Flaunt – This interview has been weeks in the making. With a hectic filming schedule that has her hopping between South Africa and Namibia, pinning Haley Bennett down for a meeting has not been easy. But even though she has been waking up at 3 am and spending 16-17 hours a day on set, when the actress walks into the bustling Cape Town café where we agree to meet, she somehow looks as relaxed and refreshed as every other tourist in the area.
“When you are filming, you kind of have to surrender to the film schedule,” she tells me, settling in with a gin and tonic. The all-powerful schedule to which she refers is for the upcoming Red Sea Diving Resort, which is based on the true story of preparations for Operation Moses, amidst the chaos of which the Israeli Defense Forces rescued thousands of Ethiopian Jews during the Sudanese civil war in the mid-’80s. Bennett plays a woman named Yola Reitman, who is recruited by the Israeli intelligence forces to work undercover as the director of a diving operation on the shores of the Red Sea to facilitate the deliverance of 12,000 Ethiopian Jews from famine and persecution.
While filming in Namibia, Bennett had the opportunity to meet the woman on whom her character is based. The encounter left a mark on the actress. “Yola is one of the most amazing women I have ever met. She is so true to herself. If she wants to go on a humanitarian mission for a year, she’ll do it.” Although Yola played a vital role in the operation, her participation was initially questioned simply because she is a woman and the operation would be taking place in a Muslim country. “Yola wanted to do something that was important and that meant something. I think that’s how I relay it, and that’s why I wanted to take this role—I want to tell stories that are important.”
“I’m from Ohio, and it’s a very Trump-accepting state, and it’s usually the determining state for who will take office. I don’t know how it is that I was born there because I just don’t share the same sentiments as the people there. I don’t even see eye to eye with my father when it comes to matters of politics. I definitely did not vote for Trump. In fact, I would love for Obama to come back into office.” She stirs her chilled gin & tonic incessantly, and just when I think she’s done she suddenly says, “I love Obama, we want Obama back!” to which we both nod and laugh before continuing the conversation, finished with politics.
We turn to what she does best: acting. This is Bennett’s tenth year in the film industry and her face lights up as she tells me about her craft. “I think that doing television would be very difficult for me. Playing the same character for many years is kind of scary to me, just as being typecast is scary to me. I don’t think anybody wants to do the same thing over and over again. That’s not interesting to me.”
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