Elsa Zylberstein dishes on Kristin Scott Thomas and Loved You So Long

Nov 14, 2008 at 3:22 a.m. ET

The world is abuzz about Elsa Zylberstein and Kristin Scott Thomas in Loved You So Long. Written and directed by Philippe Claudel, the story follows two sisters absent from each other's lives for 15 years who come together with astounding results.

Elsa stars with Kristin Scott Thomas in Loved You So LongFrench actress Zylberstein called SheKnows to discuss the film that is garnering serious raves. Thomas' performance is grippingly extraordinary in Loved You So Long and her acting volley partner on every level is Zylberstein.

The film is French and is in many ways carves its own genre: the sibling thriller.

Juliette (Scott Thomas) has been absent from her family's radar for 15 years. Her younger sister Lea, (Zylberstein) takes her into her home and thus begins a journey of familial discovery that is equally compelling as complex.

With Lea's little girls so vulnerable, her worries are many about the sister she hardly knows moving into her what appears to be 'happy home.'

Loving 'Loved'

SheKnows: Hello Elsa, the response to your film has been extraordinary.

Elsa Zylberstein: People are reacting to well to the movie and it did really well this weekend, I'm really excited. It's just a dream.

SheKnows: Such a riveting story. What initially attracted you to the project?

Elsa Zylberstein: It's a bit different. I knew the writer.

SheKnows: Oh, you're kidding.

Elsa Zylberstein: He's a really well known writer in France. In the last two to three years, from time to time, we see each other. One day we had coffee and I said, 'why don't you write a movie?' He said, 'I'd love to do that.' I even told him to write a movie with two girls from different situations. Maybe five months after, he sent me the script. It was a beautiful story with a part for me.

Sisters share a moment

SheKnows: When an actress sees a part like that, one specifically designed for you, does it make you nervous tackling the character?

Elsa Zylberstein: Oh, no. When you're an actress you're just dying to get good material. That's the only key. These two parts are great because I think they were both in jail in a way. My part is in jail too, morally, she pretends that her life is going well and the minute her sister comes into her life, everything is shaken. Everything goes wrong. She's happy, but guilty. It's a very ambiguous character. That was interesting and I'm very proud of that. To have a part that has layers. There are so many colors.

SheKnows: I would think it would be inspiring to dive into that.

Elsa Zylberstein: It was.

SheKnows: At the same time, it is such an emotional stirring film. Does it ever come home with you after a day on the set?

Elsa's command of the classroom does not help her at home

Elsa Zylberstein: Always. All my parts come home with me. I don't think you can do it any other way. I was very fragile when I did this movie. You open your heart on a tightrope. You bring who you are because those are your emotions.

Sister act

SheKnows: It really is a sister story.

Elsa Zylberstein: My character so depends on her sister. Even when I'm walking, I can't walk really. Everything is because of her. I didn't want children because of her. Maybe, I love books because I can escape from reality – all that, everything, it's all about the sister. It was the most difficult thing. The scene in the pool, I wanted it to be like when they were fourteen. And you know, the more the movie goes, the more they discover each other like two strangers.

SheKnows: So many times in film we are witnessing two characters who are not related who discover each other. In Loved You So Long, they are strangers who in fact are related.

Elsa Zylberstein: It brings up blood. What does it mean to be from the same family? How far can you go from each other? In the film she goes to prison for 15 years and I visit her once. But, in my head, I never forget her.

SheKnows: For you as an actress for this to work as effectively as it does, the person who plays your sister, the chemistry between you two is just incredible. I'm curious, have you ever met Kristin before this film

Elsa Zylberstein: We've met from time to time at parties. We met for the movie once. The director didn't want us to meet.

SheKnows: That's probably best.

Elsa Zylberstein: Yeah, we did one reading, but a flat reading. It went really well.

SheKnows: By the end of this thing, did you guys develop a sort of kinship?

Secrets lie at the heart of Loved You So Long

Elsa Zylberstein: It's weird. We had on this movie between us. I haven't seen her in a while, she's in New York doing a play, but of course, I think we're two very involved in committed actress and of course, it creates something special when you've played such a part with someone.

Language barriers

SheKnows: Did any of the filmmakers have any reservations about Kristin tackling a part purely in French who was clearly not born in France?

Elsa Zylberstein: No, it was fine with me because we were looking for someone to fit with me – the right person. Philippe said we'll make the mother English. No one cares. There are no boundaries any more. Loved You So Long is universal in what it says about secrets, about love, about guilt and families. It is about how things are unsaid and how you can be ruined by secrets.

SheKnows: There are elements in it that anyone who is in a family can relate to.

Elsa Zylberstein: Yeah, exactly.

SheKnows: You mentioned the response, how's that been for you? You've been a part of this film from the beginning - from the initial suggestion.

Elsa Zylberstein: I take every day as it comes. I feel so lucky. I'm so happy. I have dreams. I always knew I wanted to be an actress. I had so much faith in what I am inside. It's just heaven.