Meet the Cast – Lianna Liew as Elle

We’re very excited to have Lianna Liew playing the pivotal role of Elle.

Lianna hails from the UK– a town called High Wycombe in the country of Buckinghamshire, both of which sound like names I would make up if I was writing a parody of British period dramas.

What got you into acting?

Lianna Liew

Lianna Liew

I always find this question really hard. I think credit has to go to my grandfather. When I was a kid, every Christmas, he would gather my cousins and me to do a little puppet show or performance in front of the family. I always enjoyed that when I was tiny.

I didn’t realize until much later, when I was fifteen, it was because of that that I like performing. I joined a youth theater group, and we got a standing ovation after my first performance. The feel you get from that, the rush, is great. Which is why I love performing and entertaining people, which is what it’s really all about.

What was your acting training like?

When I was a teenager, I would do stage school on the weekend. I danced at Pineapple Studios, as well.

My formal acting training began in London, at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts. As I was coming to the end of that course, I was accepted into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. That’s when I came to America for the first time.

I think the most important thing I learned is that acting should be approached intellectually, first. A lot of people don’t really respect the actor. They think we just jump in front of the camera, and all we need to do is a bit of memorization.

You realize that’s not the case when you get proper training. There’s so much more to it. You have to live and breathe that character, through movement, voice, everything.

What do you think of as your first role?

At the Academy, I played Susy Hendrix, the lead in Wait Until Dark.It was the first I really went into depth about a character. Suzy is blind, and has been for a long time. I had to decide when she became blind, and how, what were her parents like.

Lianna Liew

Lianna Liew

It’s all about things that we, as people, take for granted about ourselves, about our history and our background. That was when I really started to realize that this stuff shouldn’t be taken for granted. And it sounds so cliché, but that is when acting started to change my life. Because I started to perceive the world differently, and really taken in things and wonder why people do what they do.

What other roles are you proud of your work in?

I’m really proud of the first short film I ever did, in England. It was called Truth Or Dare, and I played the lead. That was the first time I ever did film, and that’s what made me realize that film is what I want to do.

I really, really enjoyed being on a set, being on location and stuff. The crew on film sets are the best. They’re the most fun people.

I think that’s what tipped me, Maybe I should be in Los Angeles. Because there’s not a massive film industry in England. I have a lot more theater credits than film and TV, right now.

My proudest theater role so far is as Cecily Cardew in The Importance of Being Earnest, which was directed by Ian Ogilvy. I’m very happy to have worked with him a lot. Ian is a writer, as well, and he cast me in his play The Dragon Lords.

What do you like about the role of Elle in Other Halves?

Lianna Liew as 'Cecily Cardew' in The Importance Of Being Earnest

Lianna Liew as ‘Cecily Cardew’ in The Importance Of Being Earnest

I remember the breakdown said that she had “lots of creative ideas, but no follow through.” In the past, when I was in high school, I used to have all kinds of crazy ideas but never managed to execute them. I’d be given an art project, and think, “Oh, I can do this, and I can do this.” But then I would never do it, because it was impossible.

I’ve never been good at art, never been good at follow through. I dropped art in high school, because of this reason. I had all of the ideas, but never, never managed to execute them. And I think that’s what Elle’s like.

What is your process, once you get the full script for a play or movie?

I’m one of those people who reads and really retains the text. I like to follow the book. I’ll read through a couple of times, and see what matches my own life, what I can relate to personally. And there are parts of her character don’t match my own life… [spoilers redacted] 

Once I’ve done that, I see whether I can put in some what-ifs, with the things that don’t match my own life. Or maybe think of people I know quite well that would react in the way she reacts, that would be the way she is.

And that’s the intellectual process I usually lay on at first. Then I look at the relationships between my character and the rest of the cast. I try and parallel all the relationships I have and the character has.

Lianna Liew with Other Halves castmate Melanie Friedrich

Lianna Liew with Other Halves castmate Melanie Friedrich

That really puts me into the character, and I can really relate to her. There’s not much left to do then, because you’re there, you’ve got it.

When it comes to the words on the page, I break that down. I’ll write what her intentions are, what her subtext is. It’s only after that that I’ll memorize the lines, because you can only learn them when you understand why you’re saying something, what you’re trying to achieve with it.

What other pursuits do you have?

Well, not visual art, that’s for sure.

I studied music in what you in America would call the last few years of high school. I’m a pianist, I play guitar, I sing. I used to play the drums, but it’s hard to keep up when you live in an apartment. What I wouldn’t give to play the drums again!

Lauren is a musician, as well. You guys should start a band with the cast.

Right? Any opportunity to get involved in music, I’ll take it.

Speaking of the rest of the cast, how are you feeling about Other Halves now that you’ve had a table read?

Lianna Liew

Lianna Liew

I’m super excited, even more excited than I was before, if that’s possible. We’ve got some great characters and some great talents. I have the best faith in this film because everyone involved is so talented.

I think I’m going to make some proper friendships in this. I can already tell that we’re going to get on really well. We’re going to have a lot of fun.