PORTRAIT: Helena Zengel is the 12-year-old German actress who carries Benni, the film by Nora Fingscheidt, on her shoulders.
Same look and same sweatshirt as Benni in Nora Fingscheidt’s film, of which she is the title heroine. Helena Zengel, 12, is in her second interview. “I have three left”, tells the child who arrives from Berlin, where she lives with Anne, her mother, to defend the film. It is the first time that she comes to Paris. She has visited the Louvre before and is delighted to see the Eiffel Tower.
Hélène is not holding on yet, she pecks at her salad with her fingers, sits down, then sinks into the sofa in this hotel living room and taps the shade that lights up her little face. In a strong and clear voice, she speaks of the difficult and violent role of the child that she interprets: “Benni is very wild, she has a lot of strength, she seeks the love of her mother, especially would like to be close. . But she shows it through fits of madness to get his attention, unfortunately it’s not the right way. ”
Helena Zengel, revelation of “Benni” by Nora Fingscheidt
Don’t let her dazzling blonde hair and rosy cheeks deceive: 12-year-old Berlin-based Helena Zengel isn’t here to play princesses.
A rebel at heart, she channeled her excess energy into athletics before going into the castings – “You can play the bad guy and be applauded for that!” »She exclaims abruptly. Naughty, she is in Benni, a poignant drama by Nora Fingscheidt (in theaters on June 22, for the reopening of cinemas), where she plays a violent little girl, abandoned by a mother who entrusts her to social services. Its accuracy, disarming for such a complex role, seduced the filmmaker Paul Greengrass to the point that Helena, propelled to Hollywood, gave the answer to Tom Hanks in his next film, News of the World, which should be released in early 2021. a English sharp on the set, she is full of praise for the actor, who behaved “like a father” with her, and on the “triply brilliant” experience she lived.