She may be a Belgium native, but you would not know it from looking at multilingual actor Lyne Renée’s résumé. From Israeli to American, the talented star has convincingly portrayed a host of different nationalities on both stage and screen, with her latest role in Fox Network Group’s television drama Deep State seeing her portray Frenchwoman Anna Easton. Set to hit screens worldwide this spring on 12 March, the espionage thriller tells the story of Max Easton (played by Mark Strong), a retired Secret Service operative who is lured back into the field to try and shut down an Iranian missile program. Keen to know more, Discover Benelux caught up with the 38-year-old star to discuss the eagerly anticipated drama. Smart, eloquent and extremely passionate about her craft, we predict even bigger things for Renée this year.
“When I read the part of Anna, I couldn’t wait to play her. I couldn’t wait to fill her in,” begins Renée when asked about her role portraying the wife of Strong’s character in Deep State. “It’s so lovely to get a script with a female role that carries such opportunity – to show strength, to show vulnerability, to show so many different emotions. She basically goes through an emotional rollercoaster: you see her presumably perfect life come crumbling down.”
An alumna of Antwerp’s Studio Herman Teirlick, Renée began her career in the early 2000s, initially making a name for herself as a stage actor in Belgian theatres. She has since worked on both sides of the pond, recently appearing in movies including critically acclaimed U.S. psychological thriller Split and last year’s hit British comedy The Hippopotamus. “I’ve noticed that more and more interesting female characters are popping up these days.
The writing that is out there is changing and it’s becoming more authentic,” she points out. “You know, I love our superheroes but we also need to see what’s out there and what’s happening today. If these stories can be told – that’s amazing. I have to say, I’m happy to be where I’m at in my career today and playing Anna now. I don’t think I could have played her ten years ago. It’s been a quite a tough shoot but it has brought so much.”
A major challenge facing Renée in Deep State was mastering the French accent – her character Anna is a native Parisian. “All of a sudden I was presented with 50 per cent of my scenes being in French,” she recalls. “Yes, I speak French, but I’ve been away for 12 years and it’s unbelievable how quickly one loses a language. I was terrified! I was like, ‘Lyne, come on. You can do this!’ I started studying really hard and I don’t think I’ve ever prepped more for any other part than this one. It paid off though – doing a job and being bilingual is just an amazing experience.”
In fact, Renée speaks five languages, a skill which she believes has been particularly useful in her career as an actor. “When you grow up in Belgium you get four languages thrown at you in school before the age of 14. As a child you kind of go; ‘Oh no! Not another language…’, but now I’m like; ‘Yes!’. It’s been such a gift. As an actor it’s important to have a good ear for mastering different accents and the ability to speak multiple languages helps you to do just that.”
What has been the trickiest accent Renée has had to master in her career so far? “Definitely American!” she smiles. “Speaking all these romantic languages, we use the front of our mouth when we speak. But with American everything is used in the back of your mouth. It was such a technical adjustment I had to make, and I sounded so different. I was like; ‘Is that me?’. I had to get used to it. That was the toughest one.”
Renée travels a great deal for her work, with her role in Deep State taking her to locations including Morocco and London. “Filming in the Atlas mountains in Morocco was absolutely stunning and then London was completely different: we got the best of both worlds.” Having spent several years based in New York after living in both Los Angeles and London, the actor is now looking forward to a more nomadic lifestyle. “I’m finally getting to a point in my career where I’m not in one place much. I get to travel and see the world, which is absolutely amazing. I thought to myself: why am I holding on to places? I don’t need to be in one place anymore, I’m free to go where life and work takes me. So I let go of my flat in New York and, yeah, it was scary at the time – but it’s been the most freeing thing I’ve done. It’s such a sense of liberty,” she enthuses. “Then, the time that I have off, I get to see my family. When you’ve been away for a long time, all of a sudden you realise that you need to grab every moment that you have together. I’ve now rented a flat in London again for six months as per the release of Deep State and then after that I’ll see what life will throw my way. I trust what is to come…”
Family is a big deal for Renée, who cites her grandmother as an early inspiration for her passion for acting. “I fell in love with her storytelling at a very early age, when she used to read us stories,” remembers the star. “A story, whether a movie or a photograph, or a piece of music, can make people forget everything – even if it’s just for a split moment. If I can do that with my audience then I’m satisfied, because that’s where the magic lies for me. To move people by telling stories.”
So what will be the next story for Renée to tell? The actor still has a long list of directors she hopes to work with one day. “I’m constantly inspired,” she grins. “I could go from country to country naming directors. There’s so much talent out there…I just hope I get to work with the people that will inspire, to tell great and important stories that I’d very much like to be a part of.”
And could we ever see Renée making the move behind the camera? Perhaps not yet. “Well, before I move behind the camera I hope I still get to do a lot in front of it,” she concludes. “I have big dreams and have always envisaged myself as someone who will find a way to push my own limits. I hope that I will continue to be inspired by my heroes and heroines and hopefully one day to inspire those who came after me. I love what I do and take my passion very seriously – it’s a craft.”
TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER