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Elliott Crosset Hove: the wonder child

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Every year, the European Shooting Stars' jury selects ten up-and-coming actors and actresses under 35. Meet one of the revelations of this year: Danish actor Elliot Crosset Hove.

During the Berlinale Film Festival in Berlin, the ten European Shooting Stars were presented to over sixty casting directors, agents and producers. Among these potential up-and-coming stars of the big screen was Danish prodigy Elliott Crosset Hove, who at thirty years old finds himself at the start of a promising career.

After graduating from the National School of Performing Arts of Copenhagen in 2015, he was nominated for a Robert Award two years later—the Danish equivalent of the Oscars—for his performances as a supporting actor in Parents by Christian Tafdrup and In the Blood by Rasmus Heisterberg. The following year, his role in Winter Brothers, the tremendous movie debut by Icelandic director Hlynur Palmason, exposed him to an even wider audience. For this film he won Best Actor in a Leading Role at the Robert Awards, as well as at the Vilnius and Locarno film festivals.

It wouldn't matter if I died tomorrow, because I was in Winter Brothers.” Two years after the film's initial release, Elliott is still equally passionate about Winter Brothers as he was in his first interviews about the film.

He plays Emil, a young “love-starved” miner who feels trapped in a universe dominated by masculinity. Completely out of sync with his environment, it is mainly because of his older brother Johan (Simon Sears) that the other miners tolerate him. That and the fact that he brews his own alcohol from solvents he steals from the factory.

Whether Emil is simply a highly sensitive young man or a potentially dangerous psychopath is impossible to tell. All we know is that he is as sensitive as he is complex. “I have a passion for outsiders, those who are looked down upon”. Elliott didn't have much of a choice; the role was written especially for him. “Hlynur Palmason and I know each other, I had a part in the movie he made as part of his graduation project in 2013. When he told me he wanted me to play Emil, it felt incredible. The fact that he thought I was capable of playing this role was truly an honor.

If you think Elliott had a problem with the freezing cold, the snow, the trailer park or the limestone mine in which the film was shot, you are mistaken. The real challenge was to slip into the skin of a young man who is equally endearing as he is disturbing.

Elliott Crosset Hove is one of those actors who is willing to figuratively die and be reborn as a new character. For Winter Brothers, he prepared himself for three months. During this time, he took notes, reading and re-reading the script and adjusting his diet to lose weight and slowly transform into his character.

During the interview he repeatedly talks about emotions, leaving no room for doubt about his hypersensitive personality. Acting as a sponge, it seems like he absorbs everything around him. Often leaning forward, with his hand on his chest in an apologetic gesture, Elliott spends a lot of his time thanking you. But don't mistake his body language for fake modesty; he is simply grateful for being offered the opportunity to lead these multiple lives—to be himself by pretending to be somebody else.

Although he has probably heard the same questions a hundred times over, Elliott doesn't hide behind rehearsed answers. After each question, he takes a moment to think about what he is feeling. He's in the here and now. When asked if he has noticed changes in the Scandinavian film industry since the #MeToo movement, he doesn't reply with a ready-made speech. He is silent at first, carefully deliberating his choice of words: “To be honest, I did not feel a great difference in my work environment. But as a man who has never experienced anything unpleasant, I am most likely blind towards the question.

It seems like this question bothers him. “I did notice something in a contract I signed for one of my latest films. Concerning the sex scenes, we had to sign a form that specified the exact conditions of the scene with the director and the producer beforehand, to ensure that nothing that had not been planned would take place during the scene.” Elliott is unknowingly referring to a shift in how some producers supervise these types of scenes. “In Denmark we have talked about #MeToo a lot and I am glad that these issues are no longer a taboo. Furthermore, it is discussed more and more among my colleagues. It was about time!”.

“with this job, we enjoy unprecedented visibility and it's important [...] to use this space for what is right.”

At the press conference that preceded our interview, the young Danish actor took the opportunity to address the political situation in his country, especially that of women and homosexuals “I think it's extremely important for actors and actresses to engage in those types of issues. Some are quicker to do it than others. I myself, for example, only realise it now. I used to tell myself: who am I to talk, I don't know anything, I'm just an actor… But with this job, we enjoy unprecedented visibility and it's important not only to be careful as to what we say or do, but also to use this space for what is right.” He admits to only being at the beginning of this reflection, but mentions a Danish initiative: “Every Thursday, actors and artists gather before the Danish Parliament in Copenhagen to talk to the politicians and encourage them to take up action for the planet.

What interests Elliott when choosing a script? Firstly, the director's message matters: “it has to mean something”. But above all, the emotional connection he feels towards the project. “I need to feel an emotion, a connection to the story, to the character or even to a particular element of the film.” This connection can be of any kind: “Recently, I played in a blockbuster that featured my father as well (The Purity of Vengeance by Cristoffer Boe), I played my father's character when he was young. The emotional connection was obvious!” Elliott Crosset Hove is one of the few actors comfortable enough to play his father (Anders Hove, known for his recurring role in the American TV series General Hospital) when others would do anything to avoid showcasing their renowned parentage.

Fluent in English because of his mother, the American dancer Ann Crosset, there are lots of reasons to think Elliott might soon join the celebrated group of former European Shooting Stars winners, alongside Carey Mulligan, Rachel Weisz, Cécile de France, Daniel Craig or even Jérémie Renier. Will they give way to the charm of this acting prodigy?

Cover photo: © Andreas Rentz

Translated from Elliott Crosset Hove : le surdoué