlinale2016

Play Podcast
12 min. and 40 sec.

The difficult talk of portraying the troubled surrogate mother and the childless wife.

Play Podcast
12 min. and 40 sec.

PODCAST: FRED’s Chiara Nicoletti interviews Ellen Dorrit Petersen and Cosmina Stratan, actresses of the film Shelley by Ali Abbasi, from the Panorama section of the 66th Berlinale

To listen to the interview, click on the ► icon on the right, just above the image

Ellen Dorrit Petersen and Cosmina Stratan star in Ali Abbasi’s film Shelley, featured in the Panorama section of the 66th Berlin International Film Festival. Stratan, who won best actress at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, plays the troubled surrogate mother of a childless and therefore desperate couple, played by Ellen Dorrit Petersen and Peter Christoffersen. The actresses comment on the difficulties of portraying these characters, especially considering that neither had experienced anything similar in real life. When asked about their director Ali Abbasi, they both agreed on the fact that he loves actors, and allows them freedom to express their art and their roles.

SHELLEY: Young Romanian woman Elena arrives in the Danish countryside to work as a housekeeper for a recovering Louise and her husband Kasper. It’s an eerie feeling, being deep in a dense forest, far away from modern life. Especially since the isolated house is still and somber without electricity, according to Louise’s wishes. Elena adjusts quickly to her new routine of household chores, tending to chickens and helping fragile Louise. The two women grow closer, but the more they know one another, the more each finds the other stranger. Louise is devastated being unable to bear children after a horrifying miscarriage. Desperate for a child of her own, Louise offers Elena a generous financial deal to be the couple’s surrogate mother. Elena kindly accepts, and the money will help her return home sooner to her own small son. Elena’s pregnancy brings joy to the home of Louise and Kasper, but only briefly. The couple are troubled by Elena’s atypical cravings and aloof behavior. Bizarre hallucinations and unbearable sensations drive Elena to believe that something is frightfully wrong. The life growing inside of her is taking shape too fast, upsetting the lives of everyone like an evil force…


  • Reporter
    Chiara Nicoletti
  • Guest
    Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Cosmina Stratan
  • Interviewee role
  • Film title
  • Festival section
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