Earlier in the year we got to speak to Finnish actress Mimosa Willamo after discovering her movie Aurora on Amazon Prime here in the UK. The movie is based in Rovaniemi in Finland around Christmas time, and tells the tale of the off-the-rails Aurora and her relationship with the more straight-laced Darian, an asylum seeker from Iran struggling to cope with how he can control his future.
The movie is a brilliant comedy with a lot of heart and will certainly give you a warm feeling in this current cold snap. In fact the movie later got lots of recognition at the Jussi awards – a Finnish equivalent of the Oscars – where it picked up seven awards (Best Film, Best Directing, Best Script, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Costume AND Best Leading Actress – which went to Mimosa, of course!) It was a clean sweep though closely followed by another excellent Finnish film Dogs Don’t Wear Pants!
We wanted to start first with Aurora – tell us a bit about your role in the film and what the story is about? Can we call it a Christmas movie?
Well, I play Aurora, a party-holic from Lapland. The story kicks off with us seeing bits and pieces of Aurora’s unstable life and meeting Darian, an asylum seeking man with his daughter. The two meet at a hot dog stand at night and they start looking for a wife for Darian.
So there is a lot of comedy, heart-warming and cute but also obscene and rampant. But also drama, Darian wants to find a place to call home and Aurora tries to get her life together. I wouldn’t say it’s a movie only about alcoholism or only about the feeling of being a stranger everywhere. I’d say it’s a wonderful mix of coming-of-age and romantic comedy, that somehow makes you cry and laugh at the same time.
When I first read the script I fell in love with it. Miia Tervo is a genius, I’m lucky to call her a friend now and I’d work with her anytime again.
I never thought of it as a Christmas movie, even if it takes place during Christmas, but now that you say it, why not? There’s snow and inflatable Santas, what more does one need for Christmas?
You character is absolutely wild and manages to be both funny yet heart-breaking – how did you go about approaching the role?
It’s mostly thanks to Miia, I’d say again. The role was written so well that it was in fact just fun and inspiring to approach. Me and Oona Airola, who played Kinky, are friends, so the scenes where the girl’s party was in fact one of the most fun shooting days I’ve been involved in.
For me, it has always been easier to act someone loud and limitless rather than heart-breaking, so the hardest scenes were the ones where Aurora is vulnerable. Luckily Miia had a clear vision about the character and I could trust that she knows what is needed and knows when we have it filmed.
Also how did you manage the snow in those heels?!
It’s way easier to play drunk than to walk in heels. That was one of the things I had to practice for the movie, and doing anything with the crazy nails too.
There is a great moment where you sing in Aurora – is there any other hidden talents you have?
Haha, I don’t know if it’s counted as a talent, we were just doing karaoke. I speak three languages so maybe that’s one of my talents. And I play the recorder for real too, even if I just blow it through my nose in the party-scene in Aurora.
You are currently in Deadwind that can be found on Netflix and then Lake Bodom which is over on Shudder – What else have you been up to what plans have you got next?
We just finished shooting a sci-fi movie called Memory of Water, it should be out next year, let’s see how the covid-situation affects publishing next year. Right now we are shooting season three for Deadwind, I’m leaving for night shoot in a couple of hours.
Whereabouts are you based in Finland and where are your favourite spots to escape to?
Helsinki is home for me. But last spring I lived at my family’s summer cabin just an hour drive from Helsinki, but in the middle of nowhere. So the cabin at the lake is my absolute favourite spot, but what I love about Helsinki is that even if I live within walking distance from the metro, I can still be surrounded by nature. The closest park is in front of my flat, the closest forest is a five minute walk and the sea is around the corner.
What have you been reading, watching, listening to recently – any recommendations for us?
During shooting Memory of Water we listened to quite a lot of Whitney Houston in the make-up bus. I’ve been watching the Young Pope, Criminal and I May Destroy You, and I’m looking so much forward to Succession’s next season that I’ve been listening to HBO’s podcast with interviews. Mostly been reading in Finnish and tried to get used to audio books, currently listening to Tommi Kinnunen’s latest book read by Krista Kosonen.
Finally, what is your tip of the day?
Well, I just took some rye buns out of the oven, so maybe today’s tip is to make buns. Easy, quick and delicious. Also, wear a mask!
Interview by Alex Minnis