nullVeteran Cirque du Soleil performer Erica Linz makes her debut film performance in Andrew Adamson’s highly-anticipated 3D production, null, which is co-produced by cinematic extraordinaire James Cameron. Following the film’s world premiere in Montreal earlier this week, we had the chance to speak with Erica about what the experience was like for her and why Worlds Away sets itself apart from even Cirque's world-renowned live shows. Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away opens in Montreal theaters today, December 7, and everywhere else on December 21.

You finally had the big premiere – how did it go?
We premiered the film at the Tokyo International Film Festival and that was really exciting and a really cool way to roll that out. We’re really happy to be here in Montreal because it’s an audience that really understands Cirque and is proud of Cirque. And it’s kind of special for me because this is the first place that I came when I moved out of my parents’ house. I came here to train for Cirque du Soleil and then that’s what I’ve been up to for the past 10 years.

So what did it feel like going back to Montreal for the premiere?
Even though I lived here just briefly—I was only here about a month—but I think maybe it was just at such an intense point when you’re moving from the dependence of living with your parents to the independence of being an adult, so it was really potent. But just cool because I felt like we were bringing the film home because Montreal is obviously the genesis, it’s the home of Cirque du Soleil and it’s also a very rich circus culture that surrounds the city. So it’s a highly educated audience who I think has great expectations for the film but also, I think, will get it.

Is Montreal where most Cirque performers begin their careers?
Montreal is where the International Headquarters for Cirque du Soleil is. So, pretty much every Cirque du Soleil artist that goes off, whether it be on tour or to a resident show in Las Vegas or Orlando or whatever, will come through here at one point to train or to do costumes or even as simple as coming out and signing contracts and that kind of stuff.

nullWith this being your debut in film, what has this experience of your first movie premiere been like?
It’s surreal, it’s surreal in so many ways because you arrive and you get on the red carpet and there’s all these people taking pictures of you and you kind of realize that yesterday, they didn’t know your name and there’s definitely something unusual about that. But there’s also a great deal of pressure just in the feeling that I am getting the opportunity to represent a lot of really dear friends of mine. The Cirque du Soleil world is really a family and it’s kind of like you’re sending one of the siblings out to go tell the world about your new baby. I’m really proud to go out and represent all of them and it’s just, you want to do them justice.

Did you have any idea of what to expect or were you just going in blind?
I think with the whole lot of this, it’s just been such a crazy adventure. I got a phone call one day asking if I’d be interested in auditioning to do a movie and then I got a call one day saying that I was going to be cast in a movie and then all of that. So, it’s been an adventure of things that I never really planned on in my life. As time has gone on, I think I’ve just gotten more comfortable with the surreal and I just wake up every day kind of excited to see what new experiences it’s going to bring.

For the premiere of this film, was that the first time you had seen the final cut?
I had seen some earlier cuts and then they did the series of special screenings, which I thought was really cool, for the Cirque du Soleil family. So they did one for the cast of [the Cirque show] IRIS, who is based in Los Angeles so I got to go to that. They did special screenings in Montreal for the people at the International Headquarters and one in Las Vegas for the whole family. So I had an opportunity to see it with the tribe, as I would call it.

nullSo what was your reaction when you saw the film for the first time?
I think it’s beautiful, just absolutely beautiful. For me, it will always be tremendously sentimental because it’s like the most extraordinary yearbook that you could ever have and it features several hundred of your dear friends. But the amazing thing to me was it reminded me how I felt when I first saw Cirque du Soleil, my very first Cirque du Soleil experience before I was any part of it. It made everybody seem larger than life again and superhuman again and it made everything seem magical and whimsical even though it’s a world that I had been part of, and inside of, for 10 years and had become very normal for me.

What do you think it is about this film that makes it such a unique experience for audiences?
Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away
is so cool in a couple different ways. It’s a really cool introduction to the world of Cirque du Soleil if you’ve never had an opportunity to travel to see the shows or they don’t come to your hometown or frankly, if you’re not someone who is in a position that you could afford to go and see seven shows in Las Vegas. It kind of gives you a little taste of what’s out there in these extraordinary physical feats as well as this army of artistry that Cirque du Soleil is so well known for where they’re incorporating music as well as incredible costumes, this make-up and these kind of superhuman athletes and actors and characters but in this way that they all look like they were born to be together. Now, here we are in 2012 with this extraordinary technology with James Cameron and the 3D—it’s to a point where it’s really doing that justice. So even the seasoned Cirque fan will see new details because they’re able to get closer than the audience ever could, kind of be inside the action, slow it down so that you can see everything.

How else is the experience of watching the film different from sitting in the audience of a live performance?
The Cirque du Soleil backdrop serves as the setting for the story of Worlds Away. It follows my character and Igor Zaripov’s character as they are wandering through the universe of this whimsical land of Cirque du Soleil meeting these characters, and these characters have different purposes in this film than they might in their individual shows. On top of that, they actually get the 3D cameras inside, like under the water at [the Cirque show] O and there were times that James Cameron would be in a harness 70 feet in the air with a camera just shooting down on the action. So they were able to get angles and concepts and ideas and just to share parts of Cirque du Soleil that really could not physically be possible to access in the live show.

~ Soriyya Bawa

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