The Meet & Greet: Anna Anissimova, Indie Icon in the Making

Welcome back to Celebuzz’s Meet & Greet, where we talk with rising actors, musicians and entertainers before they hit it big. Watch out for these future A-listers!

Don’t ever underestimate Anna Anissimova!

Despite her small movie resume, Anna has worked with some of the industry’s biggest names. She has starred alongside Academy Award winners Kevin Spacey and Rachel Weisz and gotten acting advice from Dustin Hoffman. Her film, The Whistleblower, has kept critics singing their praises around the film festival water cooler all year long. If one thing is for sure, Anissimova is quickly becoming one of independent film’s best kept secrets. Not too shabby for someone with only three films under her belt! 

Celebuzz recently caught up with Anna to discuss her impressive journey to the silver screen.

You were actually a Page Six staple in New York City. What made you decide to move across the country to Los Angeles?

I moved to LA really to pursue my acting career. I guess the whole Page Six was a part of my life but I was ready to move on to better things. My dream was acting always and my family sort of— you know, my father was always hesitant about his little girl living in Hollywood because you hear all these horror stories about producers and how they take advantage. He was always worried about me moving here but I just came to a point in my life where I was like, “This is my dream. I have to move there and try or I’ll always regret it.” So I moved!

You started your acting career with a bang—starring alongside Hollywood icon Kevin Spacey in Father of Invention. Walk us through your first day on set.

Oh god, my first scene ever on that movie was actually with Kevin! It was just him and I and it’s this intense scene where I was literally just like standing over him and staring at him. I was so nervous because— I mean, having your first scene with someone like Kevin Spacey who I’ve been watching my whole life and look up to was surreal and unreal and amazing and so inspirational! I was nervous. I was shaky but he was so kind and made me feel so comfortable and it was literally just a dream come true, that first day. Ever since that day, I fell in love and that’s all that I can see myself doing.

Did you have any on set experience prior to Father of Invention?

No, this was literally my first time being on set and on screen and it was with Kevin! When I spoke with the director I said that I was so nervous to work with him but I was like, “I’m sure you’ll warm me up and put me in a scene where there are a lot of people and I don’t have that many lines.” And first day there, when I showed up he was like, “Yeah, you have one of your biggest scenes today with Kevin.”

The Whistleblower also features a collective cast of Academy Award winners and nominees like Rachel Weisz and Vanessa Redgrave. What was that experience like?

Another amazing experience! I mean, Rachel was amazing to work with and also very kind. She was kind of there for me knowing this is my second film. The environment was a lot different since Father of Invention is a comedy and everyone was having fun and laughing and this is obviously very intense because it’s based on a true story about sex trafficking, so nobody was really cracking any jokes. So, it was different but it was amazing and a great learning experience to see Rachel in that dramatic performance. I think I learned a lot in that film just seeing these people who, again, I’ve been watching my whole life and getting to work with them. It’s an amazing experience and I feel really blessed that I got to work with such amazing people in those two films.

Check out the trailer below!

You mentioned switching from comedy to drama between Father of Invention and The Whistleblower. What drew you to a project like The Whistleblower?

I remember the first time I read it I literally, I think, cried like three times. It was just such a compelling story and I love stories knowing they’re based on true stories and just to know that these things still happen—the sex trafficking trade and these innocent girls that really don’t have a way out—It just really struck a chord in me. I was so thrilled to be a part of it and a part of the story. I think it’s important to let people know that this needs to stop and just sort of create awareness for it.

The Whistleblower has been making its way around the film festival circuit since September 2010. What are some of the craziest things you’ve seen during these festivals?

Well, when we went to Toronto with it, there was a screening and during a brutal rape scene, a woman fainted in the movie! It was kind of crazy. She was just so affected by this intense rape scene that she fainted. The next day, all the newspapers were writing about the premiere and how this woman literally just couldn’t take it. I think actually the studio ended up making the scene shorter because it was too intense. But it was really great to see the response it got and how everyone was so affected by it.  People were asking, “Did you stage that?” and I was like, “Um, I don’t think so. I think I was about to faint watching that scene!” 

You play the lead in your third film, Flutter. Tell us a little bit about the character you play and the movie.

It is a thriller set in Newcastle, England. Basically, I play a bookie alongside Joe Anderson, who has a gambling problem and he needs me. I take him for a ride. Throughout the movie, we kind of find out that I’m not just a bookie: I sort of represent the devil in human form.  So, the stakes get higher and the bets get more serious and she basically has people betting not just on these dog races that it starts off with but on themselves—sort of like how far are you willing to go to make some money. It doesn’t end well for everyone except the devil—which is me! It really shows how being addicted to something—whether it’s alcohol, or drugs, or gambling—really destroys your life and how you never really know when to say, “Enough is enough”.

What advice do you have for aspiring actors and actresses out there?

You know, just do what you love and don’t give up because, even though I’m blessed and I think I got lucky, it’s so hard and competitive but you do what you love and you don’t give up. That was the advice so many actors who have made it gave me. The best thing, I think, Dustin Hoffman told me when I was complaining about getting all these no’s in auditions is that, “You know what? You’re on the cliff—just jump. You can fail and fail—just fail better.” It’s just really about doing what you love and not giving up. Sometimes it takes a year and sometimes it takes 10 years but honestly, if you keep doing it, I think you’ll be fine.

The Whistleblower is set to release in the States August 5!