" I prefer to play roles that are versatile and complicated."

Tiina Mälberg is an Estonian actress and theatre professor. Tiina has been a professional actress since 1992, graduating from the Drama School of Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. She has worked in different theatres in Estonia and abroad and performed in more than 60 plays and TV and film productions including roles in genres as versatile as musicals, comedies, plays for children, psychological dramas, classical tragedies and contemporary plays. Her first international recognition came in St. Petersburg in 1996 winning the best actress in the Baltic House theatre festival. Since then she has carved a number of awards for her theatre performances, including the nomination for the best Estonian actress in 2013. In 2011 she earned her M.A. from the Drama School of Estonian Academy of Music in theatre arts and pedagogies and has been teaching ever since. Tiina has also successfully directed several deeply inspiring plays based on contemporary poetry and is a member of the arts council at her home theatre in Rakvere, Estonia.

MOTHER (EMA) is Tiina’s first lead role in a full-length feature film. She accepted the part because she was immediately drawn to the story and she liked that the mother’s character was explored daringly and without dishonesty. MOTHER (EMA) is not ashamed to depict the egoism and the feeling of abandonment of the lonely people. However, the broader message of the film in Tiina’s opinion is acceptance, gratitude and forgiveness. Recently the film was screened at the Kolkata International Film Festival.

Which medium excites you most - film or theatre?

Both are interesting in their own way and inspiring to do. The methods are different, but creating a role in film and theatre is still pretty much the same.

Pic courtesy - Amlan Biswas
How did you get into acting?

I was interested in acting already as a child and went to theatre school right after secondary school. I was interested in telling stories, going to both the movies and the theatre, relating to the characters.

How challenging was your role in the movie Mother? How did you prepare for your character?

There were no great challenges. I was drawn to this very cleverly constructed screenplay and I felt I knew how to play the role that was created by the writer. I had enough life and work experience to open this complicated and controversial character. I was attracted to all the different layers and topics of the film and I was happy to contribute to it.

What message do you hope that viewers take away from this film?

I hope this film will make people realize that in life and relationships nothing is self-evident and you cannot presume anything. Be happy; don’t expect someone else to make you happy.

Do you have any special moment that you’d like to share from the shooting?

Shooting the scenes with Siim Maaten, who played Lauri, the comatose son, really affected us all, making us think what it would really be like to be in this situation. It made us humble, put some things in perspective.

Pic Courtesy - Amlan Biswas
As a woman in this industry, what are your views on gender equality within the industry?

In Estonia, we cannot really complain, as several of the strongest producers are women - including our own producer Aet Laigu. At the same time, this year marks the first time that Estonia selected a film by a female director for foreign language Oscar candidate - our film by director Kadri Kõusaar. We have also been told that it is evident that this screenplay was written by a female and the same has been said about the same author’s - Leana Jalukse - other screenplays. The truth is, men tend to portray women very differently, and it is up to us to show how we really think and act.

How do you pick your roles, and what are the things that attract you towards a script?

I like to participate in projects that carry an important thought or message. I prefer to play roles that are versatile and complicated.

What advice would you give to people interested in pursuing a career in acting?

Keep an open mind, look around in the world, read books, listen to music, visit art exhibitions, go to the movies and the theatre, be socially active, learn from the best. Experience life! Study acting if you feel that this is what you have to do. I have told all this to my son, who is just about to graduate from the theatre school. You have to have a sense of empathy, understand others, and be a good person in order to be a good actor.

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