Hellblade 2 actress talks about her heroine’s inner demons

Hellblade 2 actress talks about her heroine’s inner demons
Hellblade 2 actress talks about her heroine’s inner demons

Available since May 21, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is a game in which the tormented heroine fights her inner demons as well as her external ones. Therapy for her interpreter Melina Juergens who was never destined to take on the role of the warrior.

Fans of the game recognize his face and his big blue eyes among thousands. The blonde Melina Juergens is one of those real people known thanks to the virtual world. She is the brunette Senua, charismatic character of the game Hellblade, ready to do anything to avenge her lover in a world as chaotic as her head. A role which has earned him numerous acting awards around the world.

However, Melina Juergens is not an actress. She should never have found herself in this adventure. In any case, not on this side of the screen and the cameras. Her job is video editor and photographer. It’s been 12 years since she joined Ninja Theory for this. Long before we talked about Senua’s Sacrifice: Hellblade. She was definitely expected to work on the project. Simply as history has decided.

A video editor turned leading actress

“I first managed everything that happened behind each scene in the studio, edited the trailers and also worked on preparing the scenes,” she explains to Tech&Co. “And then, when they were looking for an actress, they asked me to act as an understudy to test the technology they were going to apply, to also try the outfits, the makeup.”

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 – Ninja Theory

Melina Juergens lends herself to the game. She does camera tests, even records certain test sequences with text. And the obvious is obvious to the creators of the game: she is Senua. “At one point, the game director asked me if I felt capable of playing Senua as an actress,” she recalls. “I was scared at the idea of ​​being in front of the camera, I’m more used to being behind it, looking at other people’s images while editing them. It took me a while to decide. But I decided I said this was going to be the opportunity of a lifetime and I had to take it because it might never happen again.”

She then chooses to “get out of herself” and take her courage in both hands to get started. This will be useful to him. She who did not see herself as an actress finds herself praised for her strong role and recognized by all the players.

However, the darkness of the character, his madness, his inner demons and his incessant struggle, could have been a major obstacle. A troubled heroine who cannot find peace, vacillates, caught between violence, auditory and visual hallucinations in this 10th century Vikings where everything was desolation.

As Melina Juergens is luminous and smiling when she speaks, it would be hard to believe that she found anything in common with her character. “I think we are very similar because I was part of the project from the beginning. I was able to help transform the character,” she summarizes, before seeing a much more personal connection with the character.

“Because of my experiences with psychosis, anxiety and mental health issues, she and I are so similar that I didn’t need to play. I just had to call on my own trauma and connect it with the game, bring my emotion into the game.”

Melina Juergens in Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 – Ninja Theory

Sensitive confessions which give a glimpse of a young woman on edge, but also aware of what the character and the game have brought to her on a personal level. “It wasn’t easy at first because you had to be very vulnerable in front of other people,” she recalls. “But the team really made me feel comfortable in front of the camera to allow me to play Senua.”

A role that spoke to his own demons

She will thus bring to Senua her own experiences with psychosis. Involved in the game as a specialist, Professor Paul Fletcher of Cambridge University was of great personal and professional assistance. To flesh out her character and her interpretation, she also relied on time shared with other people suffering from the same psychoses and mental illnesses to understand what they were going through, if it was different from her.

A role that she took to heart and body. “I was sometimes so emotional about certain scenes in the two games that, even when I saw myself again, it did something to me,” admits Melina Juergens. “The scene where Dillon is sacrificed (in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Editor’s note), when I see it again, my stomach hurts, because I remember being emotionally invested in the scene. The tears were real.” And to remember that the director who filmed the scene “had tears in his eyes himself”.

Melina Juergens – Tech&Co

Emotion is what shines through the most in Senua/Melina’s eyes. The impeccable visual achievement ofHellblade 2 with its close-ups on her face, the torn settings of Iceland, scene of the second opus, add to the heartbreak expressed by the game. And for the actress, it was also a form of therapy through play.

Play to make people understand the disease

“This game was therapeutic. A lot of people have emotions and trauma buried deep inside them. For me, it was an escape to do it, it allowed me to let go, to cry, to release all these emotions that I kept inside me and to do something meaningful with this trauma,” she admits.

She won’t say more about the cause and we won’t ask her. Talking about it seems like a real liberation to him and you can feel it. Melina Juergens admits that she learned from playing Senua to express this pain and discomfort. “This pain can help others, help them to become aware of it, to accept it and to react, as it did for me,” she admits. I hope to contribute a little to that.”

“Video games can help. It’s not just entertainment. It allows you to talk about serious subjects that you can’t necessarily bring up easily in a conversation.”

The British woman considers that acting can be an outlet to talk about mental illness and depression. Hellblade knew how to carry the subject without making it a dark game. We can play it without seeing that it nevertheless emerges in the way in which the landscapes have been thought out, jagged, raw, filled with a thick mist similar to the fog in Senua’s head and her inner violence. Putting herself out there for the role also made her understand that she was not alone and that talking about it could be a good thing for her and those around her. A bit like his character.

Psychonauts 2 – Double Fine Productions

“Talking about it makes sense. If we could do it in more games and people play to educate themselves on different topics, not just psychoses, that would be great.” Many games have already attempted to tackle the subject of mental illness, often as a backdrop. Whether serious games like the very beautiful Gray who also spoke of mourning or distress silent Hillor in a more playful way with the saga Psychonauts and its zany characters, but also the contagious madness of‘Alice: Madness Returns. Controller in hand, it seems easier to raise awareness of everyone’s problems.

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