Photo Credit: Jérémy BARNIAUD
“Born in France, Elisa LE HIR first chose a scientific field by joining the French “Classes préparatoires aux Grandes Ecoles” and then successfully passed to integrate the “Ecole Nationale Supérieure Maritime” in France, where she graduated at 25- years-old as Captain and Chief Engineer of the French Merchant Marine. She was also Officer in the French Navy.
She spent 10 years in this field and travelled all around the world sailing across the oceans where she did rich encounters and cultural discoveries.
In 2017, she decided to complete a two-year intensive course at Cours Florent Paris then at the Giles Foreman Centre for Acting between London and Paris.
She also graduated from an ATCL of the London Drama Centre.
Photo Credit: Jérémy BARNIAUD
Tell us about your background as an Actress.
During my studies, I played different roles in theater:
-- THE CRUCIBLE of Arthur MILLER – The role of Elisabeth Proctor directed by Patrick ALLUIN in Paris.
It was the discovery of playing for me in front of an audience and Patrick was great as a director because I must say we laugh a lot with him, and we did a lot of diction and how to carry the voice to the back of the room with the FABLES of Jean DE LA FONTAINE which became a habit of warming up before each performance!
This experience was just amazing!
-- A part of THE CID of Pierre CORNEILLE – The leading role of Chimene directed by Patrick ALLUIN in Paris.
I remembered watching the jury members with a big smile when arriving on stage like a dog so happy to arrive seeing his trainers!
Of course, this is something they pointed out to me during their remark, and they were right!
-- ONCLE VANIA of Anton CHEKHOV – The leading role of Elena directed by Lysandre ELESSA in Paris.
This play was energy-intensive because we did a lot of object exercise, voice exercise, and trans-dance.
Lysandre was a great and very demanding director and I think having directors like this pushes us out of our comfort zone. This does not necessarily please everyone, but it was extremely formative for me!
-- DOM JUAN of MOLIÈRE – The role of Dona Louisa and La Ramee directed by Lysandre ELESSA and Patrick ALLUIN in Paris.
Again, with Patrick it was amazing! We laughed a lot which did not prevent us from improving our acting techniques and working hard, quite the contrary! Patrick had chosen to change the character from Don Louis to Donna Louisa which, in the character code research exercises, once again made us laugh a lot! Dona Louisa was in her staging, a character with a lot of tempers and very authoritarian, on the verge of sadism! We also had to make costume proposals and for the character of La Ramée I had brought my Lagherta costume from the VIKINGS series with my whip and my riding boots and when I arrived, I immediately understood at the head of Patrick that it was done!
Photo Credit: Christophe BRACHET:
What do you look for in a role?
I admit to having a big penchant for characters of stable essence, strong characters with a hint of weakness. I like the idea that with each of the characters I play I have to search for historical context, to look inside myself for things that I would never do in real life, and the idea of experimenting with very physical things like action scenes, combat scenes, but also subtle roles that exude humanity.
It’s a job where, through a story, we can get a lot of messages across and I would like to say that sometimes, more than politics, actors have an important role to play in terms of the values they convey!
Playing a role is also an opportunity to make people dream and God knows if some countries need it in these times of war!
Photo Credit: Emmanuel RAPIDEL
What would a Director notice about you?
At first glance, I think he will signal that I am a determined woman, adapt quickly, and focus on my work. Then when I’m a little more relaxed, I think he’ll notice that I’m a joker! But it’s difficult to say because one director does not make the other and I must say that I also adapt my attitude according to the people I have in front of me without however moving away from my values of what am I.
How has your work as a Captain and Chief Engineer of the French Merchant Marine, strengthen your ability to act?
Being a Captain or Chief Engineer is like managing a small town that travels on the water with all the infrastructure that goes with it (being in the cinema is a bit the same): fuel to move forward (producers bring money), a control bridge (the directors, the screenwriters), the machine (the actors, the sound and light engineers, the editors, the costume designers, the decorators, etc.), a rapid adaptation of “living together” and this, with respect and whatever our origins, our social background, our “levels of study”. The expression “we are all on the same boat” carries all its meaning!
An intrinsic organization is necessary for the life of the ship: organization of life on board, administration, maintenance, periodic exercises, crisis management (medical emergency, fire, security problems (fire, damage,)/ …) or security.
In the cinema, an organization defined in advance is necessary to move in the same direction.
Crisis management can be assimilated for example for an actor to improvisation.
I think the main consequence of the Merchant Marine is that it quickly put me before the notion of “doing”, of living in action in a “t” instant with great responsibilities and not being too much in my head.
When I act, I must be in the present moment and focus on reality, it’s a responsibility towards the author, the director, the screenwriters, and the other actors.
It was necessary to have a minimum of self-confidence while knowing how to question myself.
In the Merchant Marine, I had to have a notion of management and finance.
As an actress, I don’t only have to play on a set, but also to be a businesswoman to manage my career and my image.
In the Merchant Marine, I would say that at the beginning of my career I was a little average in everything and as I went along, I end up improving myself in the notions of decision-making and consequences both on a technical and human level.
As an actress, at first, it’s using my comfort zone concerning my essence, then experimenting with other roles over time and improving over time my palette of acting and the intensity of my intentions.
Finally, being on a ship learns to be creative and versatile.
Tell us about your favorite roles.
Sarah « Mac » MACKENZIE in JAG created by Donald P. Bellisario
When I was young, I was a big fan of this role because it was inspired by reality, and I was thinking of becoming a lawyer! I think the fact I lived near a military camp with many children’s military who was friends must have played! It was certainly the series that made me want to think about being a pilot plan and to love mechanics in general.
The love story between her and Harmon « Harm » Rabb Jr. was very subtle. The script was each time amazing, well filmed, coherent with the evolution of the characters, the music and sets were incredible, the deep friendship and respect that developed between the characters despite the hierarchical gradient are frankly well done!
Noami NAGATA in THE EXPANSE created by Mark FERGUS and Hawk OSTBY, Emma Green in AWAY created by Andrew HINDERAKER, Michael BURNHAM in STAR TREK: DISCOVERY created by Bryan FULLER and Alex KURTZMAN, and Leeloominaï Lekatariba Lamina-Tchaï Ekbat De Sebat (alias Leeloo) of THE 5TH ELEMENT co-written and directed by Luc BESSON
It reminded me a lot of the feelings I felt on board ships.
The loneliness when I was away from the people who were dear to me and at the same time the feeling of a real family on board the ship, the discovery of new places which was a real pleasure.
These series were very well written, each scene has an amazing set, the costume, the coherence, and the evolution of the characters are surprising. Some of them have a lot of action like THE FIFTH ELEMENT, THE EXPANSE, STAR TREK: DISCOVERY but on the other hand AWAY was very calm. It is very similar to reality.
Moreover, THE FIFTH ELEMENT was incredibly ahead of its time!
You have high-level martial arts training. Who would you like to work with in 2022?
I did a lot of combat training for my work and my pleasure. It’s a sport that came to me quite late, but I must say that, for a woman, it’s an incredible asset because it allowed me to have much more confidence in my body and in carrying it and the power of certain of my actions. I also learned to pose my breathing correctly. Which helped me a lot with the piano and acting! As I said in another interview, more than a sport, it’s a real philosophy. There is a deep respect between the fighters (always a salute at the beginning and the end) not preventing the possibility of improvement in the technique of attack. Because of the embarkments, I couldn’t train the way I would have liked, but I found a renowned teacher in Paris, 8th DAN of KARATE, who allowed people of all ages to train together. So, we did 30 min of intensive cardio then a whole set of combat sports allowing us to mix different techniques (KARATE- KRAV MAGA – K-TRAINING- LIGHT BOXING).
For the entertainment industry, I think it is a real asset because as an actress my body and my voices are my working tools and the fact to control my respiration and being aware of my body’s inertia is an extremely valuable tool. In addition, I’m aiming for action movies, so possibly with fight scenes.
Photo Credit: Jérémy BARNIAUD
You mentioned that you are interested in sci-fi, legal drama, a political thriller, and supernatural. Explain.
Sci-fi: Never far to the Merchant Marine, to get as close as possible to reality, the actors must sometimes immerse themselves with astronauts to better understand the ins and outs of missions in space and I am delighted with this idea because it will reinforce my wish to always learn more on the latest technologies and the possibility of training to a lesser extent like the professionals.
Legal drama and political thriller: There is a lot of legal drama and political series because I think that the profession of a lawyer just like being a politician is an honorable profession when it is applied to the good end of justice. These series often make it possible to highlight the advantages and shortcomings of justice. These are strong messages for society. And I think that actors/actresses have an important role to play in bringing up certain injustices.
Supernatural: The supernatural is often very logical films/series in their scenarios and very well “cracked” while adding a mountain of dreams and possibilities! The imagination takes on its full meaning and it feels good to let yourself go and allow yourself to dream even completely insane things!
Overall, I have a thirst for discovering and learning new things and learning from people!
What’s next for you?
Not give up, follow my dream until I succeed!
And go on with training in acting/piano/singing/martial arts/horse riding!