We recently sat down with the talented and humble Erica Muscat about her current projects and plans for the future. Here is what she had to say:
Please introduce yourself to the readers and when did you first get into performing?
My mother tells me I was obsessed with the the soundtrack to The Sound of Music. At age three, I spent the entire summer at the top of my Aunt’s staircase repeating Gretel’s lines over… and over… and over again. With five older cousins as my ‘witnesses’, I like to think that that was my first official performance… Whether they knew it or not or even remotely appreciated my commitment is another story entirely!
Who were some of your biggest inspirations?
There’s too many to list. But I remember the first time I saw Kramer vs Kramer years ago, watching Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman in the court room scene and thinking…This is it. It just doesn’t get any more human than this!
What kind of training have you had, if any?
I feel like I’m the army brat equivalent of Drama Schools; I moved around quite a bit. I started my training at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (UK) which reflects Classical Actor’s training before graduating from The East 15 Acting School (UK). Along the way I trained at LAMDA (UK) and studied Method at Stella Adler’s (NY) but East 15 was home. It’s difficult to describe the training there; it’s a wee bit ‘cult-esque’; what happens at East 15 stays at East 15. It’s highly intensive and there’s no time to switch off between classes because it’s all so perfectly organic; rather than being taught in modular form, the tutors there are so in sync that each lesson develops seamlessly from the one before it. I guess the best way to describe it is that it was an exploration of self.
What has been your favorite role to play so far?
Playing ‘Erika’ in Eleġija was probably one of the most challenging roles I’ve played to date but what can possibly be more fun than a challenging role? Based on the works of highly acclaimed Maltese Poet Doreen Micallef, the film, though not biographical in a conventional sense, was very much a reflection of her own deepest and most private sentiments. Though they prove to be quite heavy and at times even disconcerting, the film sought to capture these inner workings of her life. She was a very raw and passionate woman and her choice to share her work was profoundly courageous and I wanted to honor that without losing the immense vulnerability she must have experienced whilst writing it. After we wrapped filming, I found out that Ms Micallef was best friend to a close family member and I was told that I had actually met her as a child. It made the whole experience all that more humbling.
What has been your biggest achievement, so far, of your career?
It was stealing a role meant for a male actor. My Director, Menelaos Karantzas had a vision and I was over the moon when he chose to cast me as Skakespeare himself in a one-man show by Phil Jacobs, called Mad About the Boy. The producers, who knew nothing of the casting until a month before the show, weren’t as thrilled, but we presented a snippet and they absolutely loved it. I guess part of what I do comes from the desire to change people’s perceptions of what can and can’t be done. And we did.
What projects do you have coming up?
While Eleġija is doing the festival rounds I am also working with Kenneth Scicluna, the writer and director of Eleġija and one of Malta’s most exciting talents, on a new feature length screenplay. But it is still early days. I’ve also been cast as Juliet in a Maltese National run of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which will take place at the Presidential Gardens this summer. The final cast is yet to be announced but I can’t wait to throw myself into rehearsals.
Who would be your ideal co-star and why?
No names in particular, but truly any actor or actress who isn’t afraid to commit fully to the moment. A person who is brave and willing to maintain eye contact beyond the moment of discomfort. That’s where the magic lives.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans are to work and then to work some more. I’d say ‘to be happy’, but the two are interchangeable for me. I love immersing myself in a group of creative and passionate people so why not shoot a film whilst we’re at it?
What is your advice to aspiring performers?
I would tell them to keep asking themselves: ‘Why do I do this?’ Their honest answer will be all they’ll ever need to know on how to proceed.