Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?
I’m Anna, I’m an actor and I’m terrible at introductions.
What’s a typical day like in your life?
There really is no such thing as a typical day, which is pretty awesome. A day on set usually starts with an early call, driving to basecamp, followed by hair, makeup and costume, then a lot of waiting around, then you shoot your scenes and head home at the end of the day.
On the other hand, a day in a VO booth typically means rocking up in your sweatpants to record lines for however long the session is, and then grabbing some takeout.
A day when I’m not working… that can range from auditioning, to rehearsals, to painting, to playing Among Us with friends, to writing, to eating a few too many Impossible Burgers and crying that the job I auditioned for and didn’t get is now up for an Emmy award.
What’s great about your job?
There’s a lot I love about my job, but there’s one bit that takes the cake. There’s a rare but spectacular moment, usually mid-scene, when suddenly the connection between you and the other actor(s) becomes extremely present, and all pre-emptive thought goes out the window. What you’re left with is raw, moment-to-moment, truthful being. It’s electric.
What are the bits you don’t like or find challenging?
You have to constantly expose the very core of yourself for (usually) complete strangers, and in turn are constantly turned down after doing so. Which is completely normal. And yet, you have to keep picking yourself back up, and putting your heart and soul into every opportunity possible. It ain’t easy.
Looking back, what would you say has been the highlight of your career to date?
It’s a bit of a soppy one, but it was probably when my six-year-old sister told me she wants to be a director so she can work with me on a movie.
And is there anything you wish you’d done differently?
I really try not to regret things; there’s no real way of knowing how things would have gone if you’d done them differently, you know?
You grew up moving from country to country. How come, and what were some of those countries?
I was really lucky that my dad’s work and my mum’s travels took me across Europe, so I grew up hopping between places like Kiev, Budapest and Berlin, and had the immense privilege of attending international schools in each of those cities.
You moved back to London when you were an adult. Was there anything about British life that surprised you, having grown up immersed in so many different cultures?
GREGGS! I had never even heard of Greggs before moving back, but it’s a British institution. It deserves the hype. The vegan sausage roll is epic.
Do you think that international experience growing up has brought anything to your professional or personal life?
Massively. Professionally, I don’t think I’d be an actor if it weren’t for my international upbringing, but more importantly, the experience of growing up with so many incredible people from different walks of life was very valuable to me, personally.
Do you think that Brexit is going to impact the creative industry?
I really f**king hope it won’t. The creative industry needs a break. I think the best thing we as artists can do is keep our finger on the pulse and be ready to make any adjustments as necessary, whatever that may entail. It’s pretty useless advice, but when all we have is relatively useless direction, it’s tough to know what else to do.
In addition to acting on film, you have a number of credits on big budget video games as a voice actor, including Cyberpunk 2077 and Star Wars Battlefront II. How did you get involved in those projects?
I was very lucky to be cast in those two projects by the incredible team at Side UK, who are – genuinely – one of the most delightful companies to work with.
What are the similarities and differences between acting on film and in video games?
I’d say more differences than similarities – in video games, you almost never get to record with another actor (even during dialogue), and you have to rely entirely on your imagination, in terms of what the character is seeing and experiencing. It can be tricky, but also quite freeing!
On the other hand, in film & TV, there’s truly nowhere to hide – the camera will, most likely, pick up everything. Once you are comfortable with that, again, I find it’s immensely freeing.
Do you have a preference for one or the other?
I love voice acting and I love video games as a gamer, but I think I’m always going to be partial to acting in film and TV. There’s nothing quite like it for me. At the risk of sounding proper knobby, it’s such a visceral experience.
Do you ever play the games you feature in?
Almost always! But not because I’m in them; they just happen to be some pretty awesome games.
How did you get into the industry? Have you also worked outside the arts?
As a kid, I was cast in the ITV remake of Doctor Zhivago, and I instantly fell in love with acting. And I’ve done plenty of work outside of the industry to supplement income, but never anything I liked more.
Obviously Covid-19 has completely upended the industry. What are some of the changes you’ve seen as a result of the pandemic, and are any of those changes things you’d like to see retained once the pandemic is over?
There are obviously some really tough consequences of the pandemic, including the devastating impact on theatre, the halting and/or cancelling of great shows and films that would have shot around this time, and the reduction of cast members and crew to put the production less at risk.
Another consequence is that all auditions (bar a very small few) are now virtual. Is that better? The thing is, it takes away the personal touch of meeting the casting director/producers/director when you go in for a role, and means there is usually less direction on your performance (which can certainly be disadvantageous), but it does mean they are able to see more actors than they would have if they were only doing in-person auditions.
I have to say, overall, I haven’t yet encountered any changes I’d like to see continue once the pandemic is over.
How have you personally found 2020 and the pandemic? Has it had an impact on your creativity or career plans?
It’s been very tough for me personally, and career-wise it’s been more or less a standstill, but it has been good for creativity. The very first thing I did when the UK locked down was I started painting again, and a few weeks later began shooting Satiety.
Your multi-award-winning film Satiety was filmed entirely during the pandemic. Can you tell us about the process of creating and shooting the film?
The bizarre thing about Satiety was that I was always planning to shoot in March, and it was written to be a story about a woman who documents her own journey to finding her mother, so it’s very much a solo piece of work. In that way, I was quite fortunate to be minimally impacted by the pandemic – all I had to do was change a few locations. But it meant the world to me to have the time and space to create something so personal to me, especially in such a difficult time.
Where are people able to watch Satiety?
Satiety is currently screening at film festivals, and I’m looking at a distribution deal for later this year. Stay tuned!
Returning to changes in the industry, had you noticed any changes in the period before the pandemic?
I think, from an actor’s perspective, the industry has been moving towards self-taped auditions for a while now, but it would have been unusual to do recalls and chemistry tests virtually. So, while most actors are at least somewhat used to self-taping, the current audition process is still a big adjustment.
And where do you think the industry still has work to do? For instance, is there more to be done around inclusivity and representation, or something less visible?
Gosh, yes. Always. The thing is, we need to – at the very least – be proportionally representative. Some films and shows do an excellent job of this, but I don’t think most TV shows and films set in New York, for example, represent the fact that 37% of the city isn’t white. 40% of London isn’t white, and that’s from the 2011 census. And there is still a massive gap in representation of those with disabilities. I could go on. But we are moving in the right direction, we’re on the right track.
If there was a single thing you wish you had known before entering the industry, what would it be?
However hard I thought this would be, it was harder. Way harder. I would probably tell myself to find more passions outside of the industry, so I’m not constantly waiting by the phone. I’m still working on that one…
Do you have a dream role? And is there anyone you would absolutely love to work alongside?
There are a few Marvel roles I would figuratively kill to take on. Black Cat is one of them. As for directors I’d love to work with, Luca Guadagnino, Kathryn Bigelow, Jordan Peele and Taika Waititi would all be a dream. There are too many actors I admire to list them all, but there is one who to me is quite possibly the greatest actor of all time, a literal god of an artist, and that’s Timothée Chalamet. To work in his near vicinity would be rapturous.
You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?
Don’t be a dick, and be more confident.
Do you have any advice for young people interested in following in your footsteps?
Only do this if you really feel there’s nothing in this world you could possibly do instead. If anything else could be as rewarding for you, do that instead. But if you're like me, you’re f**ked and this is your life, fight with everything you have, find a self-loving way to deal with the losses and genuinely celebrate the victories, no matter how small they may seem. It’s a really tough industry; don’t be tough on yourself, too.
Where can people find and follow you online?
I have a little Instagram account, anna_rust.
And is there anything else you think our reader would want to know?
Be kind to yourself, be considerate to other people and other beings, and know that you truly are loved. Truly. And wear a mask.