'It's everyone's dream to have their pictures show up on Google.'
'In the beginning, you're not used to it.'
'It's a bit weird and even now it's weird.'
Last year, Belgian film-maker Lukas Dhont stunned the film world with his sophomore film Close, which premiered at the Cannes film festival where it won the Grand Prix award.
After winning accolades and numerous other awards, Close was nominated for the Academy Award in the Best International Film category.
Dhont's film focuses on the deep friendship between two teens, Leo and Remi, played by Eden Dambrine, 16, and Gustav De Waele, 15, respectively.
All is good between Leo and Remi. They spend most of the time together, even sleeping over at each other's homes.
But when they move to a new school, other classmates question their friendship.
Are the 13 years old in a relationship?
What does that even mean when children have not yet reached puberty?
The close friendship between the two boys will be challenged and the consequences are heartbreaking.
Close is an achingly haunting film with moving performances by Dambrine and De Waele.
Now, audiences in India can watch Close as it streams on MUBI India.
Aseem Chhabra, Rediff.com's long-time contributor, speaks to the two young actors, as they say, "As a child, it is important to feel loved."
Your film is almost a year old and you are still promoting it and talking about it. How does it feel?
Eden Dambrine: It's incredible. It's my first time in America too. The adventure just keeps on going.
Gustav De Waele: It is an incredible experience for both of us.
At the time you were cast, did you have a sense of where this film will go? Did you feel that you were going to act in an important film that will touch everyone's lives? I have seen it twice, and both times I have cried.
Eden: Well, no. I mean when we started, we really thought it was going to be a little Belgian movie. When we heard our first festival was Cannes, that was when we knew this was something big.
Gustav: I think we acted in the movie because we just wanted to do it for the experience. We never thought it was going to turn this big actually.
How did Lukas hire you? I read Eden, that you met Lukas in a train.
Eden: So I was in a train going back home with some of my friends, and Lukas was sitting next to me. He started presenting himself.
He said, 'Hi, I am a movie-maker.'
I was a bit scared because you don't know who's talking to you on the train.
Then I asked my friends to search on Google to see if it was really Lukas Dhont. And it was him, so I started to feel safe.
He asked me if I wanted to try for casting in his new movie, and I was almost screaming like, 'Yes!'
When he got off the train, I called my mother and said, 'I can be cast in a movie.'
She was like, 'Where is he? Run out of the train?'
I was like, 'No, no, it's okay. He's gone.'
Lukas had given me his e-mail, so my mom and he e-mailed each other. Then my mom gave her permission but she still had to see Lukas first to make sure he was a good man.
Gustav: And he wasn't a pedophile (and the two laughed).
He turned out to be a good man. And Gustav, how did it happen with you?
Gustav: Well, it was less spectacular. I did a little camp with the man who was a casting director.
He asked me if I wanted to audition for Lukas's movie because at that time, I had decided to go to a theatre school.
It was my first time.
I was stressed, but it went well.
I read you both were cast six months before the shooting actually started. What did you do in those six months? How did you get to know each other? I can tell you have become good friends now.
Gustav: Well, it began at the casting. It was the whole day and there were 13 boys. For me and Eden, there was an immediate chemistry with each other.
We were together on that day, and we were also directing each other.
We wanted the part but we also wanted the other to have the part.
Eden: During the six months before shooting, Lukas didn't want us to memorise any lines. The movie was based on improvised lines.
During the rehearsals, he wanted us to know each other better.
He wanted a real friendship to be created.
We baked a lot.
We cooked a lot.
We went to the sea.
We got to know people from the crew during that time.
Gustav: I remember on the casting day, 'I was saying like I don't want to play in the movie if you are not in the movie,' because we felt the connection.
Obviously you had read the script, although you didn't have to memorize the lines. It's a very difficult story.
What happens in the film is not something every child experiences. How did you build that emotion? And how did that tragedy affect you?
Eden: We had a child acting coach, who would tell us this is the scene, and you have to have a certain emotion.
Just be calm.
If you need some rest, be alone.
Concentrate on yourself.
I always listened to music, like Another Love by Tom Odell before the shooting.
It is a such a sad song. I felt sad when I listened to it.
At the beginning, I was thinking about things from my own past that made me sad.
I would think about my character and how sad he was.
But Lukas was also there helping me find the right words and gestures.
Gustav, your character internalises his sadness. Some awful things happen in school. So besides getting instructions from the child coach, what else did you do?
Gustav: Well, the school fight scene was one of the hardest because I had to create that emotion on my own.
Also, there were children next to me, looking at me and it was my first time filming and I was not a professional actor.
But like you said, we had the coach and Lukas also helped us.
Lukas really knows how to work with children and how to bring out emotions.
One of my first scenes was when we were fighting in bed.
At that time, I was really angry with Eden. It was a real emotional feeling, but Lukas also helped me afterwards to get out of that angry mood.
So I didn't have to stay in that emotional state the whole day.
Was it easy to cry in the scenes when there was a camera in front of you and many people from the crew around? I know Eden, you had to cry a lot more.
Eden: Well, it's true, when it's the first time you're going to shoot the scene, you are a bit worried about how it's going to turn out.
Gustav: You are awkward. But then, when you are doing the scene, you forget everyone around you.
You're just focusing on yourself and your emotions.
Eden: Because before the shooting, we had like six months with Lukas and Gustav to really know each other. All that time, there was a camera filming us so we could feel relaxed.
It helped us when we faced the camera during the actual shooting of the film.
Lukas was really preparing us for that first day on set.
Both of you are still in school. But you are famous now. How has life changed? What do your schoolmates think of you guys now? Or is it just normal life every day?
Gustav: In our school, people are okay. My friends are relaxed around me, even when they are happy for us.
Now I really see who my real and fake friends are.
I don't know if I am famous because that's a big word.
But people know who I am now.
Eden: No, it's true, our lives have changed. It's everyone's dream to have their pictures show up on Google.
In the beginning, you're not used to it. It's a bit weird and even now it's weird.
There are people you looked at as icons, and now they speak to you as normal people.
It's weird when you experience such a thing.
But it's important not to change just because of that. I think my friends are not changing.
What about home? Are your siblings, your parents treating you differently? Do your mothers still scold you?
Eden: Our family and friends are super happy and really protecting us.
My mother always accompanies me when I have to go to a festival to LA or a new country.
That's good, because as a child, it is important to feel loved.