Erika Linder and Natalie Krill on their sexy Sapphic film “Below Her Mouth”

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AE: So Erika, you’re known for modeling, but this is your first acting role, right?

EL: Yes, correct.

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AE: So what about the script and the character of Dallas made you think this was the right first step for you?

EL: Well when I read the script and when I met the producers it just like, you kind of just feel it immediately I guess. It was so authentic. It was just like very solid. It was just the perfect first experience for me.

 

AE: And the character herself, do you see yourself in her?

EL: It’s funny. As we’re shooting, I’m like, “Oh, this is totally me.” And as I’m watching it right now, I’m like, “I would never do that.”

 

AE: Do you think she’s a little dickish?

EL: I mean, I think she’s more kind of like brooding and like damaged in a way. Kind of frustrated and doesn’t really let people in.

 

AE: And for the record, that’s not you?

EL: Oh not at all.

NK: She’s a little puppy.

EL: I am a little puppy. Am I?

NK: Yeah, you are.

EL: Yeah.

 

AE: Natalie, I’ve read you’ve been looking for a role like this for awhile, but why Jasmine?

NK: I really connected with Jasmine’s tendencies towards perfectionism and towards living to please others. I didn’t go through the exact same thing as Jasmine, but I had a bit of a personal point of crisis where I was like, “I’m not actually living for myself,” and had to kind of like reevaluate the choices that I was making in my life. I feel like that is the biggest thing for Jasmine, is that she’s been living so long for other people and trying to please other people. And then when she meets Dallas it’s kind of that thing that just shifts something deep within her where she realizes that she can’t do that anymore.

 

AE: Did you have a conversation about labels before taking on the role? Because one thing that seems to become clear, as we go through this journey with Jasmine, is there’s a lot of repression there.

NK: We did talk a lot about labels actually. The fact that some people who are gay feel the need to identify as being gay and some people don’t. We talked about how a lot of people are probably going to ask me like, “Are you gay? Or are you this?” And me personally, I’m open. Like I don’t feel the need to label myself and I believe in like love is love. I think you fall in love with a person. But I respect both. If people feel they need to identify and label themselves as something, I think that’s important. But also if people don’t, I think that’s the way of the future, is no labels.

 

AE: Erika, do you have some thoughts on that?

EL: Yeah. I mean as we’re shooting it too like I didn’t feel like–obviously like I know you’re a girl, and you know that I’m a girl.

NK: What?

EL: No, but I feel like regardless of it being a love story between two women, I think that a lot of people can just relate to it. As I’m watching it, you don’t really think about gender. I don’t know. Like you do, but you don’t.

NK: I think it’s about being authentic. Everyone’s individuality is particular to that person. So coming back to what you said about labels, I don’t know, I think if people want to label themselves that’s fine. And if they don’t, that’s fine too.

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AE: Erika, I read an interview of yours where you compare Below Her Mouth to Blue is the Warmest Color but where you also say it’s not exactly a fair comparison. Both films are pretty sexually graphic, so in what ways would you say Below Her Mouth is different?

EL: Well when I said that I think for me it’s almost like if you compare like this movie to Blue, it’s almost like comparing all the straight love stories to Romeo and Juliet, for example. It’s a completely different story. It’s shot differently.

NK: How many love stories are there about a man and a woman?

EL: Exactly. I mean, I get it. People are going to do that. But I mean, it’s just two completely different stories.

NK: And also what I think is unique about our story is that it’s a female story told by females. So it’s like who has the right to tell a female story? Females. Because it’s our experience.

EL: And what people have to understand too is that this is based over a weekend. It’s not like two months. It’s about that first instant connection and sort of like; I guess you could call it like love at first sight.

NK: Love at first sight, and really what happens when you fall in love is you don’t want to be apart from that person for like 48 hours.

 

AE: These comparisons are going to persist for years, never mind that Below Her Mouth was written before Blue is the Warmest Color came out. But let’s talk about the female gaze. A lot of the movie consists of sex scenes. Where does the female gaze play into those?

NK: When we were in rehearsals, and we were talking about those scenes, the intimate scenes, we talked a lot about the connection part, and that was what drove those scenes. It was about the eye contact and just being connected with each other. That’s what we talked about a lot, and that’s what fueled all those scenes, was the love, the love between them and the deep connection that they had. That’s what happens when you fall in love, is you just want to be part of that person.

EL: I agree.

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