Keir Burrows’ first feature film, Anti Matter, tells the story of an Oxford PhD student named Ana who has been conducting experiments with a wormhole. When she decides to test it on herself, she comes out of it unable to make new memories. She desperately tries to find answers as she delves deeper into the nightmare. Ana is played by the talented Yaiza Figueroa, a Puerto Rican actress who trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. Figueroa took the time to talk with Hardwood and Hollywood about her impressive performance in Anti Matter.
Hardwood and Hollywood: Unique scripts only come around every so often, and Anti Matter is one of them. What was your initial reaction after reading the script?
Yaiza Figueroa: I read so many versions of the script.
This script had so many layers, a lot of it had to do with heavy scientific concepts, the confusion in Ana’s head, the mystery with the protesters, the questioning about the soul and what we are made of… I mean It was a lot to take in; therefore, I had to sit down and read it several times before grasping what it was all about. I was excited and overwhelmed because I knew I had a lot of work to do and I needed to do it right in order to give it justice. I had in my hands an amazing script and I knew it was an opportunity to give it my all.
HH: Everyone in the cast gave solid performances. What was it like working with these other talents?
YF: Amazing! Most of us graduated from the same school, but in different years. I knew Tom (Nate) because I had worked with him before in another film. Phillipa and James Farrar I got to know during rehearsals. Noah was my scene partner during my training days in school and we worked together in Keir’s previous short film, Grace. They all made everything so much easier. We trusted each other and I think thats is the secret to good on-screen chemistry.
HH: There’s a lot going on in Ana’s mind, especially as the story unravels for the big finale. What was your approach to conveying the emotions of a character in such a peculiar scenario?
YF: Oh man, I studied a lot. I prepared very meticulously for every single scene. During shooting I kept myself away from everyone; that feeling of isolation was something very difficult to deal with. I always heard music that helped me stay grounded.
HH: Did any particular performances in other Sci-Fi films inspire your performance for this film?
YF: I’m always inspired by performances from other artists.
I guess I watched Memento and Primer the most. It helped me understand a lot about the Sci-Fi genre. As for performance, I was inspired by the fast-pace knowledge of the characters in Social Network, and I did watch Black Swan for inspiration because I really admire Natalie Portman’s performance in that film.
HH: What were some of the challenges in shooting this independent film? Was there a scene in particular that was more challenging than the rest?
YF: Many of the scenes we shot were challenging. With a low budget film you have to do a lot of crazy things. For example, I had to climb up the pipeline of the director’s home at 12 o’clock at night to film the scene where Ana is sneaking into the lab. In terms of acting, definitely the science scenes at the beginning were probably the most difficult to get right. They had to sound real and that was something I was obsessed about.
YF: You gave an exceptional performance as Ana. Do you have any upcoming projects?
YF: Oh, Thank You So Very Much! I’ve been working on a Comedy TV series in my homeland of Puerto Rico and doing a lot of theatre at the moment, but I’m probably moving to LA or New York soon.
Follow Yaiza Figueroa on Twitter.
Check out Anti Matter in select theaters or VOD today.