• Oliver Boon

Critic meets Petteri Lassila

Updated: Apr 28




CRITIC

Why don't we start with the toughest of questions… what made you want to be an actor?


PETTERI

I just want people to approve of me. Kidding. Although, I feel like every actor deep down has to deal with that issue. They’re lying if they say they don't. Okay, seriously though, a deeper answer would be that movies and theatre have played a really big part in my life because especially in times of like a big life event or when something dramatic has happened, it’s been movies that have actually started the healing process for me. My favorite movie is Forrest Gump. My closest friends laugh at this, but every time I've watched Forrest Gump (which is like 40 times), I'll find something new in it that speaks to me in a different way and life makes a little more sense. So yeah, essentially I want to heal people through my art. Or if nothing else, I hope they can just forget about their lives for a little moment and then maybe remember something they had forgotten.


CRITIC

Going back to Tom Hanks. Does he have a career you’d want to emulate?


PETTERI

I mean, Tom Hanks is my favorite actor. But I feel like our type isn't the same at all.


CRITIC

Well he is the all-American Guy.


PETTERI

Which I'm not. But he usually plays like these sort of oddball characters in movies like Forrest Gump, the Terminal or Big. Even though he plays those odd balls, he's still really relatable. In everything he does.


CRITIC

Have you seen A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood yet?


PETTERI

Yeah, I did! It’s crazy because I didn't grow up with Mr. Rogers at all but I was sobbing when I saw the movie. It was a beautiful, beautiful film, one of the best of 2019. The whole time that I was waiting for him to flip out or we’d find out that he's having an affair or something. But no, he was just a really nice guy who genuinely wanted to help everyone feel a little bit better.


CRITIC

Why don’t you tell me about what you’ve been working on at the moment?


PETTERI

So, my latest project is a movie called Darling, You're so Mean to Me. I've been working on it with one of my closest friends Maria Tuner, who’s a phenomenal actress and writer. We went to the same drama school but never got to work together so we wanted to create something together. Believe it or not, our first draft was a recording of us two improvising with these two characters that were created on the spot. Freddie Mercury said that he never wants to explain his songs too much or put too much detail in his music videos, because people always think ”Oh, this is what the song is about for me” and then if the artist goes and says ”well actually it's about THIS…” it will ruin and break the picture for them. So, I don't want to say too much because I believe this movie is best if enjoyed cold.



CRITIC

What’s the basic premise without the spoilers?


PETTERI

Our tagline is ”Shameless meets Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”. Or maybe ”1917 meets Marriage Story”. It’s an observation of a very toxic relationship. Sadly, usually the people we love the most, we actually hurt the most too. It becomes much more vulnerable to say ”I can’t imagine my life without you” than ”this is all YOUR fault because...” also, sometimes you get stuck in a relationship and you just can't let go. Every relationship is different. The people who really know what's going on are the people in it.


CRITIC

So, you wrote and produced the film?


PETTERI

Both me and Maria wrote it, produced it and play the lead roles. We had Tyler Townsend as our Director/DP and Co-Producer. So we worked as a triple threat!




CRITIC

Do you have any other jobs you’re interested in that give some extra strings to your bow?


PETTERI

Acting is my biggest passion, but I do love writing. I have a one act play that’s about social awkwardness in airplanes. You know how you never get to decide who you're going to sit next to and you might end up having the most fascinating conversations with complete strangers.


CRITIC

I love that! What’s your favorite play?


PETTERI

I do love the Seagull by Chekov. Treplev is one of my dream roles. The play is supposed to be a comedy but people take it so seriously. I heard that during the first performance at the Moscow Art Theatre, when Treplev entered the stage with that dead seagull, everyone burst out laughing!


CRITIC

What’s the Finnish acting community like in LA?


PETTERI

I’ve met some Finnish people here but I think there are way more Norwegians and Swedes and even Icelandic people. We're like the bastard child of Nordic countries because all the other countries speak a very similar language, while ours is just out of this world. So they can at least understand each other but no one can understand us. In the beginning there were some pretty big cultural differences too. For example, there’s no concept of small talk in Finnish culture. So first I thought that everyone’s so freaking nice here! They actually asked how I was doing! So I would answer seriously to their small talk and create awkward moments.


CRITIC

Tell me about a recent play you were in.


PETTERI

I played Robert in Don't Dress for Dinner by Marc Camoletti and it was probably the funniest play I've ever done. My director was Ian Ogilvy. He's a genius of Farce. I love working with him. The play was fun but very hard. I doubt I will ever have as hard a monologue in my career as Robert’s. I had a page long monologue with no punctuation. The stage direction literally says ”he takes a deep breath in and jumps into the deep, deep end of the pool”. It was a pain in the ass to memorize.




CRITIC

How did you learn it?


PETTERI

I would just run it over and over again, every day. I also made it a little physical, which I found helpful. In our dress rehearsal I remember running it and not having the faintest idea what words were coming out of my mouth. I just hoped I'm saying the right thing cause it’s just like a train that has to keep moving. Thank God, in every single show, I was able to nail it. I love that I got to use a lot of physical comedy and took inspiration from some of my comedy idols like Rowan Atkinson, Donald O'Connor, people like that. And even though farce is like a machine that just runs and you can't really change anything, every night has a different audience and you might get a laugh somewhere that you didn't expect or the funniest joke might not get laughs at all. You have to adapt. You can't anticipate or you're screwed.


CRITIC

That's a big skill, knowing when to carry on after laughs.


PETTERI

That is one of my favorite things in not just comedy but theatre in general, the interaction with the audience. There would be no theatre without an audience. Every night is different.


CRITIC

What was the last show you saw?


PETTERI

I just saw Book of Mormon for the third time. I love the show.


CRITIC

What do you love about it?


PETTERI

Matt Stone, Trey Parker and Bobby Lopez (the creators of BoM) said: A normal viewer will go and be like, “I can't believe Mormons are so dumb and believe in this shit”. But an intelligent audience member will go like “I can't believe they believe in this stuff. But wait a minute… I believe in some pretty ridiculous stuff too!”. No matter what, everyone believes in something. They call it a love letter to faith. Plus they’re super honoring to the Mormon people and have a great relationship with them. And mormons just seem like really good people. Can you just imagine having a goal for two years to be to go to a different country, learning a foreign language and your only motivation is to just love the people by sharing the good news you believe in?


CRITIC

In honor of James Lipton and the Actors Studio, what is your favorite word?


PETTERI

Cheeky.


CRITIC

That’s a good one! Okay Petteri, final question:

What advice would you give your younger self in terms of being an actor to be in the industry?


PETTERI

if you feel stuck in your emotions, just push more. (HE’S KIDDING.) In all seriousness I heard someone say once that “learning is always an insult to your ego”. Which makes sense because every time you learn something new it means you will also fail in the process. So just get over yourself.


CRITIC

You made a mistake because you’ve never done it before.


PETTERI

Finally, just love yourself more. The way you treat yourself reflects how you treat everyone else. If you can learn to love yourself, you can change the world!


http://www.petterilassila.com/

https://www.instagram.com/petterilassila/?hl=en

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm10610790/








Interviewed by Oliver Boon at Oliver's Apartment in Hollywood.