NJDISCOVER SPOTLIGHT: From Astronomy, to Physics, Now, Actress, SAG-AFTRA. Meet ANNEMARIE HAGENAARS by Calvin Schwartz February 14, 2018
When you least expect it, you meet someone who’ll impact your life, make a return engagement, and impress beyond. Two years ago, at a Garden State Film Festival promotional event at a midtown NYC hotel, I met Annemarie, actress and a relative newcomer to America. Somewhere in time, at the Film Festival in Atlantic City, Annemarie also met her fiancé, Paulo Coelho, an accomplished singer-songwriter. Therefore, we love the Garden State Film Festival (March 22-25, 2018 Asbury Park)
Over the past two years, Annemarie stayed in touch with me at NJ Discover. She had quite the story to share which fascinated, as we’ve just finished sitting, talking, traveling around the world in 180 minutes. Sure, it took two years to implement, but worth the wait.
Annemarie grew up in the Netherlands and by eleven years old, hobbies had materialized; astronomy and acting. “I had the lead role in a school musical called “Ghosts at Griezelsteyn” and discovered I liked acting.” With Astronomy, there was always an interest in how people (astronomers) got their ideas. We chatted about one of her life’s heroes, Albert Einstein. Before she took off her coat, I whisked her into my writing office, and showed my picture of Einstein, one of my heroes too. We discovered our commonality which makes for a great interview. “Einstein had that great imagination and visualization to understand things about the universe.”
“At 14, I really started getting into acting. I’d play roles in school plays and at local theater companies. On top of my school, there was an observatory, where every Friday night during winter, I went up there to observe.” In the Netherlands, acting was not offered at the University level so she studied astronomy. “After my Bachelor’s degree, I went to acting school and eventually went back to university to get my Master’s degree in Foundations of Physics. Then I gave myself a gift in 2010, to study acting in New York City for one intensive month at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute (method acting).”
Back in the Netherlands, she started writing her one-woman show, ‘The Story of the Einstein Girl,’ a haunting supposition story relating to Einstein’s daughter. In 2012, she was back in New York for a month, studied with Michael Luggio and worked in his classes on the American version of her one-woman show. Annemarie performed both the Dutch and American version of the play at the Amsterdam Fringe Festival. After that, in the Netherlands, “I worked my ass off to find a way to live and work as an actress in New York.”
She worked as a researcher in Rotterdam four days a week and also performed ‘The Story of The Einstein Girl.’ Annemarie explained that in 1986, letters were found mentioning Lieserl, Einstein’s daughter. A friend gave her the book ‘The Einstein Girl,’ written by Philip Sington, which deals with what could’ve happened to the daughter. It’s all fiction besides her actual existence, which is true. “The company in Rotterdam always supported me, by giving me flexibility to take time off to perform.” Interestingly, Annemarie downplayed the strict standards of her company, in that they only hired the top 5% of the country’s grads, of course putting her in such an elite category.
As a journalist, I thrive on jumping around, digressing, egressing, addressing. So, I asked Annemarie “What are the five things you can’t live without?” To which she thought for a very long second, “Intellectual challenges, chocolate (I saw evidences as she perseverated on my wife’s chocolate brownies), fiancé Paulo, to be on a set, and New York City.” Spontaneously, the four of us, sitting at my kitchen table, started singing, Christopher Cross’ “Caught Between the Moon and New York City.”
I mentioned that it had to be so hard for her to come to New York, alone, not knowing anyone. “I came to New York with no expectations. I immediately loved it here. The acting community is different. American movies, which I grew up with, because my parents loved watching American movies, are different from Dutch movies. I love the energy of New York. Here the sky is the limit.” Currently, Annemarie works with two managers, one for commercial and one for film and television, and is now in SAG-AFTRA.
Her first appearance in an off-Broadway show was in ‘Casablanca Box’, which is related to my all time favorite movie, ‘Casablanca.’ Speaking of favorite movies, I asked about hers. “Gladiator with Russell Crowe. Meryl Streep and Jessica Chastain, favorite actors, and if Elia Kazan, director was still alive I would have loved to get the opportunity to work with him.”
My research turned up her recent trip to the Hamptons. I knew why. Her face excitedly illuminated. “I did my first SAG feature three weeks ago, ‘The Artist’s Wife’ where I was on set for two days. It was an amazing opportunity to meet and exchange life stories with Bruce Dern. I was so thrilled. And I met Lena Olin too.”
“What is your greatest strength and weakness as an actor”? She drifted into introspective thought. “My strength is that I am very devoted to a part and I do a lot of research. My weakness goes hand in hand with my strength. Sometimes the hardest thing is when you’ve done your research that you need to let go of all the preparation. You need to be able to truly live in the moment and trust that all the homework will serve you, without consciously thinking about it when you’re performing.”
A natural progression of thought, I asked if she was ready to handle prospects of fame, which I strongly sensed was coming. “With this guy (Paulo) next to me, yes.” My wife and I observed such a perfect magical couple.
Next, we talked about a recent project where she shared the lead. A hugely contemporary project, so news worthy, that it was actually rushed into post production to get it out. ‘Honeypot’ is a seven-minute film depicting how Harvey Weinstein went about harassing. It was written/directed by the successful photographer Jill Greenberg, based on NYPD files. Intellectually, we discussed the merits of the film in bringing more attention, reality and awareness to the Weinstein case. Annemarie played the part of the secretary, facilitator wonderfully. I noted her range of acting, then asked how she got this role. She was found by the casting director, Irene Stockton.
Winding down, nearing the 180 minutes mark of our time together, on a lazy, rainy Saturday afternoon, now turning dusk, I asked her, “Living or Dead, someone you’d like to have dinner with.” Instantaneously, “Albert Einstein.” I said, “Me too and finally, before you leave this earth, I won’t be satisfied until I…………” Her answer was rapid fire. “Until I do something meaningful for humanity.”
A perfect ending to a special afternoon. Annemarie has that quality, depth, cerebral connection, conviction, determination and talent to succeed beyond wildest dreams. My conviction is that it’s only a matter of time such that I asked when she’s getting a Golden Globe, Academy Award, Emmy, or whatever, do me a favor, since we’re now friends, get me backstage. It was a deal.
FOR INFO ON ANNEMARIE HAGENAARS:
GARDEN STATE FILM FESTIVAL http://www.gsff.org/