With her star in the ascendancy the future looks very bright for one of Ireland’s most talented actors
IT might be a long way from Oylegate, in Wexford, to the bright lights of Hollywood but for one of the cast members in the recently released blockbuster, ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ that’s exactly the place she calls home when she’s away from the big screen.
Elva Trill plays the character Charlotte Lockwood in the new film and when she took time out from her busy schedule to talk to the Enniscorthy Guardian she admitted to looking forward to having a little time at home to work on another project and her other passion, music.
Coming to the end of a string of interview sessions to promote the film, Elva admitted that it can be “energy sapping to talk about yourself”.
Bubbly, friendly and very down-to-earth she’s someone who doesn’t have much time for the fickleness of show business and instead pursues acting to fulfil a genuine passion for the craft that has literally been with her all of her life.
Originally from Ballymote, in Sligo, Elva’s mum is married to a man from Oylegate and that’s now the place she calls home.
“This has become home because, I suppose, home is where you mam is,” she said.
“Whenever I’m not working I’m here,” she added. “I’m based in London at the minute but I’m going to be shooting something in Dublin now over the next three months so I’ll be up and down to Oylegate.”
“Mum is here and so she wouldn’t be very happy now if I wasn’t making the journey down when it’s so close,” she said.
Elva also revealed that she is currently housing-sitting for her mum and that regular checks are made to ensure the everyday jobs around the house are being done.
It’s something she feels is indicative of the Irish psyche because as a race we’re not allowed lose the run of ourselves.
“I don’t think I’ve ever met and Irish person who was allowed get away with having notions about themselves,” she said. “The Irish just don’t tolerate that at all.”
“That and if you avoid a round, they’re the two big ‘no no’s’,” she said.
“If you avoid a round it’s up there with an act of violence – you just don’t do it,” she added, jokingly.
Her interest in acting stems, she feels, from the fact she was raised an only child and was a bit of a loner as a youngster.
“I didn’t have that many friends and my cousins were good craic but we never hung out that much and they were always a little bit older anyway,” she said.
She said the way she grew up probably influenced her too in the direction of acting: “I was kind of on my own a lot and I had dolls and I had teddies that I used to think had their own lives in a way; that, on top of the fact I had quite a severe speech impediment until I was about 9 or 10.”
“It was an awful experience having it, but thank God my mum got me into a speech therapist young and for that I had to read out loud and there were activities that she would have me do and a lot of that fed into me watching TV and mimicing the people on the TV and while doing that I realised that I didn’t have the stutter,” she said.
“I think then maybe I put the two together, the worlds blended together, and I thought well if I pretend to be someone else I wouldn’t actually stutter,” she added.
“I got a lot of enjoyment out of it as well and when I was about four or five I said to my mum that I wanted to be an actor so I knew from an early age what I wanted.”
However, it was the love of acting the spurred her on rather than any notion of becoming a star and she admitted that Hollywood was not on her radar.
“I used to get so much enjoyment out of watching movies, especially with my family, that the aim was always to be in something that people could enjoy and watch and that it wouldn’t be just something that no-one would ever see,” she said.
“Now there is enjoyment in those things too because as long as you are enjoying partaking in a movie or a play, even if it doesn’t have a wide audience, that’s quite nice but I always had an aim for it to be seen because that is where the second tier of enjoyment comes from – being able to share it with people,” she added.
“I don’t think I ever had the idea of wanting to be part of the Hollywood glam thing.”
Perhaps, an indication of that was the fact the first time Elva was in California was last month for the premiere of the film at the Chinese theatre. However, prior to that she had never been to Los Angeles.
At the premiere people were asking her what her favourite part of LA was and she had to tell them it was her first time there.
“I didn’t need to be there, I just wanted to be working away,” she said. She said the key to longevity is doing something for the love of doing it rather than doing it to become famous.
“I don’t know if it’s true anymore with so many people becoming so famous and so wealthy so quickly, although I suppose they can make wise investments and stay at a certain level for a while, but I’ve always been very attracted to certain actors and performers who had a lot of integrity because they didn’t do things because it seemed like it would make their star shine a little brighter,” said Elva.
Her favourite actor is Anthony Hopkins although as a child she was also very interested in watching Jim Carey, commenting: “I just thought somebody being that capable of not being afraid to make a fool of himself, that was very intriguing to watch.’
As for Irish actors she said Cillian Murphy is a wonderful example of somebody who is endlessly talented but always remains low-key.
“You can’t help but respect that whereas if you see somebody out and you see they’re just trying to hop on the next hot thing, we can’t help but feel that’s not as interesting to observe,” she said.
She said acting is not a profession for the faint-hearted and for her personally it’s been a long road of “trying and trying” to get jobs.
“I don’t think there are that many people who stick at it, through rejections, for over a decade, and I mean rejection after rejection after rejection,” she said.
“I don’t think there are many people in the game for the wrong reasons because I think anyone who has the perseverance tends to really want it for the right reasons,” she added.
“It’s so delayed because any sort of gratification or validation is quite a delayed process, at the beginning at least anyway.”
However, for Elva there aren’t many other options in terms of a profession because she doesn’t know what else she could do. That’s not to say there weren’t times along the way when she didn’t ponder other avenues.
“I did think about it when all my friends were in their mid to late-20s and they were just progressing in different ways and I felt very stunted,” she said.
“They were meeting partners, they were getting pregnant, they were buying houses, going on holidays, buying cars and I could do none of that,” she added.
“I had no interest in doing any of it and I had no money to do any of it.”
Her advice to people hoping to pursue a career in acting is to ask themselves what their end goal is and make a list.
“Then they should see if they can tick of any of the things on that list, that I just found out about myself, in any other career that might be easier or based on merit, in terms of academic achievement,” she said.
“Even being a writer you have a bit more freedom because you’re not reliant, or if you’re lucky enough to know how to play an instrument and you’re writing music, then you’re kind of at the helm of that creation yourself,” she added.
“Now there are obviously hurdles to jump in terms of getting your music out there but at least you can create on the ground by yourself but when you’re an actor you’re kind of waiting for great scripts of even just to get scenes. It can be a very long process full of rejection.”
Elva said the most challenging part of trying to interpret a role is trying to see where the character comes from by going through the script and seeing what other characters say about the person you’re portraying.
“You get the feel for it yourself when you’re reading that character and you also take into consideration the context and what other characters say about you and how they act around you,” she said.
Then referencing something Robert De Niro said, Elva commented: “When you’re playing the character you do as much as you need to but don’t overdo anything because the trick is to leave a vacancy, an open space for the audience to put themselves into your’ character’s shoes.”
“So it’s to get a deep understanding of what you need to do and what you’re emotions are as the character, but don’t fill every moment with too much of that character because you want the audience to be able to look at that character and see themselves in there somewhere. You want them to feel something”
To-date she has played a variety of roles, however, when asked if there is a character she has played that is her favourite she refers to her forthcoming role, although she can’t say much about it.
“I can’t actually say anything about this yet, which is a bummer, but the role that I’m taking on next ticks all the boxes,” she said. “However, in terms of things I’ve already done I’ve connected to all of them in some way. I used to say that the most interesting parts are the ones that have a sinister darkness to them because it’s easier to do something that’s quite colourful or villainous and then the challenge of trying to find something likeable, good or inherently virtuous about that character can be a really nice challenge but now I feel like I would love to play someone that is difficult to try and make the audience like. I would really like that challenge.”
Elva also feels that people are nowadays more open to celebrating the anti-hero and she’s all for that: “The music I listen to and my favourite bands, and my favourite actors and films, they all have that in common where there’s some sense of darkness, but it’s almost likeable”
Music is a massive part of her life too. She is in a band called The City and Us, with Mark Hogan, who is a son of Irish country music star, John Hogan. However, the band is a mixture of pop, rock and
“We’re heading in to the Studio 8 Sessions in RTE in August and we’re very excited about that but I’m also writing some music with a musician friend of mine, Rex, in London and we’re going to be writing very much rock ‘n’ roll songs and I am super excited about that,” said Elva.
She gets different satisfaction from acting and music but said she feels more comfortable acting.
“I think I feel a bit of imposter syndrome when I sit down and start writing lyrics and help flesh out a song because I feel like I’m not contributing as much as the people around me but I would just love to do it more full on and get more practice and become more confident,” she said.
The band has been together around five years but the pandemic put things on hold for a while and now the band is trying to get the songs they’ve written down in the studio.
“There’s about eight songs that have to finish and I’m back in Ireland for the next couple of months so we’ll get back into the studio and get those done,” she said.
With her star firmly in the ascendancy getting the opportunity to act in one of the biggest screen franchises of all time alongside some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum is something for which Elva is extremely appreciative.
“Jeff Goldblum is exactly the same as he is in interviews,” she said.
“His personality is exactly the same,” she added.
“He’s charismatic, sweet, massively talented and wonderfully warm. He engages with anyone who wants to have a conversation with him or just say hello. He’s incredibly open, that and there’s no ego, nothing; and his wife, Emily, she is equally fantastic - they’re just two wonderful humans.”
She said she first chatted with him on the first day quarantining at Pinewood Studios and it was actually him that told Elva who her character was in the film.
“I hadn’t read the script at that point because I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement and the character herself isn’t in the movie for a great deal of time,” she said.
“She’s referenced a lot and she’s part of the plot but in terms of screen time it’s quite little but it was Jeff who told me,” she added.
“We had a chat about the Grammies and his love of music, which was great because heard him play piano as I was quarantining above him. He is an incredible guy, really lovely.”
For now Elva is concentrating on her upcoming project and while she is bound to secrecy she did reveal that she will be shooting on the streets of Dublin, “but it’s not a movie”.