Taken from HUNGER's eleventh issue, the actress discusses her life-changing role in 'American Honey'.
Director Andrea Arnold is the film industry’s version of a sniffer dog; her knack for casting white-hot, brand new talent is seemingly unrivalled, but her latest film, American Honey, came dangerously close to missing out on its star, Sasha Lane. The 20-year-old actress was on the beach in Florida for Spring break when she was approached by Andrea about being in a film: “my friend was like ‘she’s casting for porn, we’re walking away right now!’”
According to Andrea it was Sasha’s obvious free-spirited attitude that caught her eye as she played in the sand with her friends, and luckily her intuition was spot on. “I think I can sense people’s energy, so even though the whole situation was weird, Andrea seemed really sweet, and she had a good vibe about her, so I trusted her,” Sasha says. “All I did for the audition was hang out with a couple of girls that are in the movie, do a bit of improvisation and have a lot of conversations about life with Andrea. I think us connecting and her finding out how I respond to life was very important, more so than following the process of a straightforward acting audition.”
These conversations led to Sasha being cast as the aptly named Star, the 18-year-old protagonist in the raw and uncompromising American Honey, a film that follows a group of misfit teenagers from broken homes as they travel around America, selling magazines door-to-door under the watchful eye of group leader Krystal, played by Riley Keough. The character of Star was largely based on Sasha, who prior to the first day on set had never acted in her life.
“All Andrea told me was that Star looked after her siblings and came from a really broken background, so that’s all I had to go on,” Sasha says. “But I recognised her life. I knew that lifestyle, so I didn’t have to imagine it. It made it hard at times though because a lot of scenes in the film hit home. It was difficult allowing myself back into those situations and having to distinguish between my character and who I was, and that’s scary when it’s captured on film.”
Did identifying with the character have its upside though? “When I was 18 I was a bit lost to be honest. I was trying to figure myself out and become more accepting of who I was because I felt very alone. Similarly to Star I looked after my siblings and had gone through a lot in life, so I was trying to work out how I could make what I went through into something that I could embrace as a positive,” she says. “Now, two years later I’m pretty good with who I am. I feel like everything that I’ve gone through, good and bad, was for a reason and that’s why I am the way I am – understanding, considerate and good at reading people. And doing the movie and being on the road definitely helped with that.”
American Honey has already won the Prix du Jury at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, piquing considerable interest in Sasha. When it’s released here later this month, the already palpable hype around the cast will intensify. The film (and fashion) industry is poised for a new it-girl, and it looks like Sasha is firmly in the running to take that spot, but perhaps the only person standing in her way is her.
“I’m just trying to figure out how to deal with all of this. I’m quite an uncomfortable and anxious person, so everything that my life has become is almost everything that I don’t enjoy – cameras, shoots, big crowds. I’m trying to manoeuvre through it without freaking out. Do I have a plan? Not really, I figure that if I just stick to being myself and don’t lose sight of my purpose then it’ll be alright.”
Interview taken from HUNGER’s eleventh issue.
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18 December 2018