Over the past few years alone, Alexia Rasmussen has racked up nine movie credits, one of which, The Comedy, was entirely improvised from first scene to last—something she describes as quite the humbling experience. It comes as no surprise that the young LA native went to acting school at NYU’s Tisch, where she studied theatre.
Her career has so far included a number of impressive performances. Among them is 2010’s Mary Last Seen, a short which became so successful that it was adapted into the critically acclaimed, Martha Marcy May Marlene. Her role as Ariana, a young deaf woman who provides inspiration to a musician in Listen To Your Heart, snagged her a nomination at the International Film Festival in Pasadena CA, and her starring role in California Solo had critics hailing her as the best thing about a great film.
Catch her on screen now in the indie flick Kilimanjaro, about a man who decides to climb Mount Kilimanjaro after going through a tough breakup with Rasmussen’s character, CLare. The film showed in February at the SXSW Film Festival.
The Untitled Magazine: First, tell me how you got into acting.
I got into acting when I was forced by my 4th grade teacher to play the lead role of the Queen of England in a medieval pageant our class was putting on. I had wanted a much smaller role, and was really scared about it all, but once Iʼd done it, I was seriously hooked.
How long have you been working in the industry?
Not long, technically. I studied acting for almost ten years before I got my first paying job. I guess Iʼve been working within the industry for six years now.
What was your breakthrough moment?
I still feel like I have yet to really “breakthrough”. Hopefully any day now! But breakthroughs can be relative. They can be when you get your first professional job, they can be when you get your first job opposite someone very established, they can be when you get a role you really wanted or when people outside of your world recognize you for you work. For me, my breakthrough will come when I only need to work on roles that I love in order to support myself.
Do you have a favourite movie?
Thereʼs a John Huston film called The Man Who Would Be King that stars Michael Cane and Sean Connery. I think itʼs my momʼs favourite movie and she got me into it. It’s good for any season. Itʼs based on a Rudyard Kipling story and is a great treatise on friendship and is both funny and epic. But if I had to pick something else it would be The Royal Tenenbaums, because I never get sick of watching it.
What about a favourite love-scene?
I love all the passionate scenes in Wong Kar Waiʼs Happy Together.
Do you have a favourite actor or actress?
I love Juliette Binoche. She can shift so elegantly between clown, heroine and ingenue. I think itʼs her vulnerability. I love Emma Thompson, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet and Susan Sarandon for the same reasons.
Most inspirational person in a film?
I love love love Gary Oldman in The Professional. What a virtuoso. Closely followed by Elliot Gould in California Split. So hilarious.
Is there anyone who has been a mentor figure to your during your acting career?
I have had a mentor before but not in a long while. Iʼm not actively looking for one, though I always appreciate someone in my life whom I can trust and look up to. They find you. Sort of a “the teacher will appear when the student is ready”-thing. But if I had to name one, Iʼd have to say my dad. He shaped my understanding of film both as a viewer and a professional and continues to challenge me.
If you could be any other actor who would it be?
I wouldnʼt necessarily want someone else’s life per-se. But if I could have someone else’s career? I think Michelle Williams has a pretty amazing thing going on.
If you werenʼt an actor, where do you think you would you be?
Well, Iʼd probably try to find some job working in film on the creative end. Iʼve considered writing. If I couldnʼt work in film, Iʼd probably be an outdoor educator of some kind. I have a passion for mountains.
What was the most difficult scene in your career and how did you handle it?
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to act in a scene on a project that you donʼt totally love. My most trying times as an actor have been attempting to do my best despite not connecting with the material. You have to endow it with meaning no matter what it is. But it can be hard.
Did you ever fall in love on set?
Well, we didnʼt fall in love ON set. But I did meet my boyfriend of the last two years on a set. And Iʼm ever so glad. He’s a camera-man and teaches me so much and understands why I love this work. Which makes me love him more!
Who is your favourite designer?
I love Maria Cornejo, Isabel Marant and the list goes on and on. I wear a lot of vintage and practical things from APC and Steven Alan.
Who is your favourite artist?
Again! I canʼt pick one. My dear friends Justin John Greene and Olivia Hill are the two most talented artists I know. They’re the real deal.
Do you have a particular motto or words of wisdom you choose to live your life by?
“Whatever happens, it’s going to be great” and “Fuck ʻem if they canʼt take a joke,” which is something my sister taught me. So, I alternate.
Can you define what it is about cinema that you love?
I love the collaboration above all. I like the idea that for something to happen, everyone needs to show up and be prepared for an adventure. Ready with ideas.
Why did you decide to go into acting?
Acting helps me stay inside myself, stay present, and ask myself real questions and make choices. And when it’s right, it just feels so good.
What are your current projects?
I’m about to start work on a really different and exciting film called Proxy. Itʼs unlike anything I’ve ever done and will be a real challenge on many different levels for me as an actor. Iʼm hungry for that and looking forward to it.
In your opinion, what are your most notable film credits?
Well, Iʼd have to say California Solo and The Comedy. The only thing I get recognized by strangers for is a funny threesome scene with Paul Rudd. Which is fine…for now.