Get to know the girl who has everyone from Bruce Weber to Nicolas Ghesquière gushing
Get to know the girl who has everyone from Bruce Weber to Nicolas Ghesquière gushing
Erika Linder is proving to be one of the most sought-after new faces in film and fashion, with critics and industry insiders alike already abuzz over her first movie Below Her Mouth (making its official premiere at the Toronto Film Festival this fall), and designers fawning over her striking features and gender-bending attitude.
In addition to her fall film debut, the rising model and actress will star in the Fall/Winter 2016 Louis Vuitton advertising campaign, lensed by famed fashion photographer Bruce Weber. It was through this shoot that the legendary V contributor was first introduced to Linder—a meeting that would spark a fast friendship.
“I first met Erika at a sitting for Louis Vuitton. Nicolas Ghesquière saw some pictures of her in a magazine from Sweden and he liked her and booked her for his show and his campaign,” Weber tells V. “When I spoke to Erika we talked about her movie Below Her Mouth, which is premiering at the Toronto Film Festival. She said to me, ‘What do you think it’s going to be like?’ And I said, ‘With you I can only imagine.’”
Here, during some rare downtime between premieres, photo shoots, and runways (she just walked in Louis Vuitton’s triumphant cruise show in Rio last week), Linder to talk to V about her first film, life on the road, and working with Weber for V’s Fall Preview issue.
How did you know that you wanted to be a model?
EL I’ve known since I was ten years old that I wanted to be a performer in some way. When I was 14 I got scouted. I was at this outside concert in Stockholm and this lady came up to me and asked me if I wanted to be a model, and back then I was like, ‘There’s no way I’m going to be a model…I'm not pretty, that’s not me.’ She gave me her card, but all I cared about back then was soccer and ice hockey. Then I graduated high school, and I still knew I wanted to get into the world of performing in some way, so I contacted them after six years. They didn’t really know what to do with me so it was slow that first year. Then I went to L.A. and everything just clicked.
Do you remember your first big job?
EL There was this photo shoot I did as a young Leonardo DiCaprio. To me, that was a fucking dream come true…my agency didn’t get it. They were like, ‘You're a girl you're not going to shoot as a guy, that’s so weird.’ I ended up just pushing for it myself…and then after that, that’s when the agencies in New York, London, Paris, and also other photographers started to see me. I've done so many women’s spreads now, I've told agencies at the end of the day I'm a girl, because people kept seeing me as a guy. It’s fun, I like to play on both, but I wonder if I end up on set with people actually thinking I'm a guy! I felt like I wanted to do both because that’s who I am. I'm really thankful that I did that and I started out my career like that. But eventually I talked a lot to my agents in New York and I was like listen, I really love doing this, and I shot the Tom Ford ad as a guy too and that was great, but I was like, I want my hair to grow out, I want to be who I am!
Was it hard going back to being yourself since you were so used to being a guy in front of the camera?
EL Some people were saying that I wasn’t being authentic but they don’t know me, they don’t know what they are talking about. At the end of the day, it's just a job. You're in front of the camera, it's not who you are really. I am in between those two people that I portray and I’d rather that than expose so much of my personal life on social media. I bring my personal side to the male modeling and female modeling.
What is it like shooting with Bruce Weber?
EL Honestly, Bruce is probably the cutest person in the world. I'm just in love with him. The vibe and energy with him, I've shot with him twice now [for V and Louis Vuitton]. He gets me and it's nice to have someone on that level who appreciates you and understands you because it makes you feel confident and like you're doing something right. He’s really supportive of everything and he sees the stuff that I don’t even see about myself.
And how was it being on set with him for V?
EL Actually, I have a really good comparison because I did shoot the Louis Vuitton campaign with Bruce that comes out in July and that was way more serious. There wasn’t that much joking around because you have fifty people behind him… And then you do an editorial and you bring other people and have coffee and have fun. So I've seen both sides, but the V shoot was like a fucking vacation! I love to have fun and the people he also brings on set are fun people to be around. I know it sounds cliché to say but you just want to be around him because he’s such a talented and great person. I started working with him as I was changing so much mentally and in my personal life and I am moving into something different and to do that with these people has been so great for me.
You must be traveling constantly; how have you adjusted to that?
EL Whenever I come back to Sweden or relax it puts it all into perspective. Sometimes you just get so tired and I'm so lonely, I'm by myself all the time, I'm traveling by myself, and I'm a loner. I love to be alone. But when I feel alone that’s really bad. Coming back to Sweden, and I love being here, but I'm like fuck I'm really lucky to be doing what I love to do. I have a vision of how I want things to be… I'm in a spot where everything is just going to explode and I have no idea where I'm going to land. I'm a little bit nervous because I want to work in entertainment until I'm 65, but I don’t want people to get tired of my face!
Tell me about your new film.
EL The film is a feature about two women who both think they are living this authentic life, but there is something missing. One of the main characters, Jasmine, is engaged to a man and she’s in this perfect relationship and has a beautiful house… Then there is my character who is dating this other girl, who she thinks she is in love with but is not really. She’s this hard-working women who is a roofer. They sort of fall in love with each other… It’s like Blue is the Warmest Color, but I don’t like to refer to it that [way] because that’s like saying any straight love story is the same as Titanic or Romeo and Juliet… The story line is completely different. There are a lot of graphic scenes in it. I think I have four sex scenes.
What was it like filming that as your first movie?
EL So weird! But basically it's a love story, so it's very relatable. It's really raw, and real, and that’s what really appealed to me. The fact that it was an all female crew drew me to it. It is different from Blue is the Warmest Color, which was shot by a man and is really masculine and pornographic in my eyes. This is graphic, you see everything, but it's more romantic in a way. I was fine with it until it happened and then I saw the bed and all of the cameras...I fucking freaked out a little bit! They were like, ‘Erika what's going on?’ I had a girlfriend at the time, and I was like, ‘this is so weird,’ but the other girl was like, ‘Just go for it.’
If you're going to go in, you're going to go all the way.
EL Yes. I'm going to leave it at that. It's all up to the people’s imagination; there are no body doubles or anything. It's my ass, it's my boobs, it's my body, everything! They took such a risk with me. They found some stupid video of me, and they contacted [my agency] NEXT saying 'we want to meet her.’
What was it like working with an all female crew?
EL Some people say, ‘Do you think it was easier because it always all women, shooting the sex scenes?’ But it doesn’t matter because I am so used to it anyway… It is graphic and some people are going to love it, and some people are going to hate it, but that’s true with everything…the crew was very sweet on set and super respectful and I really liked the fact that they were all really young. It felt like we were all a big family creating something together and we never thought it was going to get his far and that it did is insane.
Are you all still in touch with the cast and crew?
EL Yeah, the writer, Stephanie, and me are best friends. We talk all the time and we are planning on writing something together. I study people now—it's kind of creepy—but I sit down and I study people. Maybe that’s what Bruce saw.
Is there someone you look up to or admire?
EL Right now someone I really look up to and has the coolest fucking career ever is Tilda Swinton. I like the fact that she does the major franchise then does this indie movie… and she can play a girl, a guy, a dragon, an alien, and she's such a fashion icon too.
A lot of people online see you as a role model for the LGBTQ community, what's that like?
EL I'm scared about that side of it because I never know what to say, I just fucking live. I put on whatever I feel comfortable in. It's not like I'm a guy or I'm a girl, I don’t see it like that.
What do you do when you're not working or traveling?
EL I love playing music. I bring my guitar everywhere, I've been playing since I was thirteen, so I do that and I try to read a lot of scripts and watch a lot of films. I’m just trying to embrace my time to be me, I kind of lost myself a little bit and I never embraced being where I am at the moment and I just try to focus on that. I just can’t take myself too seriously.
See more of Erika Linder in V's Fall Preview Issue, on stands July 14.
Makeup Regine Thorre Hair Gerald DeCock Model Erika Linder (NEXT) Set design Dimitri Levas Producer Jeannette Shaheen On Set Producer Dawn Boller Photo assistants Chris Domurat, Jeff Tautrim, Ryan Michael Petrus, Roberto Patella Stylist assistant Caroline Shin Tailor Sabrina Caulfield Set design assistant Red Production assistantS Boris Mcnertney, Ron Gibbs, Dave Begley, Chad Arrogante Thanks to C. Madeline’s in Miami