Updated: Jan 13, 2018
Margareta Pettersson is a seasoned Swedish actress. She has worked with the legendary director Ingmar Bergman and acted in several Swedish movies and TV-shows. Now, at the young age of 62 she got a break in Hollywood many aspiring actresses dream of but very few ever get to realize. The movie is called Downsizing but Margareta's career is anything but. Her acting partners are heavy weights like Matt Damon, Laura Dern, Kristen Wiig and Christen Waltz. I had the honor of photographing Margareta and ask her a few questions I know many actresses would like to know the answers to. She was so excited to share her story because, just like many of you, she has worked hard her whole life, hoping to catch a break in Hollywood. The girl with the large blue eyes and a dream to match never stopped dreaming, never stopped believing, never gave up. Here is Margareta's story:
Maria: When did your passion for acting begin?"
Margareta: "As a child. I acted in Christmas plays and wrote stories which teachers loved. I had a huge imagination, always made up stories."
Maria: "Where your parents creative people?"
Margareta: "Dad was a writer and did super 8 films as a hobby but he worked at the post office. My mom was a stay at home mom."
Maria: "Did you always know you wanted to become an actress?"
Margareta: "Yes, always. But I didn't do it the traditional way, I didn't study at the dramatical institute, instead I went to Kalle Flygare, an independent 2 year drama education. I did it my way."
Maria: "Which is the best role you have played?"
Margareta: "Solveig in Downsizing!"
Maria: "How come?"
Margareta: "She is sensitive, eccentric, explosive, vulnerable, half crazy."
Maria: "Do you see any similarities?"
Margareta: 'Yes, I have been told there are similarities. At first I didn't realize it but now I start to see myself in her."
Maria: "How did you get the part? You were living in Stockholm at the time."
Margareta: " An actor college of mine told me that Alexander Payne was looking for a Scandinavian actress my age. A casting director in Lithuania had gotten the mission to find her because he had searched for 2 years but couldn't find the right person."
Maria: "So how did you get to audition?"
Margareta: "I sent an e-mail saying; 'I want to participate in the movie with Matt Damon.' (Laughs) It's not that often you write American directors! I was cocky! (Laughs again) They sent me 2 scenes, a lot of text. The sides were watermarked "Margareta Pettersson do not copy". I could hardly see the text. A friend of mine helped me tape the scenes at home in my apartment in Vasastan, Stockholm. We had an old Samsung camera that kept running out of space and it was so complicated to send the files over, that was the hardest part. My girlfriend read Matt Damon's and Christopher Waltz's lines as she taped me. After a couple of weeks I got an answer; "We love your performance! Are you free in June next year?" I thought; God, did I get the part? They told me that Alexander Payne wanted to Skype with me. It took another week because I had to figure out Skype on my old computer. (Laughs again) It was a fantastic meeting, He said: 'You are a brilliant actress, I will just put the camera on you and you can do whatever you want. You are free to do your thing.' I have never felt so validated. I almost started to cry. After we hung up I did cry. I couldn't believe it, an Oscar winning director wanted to work with me?"
Maria: "Was it always your dream to work in Hollywood?"
Margareta: "Yes, it was. I was here 1979 because my cousin lived in San Fransisco and I got to be in a small TV-show, can't remember which one."
Maria: "Which Ingmar Bergman movie did you play in? "
Margareta: "Fanny and Alexander and Face to Face."
Maria : "How was it to work with Ingmar Bergman?"
Margareta: He was fantastic, just as good as it was working with Alexander Payne. There is a reason why they are so big. They have a strong vision but they let you act freely, if they believe in you. They know what they want but they don't breathe down your neck. They both gave me the freedom to build my own character. There are many bad, controlling directors."
Maria: "How was it working with Matt Damon?"
Margareta: "It was fantastic to work with Matt. He's really humble, a true pro, supportive and kind. And Christoph Waltz was wonderful, so handsome. One day it was really hot. I had a big scene with Christoph and I had a lot of scenes with a lot of takes. He was asked if he wanted to go and rest while I went through my close ups alone but Christopher said; 'No, I'm happy just standing here in Margareta's shadow'. He looked me deeply in my eyes. He was there for me! He saw that I had a hard time. I have never experienced that. Matt was the same. He said: 'I had difficulties not laughing during your scenes'.
Maria: "What makes Matt Damon a good actor?"
Margareta: "He is so natural, it seems so easy as if he's not doing anything. That's a great talent but that's also the hard part of in acting in film, to not do a lot but still express a lot. Christopher Waltz is more expressive but he is still so great and everyone laughs because he has great timing. He is a little more "risky" while Matt Damon doesn't take those kind of risks. I am more like Christopher. It also depends on your face, Matt Damon's profile is like a Greek statue with his nose and strong jaw and speaks for itself.
They are more generous here in the USA. I get that at home as well. But the Americans are childish in a positive way. Like children playing with a cucumber making believe it's a king. Thats how these actors play. They go all in. It's not often you get to do that in Sweden".
Maria: "What do you have to say to women who think you can't make it over 30 years of age?"
Margareta: "In Sweden I am always asked if it's harder now as an older woman. And I say; 'No, I am working more than ever.' I believe this is my turn. Never stop believing, live your dream. Never stop believing. I am so sensitive and now I feel like crying because my self esteem is not always great. That's why it's so hard being an actress. Many actresses are not the best sales persons and that makes it harder. I'm thinking; 'If I was Bette Davis, I would have an assistant and agent who could handle all the business parts so I could only focus on my acting.' Some people have big ego's, have connections and know how to sell themselves but they may not be talented. But the truly talented actors usually have a harder time."
Maria: "What do you think about the Harvey Weinstein story and do you feel that you have struggled with that?"
Margareta: "No, strangly enough, I haven't, but there's always been jokes about old men trying to sleep with young women. I do know it happens but it never happened to me. But there is for sure a large macho culture in the business".
Maria: "Do you think it's a good time for women, especially now after women reading about a Swedish 62 year old woman like you who got an unconventional break. Do you think women have a bigger chance now since women are taking more control and are speaking up? "
Margareta: "Yes I believe that. It's going to be more noticeable in 10-20 years from now when it will blossom, this is just the beginning. It feels a bit like a new revolution, like the 70's in Sweden, and now its an even bigger revolution. It's really good. I think it's going to change. I don't think that the younger generation in their 20's will keep harassing each other."
Maria: " What is your dream now?"
Margareta: " To get another role in Hollywood."
Maria: "What's your dream role?"
Margareta: "My dream actress is Elizabeth Taylor and I want to play her character in "Who's afraid of Virginia Wolf". And to work with Al Pacino. And of course Alexander Payne and Christopher Waltz again."
Margareta ends the interview with a big belly laugh. She is close to tears and laughter throughout the interview, so full of emotions realizing where she came from and how she ended up where she always dreamt of being. The laughter is coming from her heart, it's liberating. It is finally her turn. Margareta is a very talented actress and she belongs where she is. Dreams do come true. If you are talented, work hard, believe in yourself as an artist and don't let the voices of criticism and doubt get you down, everything is possible. Don't let anyone tell you your dream is silly. God put a seed in your heart for a reason, for you to nurture it and watch it blossom into the artist that you are suppose to be, no matter how long it will take. We will all have our moment if we are patient, work hard and have faith that everything is going to happen at the right moment. Relax, work on you craft and stay faithful to your purpose and all will present itself in time, the time that is right for you.
That you Margareta for sharing your journey with us. It is
so inspiring and we will follow your career and wish you all the success in the world and we have no doubt all your dreams will come true. Go girl!