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An Interview with Hélène Cardona, Star of Caralique

by Mike Haberfelner

February 2024

Films starring Hélène Cardona on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Caralique - in a few words, what is it about, and what can you tell us about your character in it?


In this mother-daughter story, Arlette Linstrom, a successful fashion designer who has fallen on hard times, does everything in her power to help her daughter Caralique succeed in fashion and have a better life. She teaches her to stick to her instincts to achieve her childhood dreams.


Caralique is above all a story of love. Arlette’s unwavering love makes it possible for her and her daughter to overcome and transcend all obstacles. Her spirit and soulfulness are an ode to mothers and all they sacrifice. The movie is also about exploring identity and finding home.


Arlette is full of love. She is the heart and soul of the movie, its emotional core. The audience connects with her right from the beginning, through her creativity and passion for fashion, her resilience, her immense love and sacrifice for her daughter, until the very end.


What did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much Hélène Cardona can we find in Arlette?


I resonated so much with Arlette. My mother passed away many years ago when she was still young. We were very close and she believed in me before anyone else did. Losing her was devastating. I felt that I was honoring her through playing Arlette, that I was paying homage to her in some way.


When I moved from Paris to New York to train at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, I struggled financially quite a bit. But I was excited to do what I was meant to do. For many years, I worked many side jobs while auditioning, in between the roles I booked. And I moved a lot! I moved eight times in eight years. I would call my mother every week. She never wavered in her support, just like Arlette.


I know how Arlette feels. She goes through so much. I was able to connect with her life, her backstory, her struggles, and her relationship with her daughter. I felt my mother’s presence while we were filming. I could hear her voice in my head.


How did you get involved with the project in the first place, what drew you to it?


What drew me to the project was the story, as well as my character. I was very moved when I read Dale Fiola’s script. I fell in love with it right away. Later, when the idea of incorporating French dialogue to add another layer came up, I was brought on board to translate into French the lines that Arlette and Caralique speak. At the end of postproduction, I was also asked to create English subtitles for those lines.


To what extent could you identify with the film's central message?


My mother was the best person I knew. She was goodness incarnated. I love her spirit and her soul. I still feel her with me. She encouraged me to pursue my dream. I moved to New York, even though it was heartbreaking for her that I would live on a different continent. Just like Arlette, she supported me the best she could, with all her heart.


I love all the dream weaving images through the making of the garments and the tale that I read to young Caralique, played by Kali Funston. They’re shamanic. I feel that as artists, we conjure up magic out of anything. Mine is a magical world. I was reminded of Gabriel García Marquez’s magical realism when I read the script.


Do talk about Caralique’s Kali Funston - what was it like working with her?


Kali is fantastic. This was her first film and a lead too. She is such a pro, and super talented. She always came to set prepared, knew her lines. She was very focused and understood the scenes. It was really fun playing with her. She’s incredibly gifted. We were able to create a world completely our own. Kali is bilingual and we filmed in both English and French. She’s also an accomplished gymnast and dancer. She is a member of the world-renowned Mather Dance Company, run by Shannon Mather and home of MDC3 (Emma Mather, Madison Smith and Diego Pasillas), winners of NBC’s World of Dance.


A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


Caralique was made on a micro budget agreement and on a very short filming schedule, only nine days. I worked seven of those since Arlette is in almost the whole movie, with the role of Caralique split between Kali Funston in the first half and Isabella Blake-Thomas in the second half.


Hélène with Kali Funston

at Idyllwild Film Festival

winning Best Actress and Best Child Actress, respectively

Because shooting was so tight and intense, with script changes until the very last minute, and most times just one or two takes for my character, we rehearsed the scenes several times before filming and that was a blessing.


We filmed on location in Los Angeles, at the Sinatra House in Woodland Hills, which was lovely, with one day at a studio in Sylmar.


Any future project you'd like to share?


I’m currently recurring as Monique in season 2 of the Amazon Prime series Upload.


The New Look is a new original Apple TV+ series that just came out on February 14th. It’s a historical drama about the rivalry of fashion icons Christian Dior and Coco Chanel. I voice a Seamstress throughout the first season and enjoyed the opportunity to work on this mini-series starring Juliette Binoche, with whom I filmed Chocolat.


Another project I have is Primate, the screenplay I co-wrote with my partner John Fitzgerald, based on his novel.


What got you into acting in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


I’m not sure where it really came from, except that it’s always been in me. When I was around ten years old, my school interrupted its regular teaching schedule and offered some experimental classes for a week. Acting was one and I tried it. Then the bug was left dormant until much later. I think if you’re an artist, you’re born with this desire or drive to create and you have to honor it. I grew up playing the piano and dancing. I was also a math and science major in high school, and loved studying languages and literature. Eventually I had to make a decision. I had just written my thesis on Henry James on the Search for Fulfillment in The Wings of the Dove while working as an interpreter for the Canadian Embassy in Paris, and realized I had to fulfill my own destiny. I took flight and moved to New York to train at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in order to pursue acting professionally.


The AADA is a two-year conservatory. Training included Shakespeare, scene study, Meisner technique, stage combat, movement, and singing. It became my second home. Then I trained at the Actors Studio with Ellen Burstyn, Susan Batson, and Sandra Seacat, among others. I’ve continued training with Margie Haber, Annie Grindlay, Penny Allen, Cynthia Songé, Melissa Skoff, Christy Faison, Jami Rudofsky, Erica Bream, and Tim Crouch at the Odyssey Theater, among many.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Caralique?


Most audiences know me from playing the hairdresser Françoise “Fuffi” in Lasse Hallström’s Chocolat. Lasse is wonderful filmmaker and super easy to get along with. The whole team was fantastic, cast and crew. We all got along fantastically. We filmed in beautiful locations, from the small French village of Flavigny in Burgundy, to Shepperton Studios in London, and Bath in the West Country. Everyone made me feel welcome, that I belonged. It was a dream team. A few years later, I had the pleasure of playing the French Food Critic in Lasse’s movie The Hundred-Foot Journey, where food is also central to the story.


Another fabulous experience was playing Candy in Lawrence Kasdan's Mumford. Larry is also a brilliant filmmaker and treated me and everyone with such respect. Mumford had an amazing ensemble cast, and like with Chocolat, I was struck with everyone’s goodwill and professionalism. The atmosphere on set was delightful. I was very lucky to have these extraordinary experiences that showed me how cinema works at its best.


For Serendipity, I co-wrote with Peter Chelsom and Alan Silvestri the song Lucienne, which I also sang. It was a beautiful, magical experience. Peter and Alan are sublime.


I had a fabulous experience working with Michael Apted, recording with him on the sound stage the role of Darcelle for his movie Enough. He’s very specific and a great pleasure to work with. It was such a gift.


I enjoyed very much playing Mrs. Russell opposite Cindy Williams and John Heard in Stealing Roses, written and directed by the extraordinary Megan Foster. It was her first film, full of humanity and great humor, and she was amazing. She’s a very giving director, with a great ear for dialogue. I look forward to working again with her. The whole cast was incredible.


I love using my languages. I voice a British Computer in the series Heroes Reborn, the French Engineer in Star Trek: Discovery, the French Newscaster in the series The Romanoffs, a French Weather Reporter in Murder Mystery 2, an Austrian Backpacker in Spider-Man: Far from Home, a Spanish Operative in the series Nikita, a German Doctor in The A-Team, a Greek Party Guest in the series Daisy Jones and the Six, the French Announcer in Jurassic World, BBC Reporters in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and World War Z, and an Italian Tourist in the forthcoming movie My Spy: The Eternal City, to name a few. Some favorite voice characters include the Cerebro in X-Men: Apocalypse, as well as Happy Feet Two and Muppets Most Wanted.


Fun fact: Sydney Pollack based the Nicole Kidman character in The Interpreter in part on my life by making her a Sorbonne linguist and a musician. I also voiced a French Interpreter in the film.


Outside the filmworld you also work as a writer and translator - so what can you tell us about that part of your career?


Acting and writing are two creative outlets for me, two ways of expressing who I am. I have published seven titles: Three bilingual poetry collections and five translations. My more recent collections are Dreaming My Animal Selves (Salmon Poetry) and Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry). They draw from dreams, fairy tales, legend, and myth. They’re filled with animals, who are a constant in my life.


I write in both English and French and enjoy the dance between languages. For literary translations, I work mostly with French, Spanish, and English.


I write as a form of self-expression, fulfillment, transcendence, healing, to transmute pain and experience into beauty. Ultimately, I seek expansion of consciousness. Poetry is a process of self-revelation, an exploration of hidden dimensions in myself, and a way to express the profound experience of the fundamental interconnection of all in the universe. Writing is cathartic as it extends a search for peace, for serenity, rooted in a desire to transcend and reconcile the fundamental duality I see in life.


We are stretched to the frontiers of what we know, exploring language and the psyche. The poem is a gesture, an opening toward a greater truth or understanding. Art brings us to the edge of the incomprehensible. The poems, in their alchemy and geology, are fragments of dreams, enigmas, shafts of light, part myth, and part fable. Poetry, as creation, borders on it. It is metaphysical. It offers a new vision of the universe, reveals the soul’s secrets and mysteries.


Are there any other talents of yours you'd like to tell us about?


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I work with dreams. I was introduced to dream work by my acting coach, the late Sandra Seacat, to delve deeper into a character for a play or a movie. I teach dream workshops, not just for actors, for anyone interested. I also work one on one. 


Dreams provide insight into the personal and archetypal dimensions of the unconscious. They help us integrate our conscious and unconscious selves so we can explore our path, gain self-insight and wisdom, and fulfill ourselves.


Dream work is transformative and nourishes understanding and healing. It is medicine for the soul. In the dream we are connected to our inner self and to the divine. We experience the dream’s intelligence and the world psyche. Everything in the universe is connected.


I also help produce movies. My ten producing credits include the award-winning documentary Femme.


Your website, social media, whatever else?


My website:

My IMDb page:


Social media:


Thanks for the interview!


Thank you so very much, it was a pleasure speaking with you!




All stills by Angelica Reyn


© by Mike Haberfelner

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In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.


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directed by
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written by
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produced by
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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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Tales to Chill
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