No./16 Putting on a one-woman pity parade
Sick Of Myself star Kristine Kujath Thorp on getting under the skin of a 20-something liar
MANY WOULD SHY away from playing a wretched young woman who makes extreme, life-threatening gestures in a bid to win public sympathy. Kristine Kujath Thorp went the other way. “I thought it was hilarious,” she tells Empire of her first impression of the Norwegian social satire from director Kristoffer Borgli. “And then I felt really shameful after I finished reading it.” Her character, Signe, personifies an amplified brand of narcissism; in an early scene, she attempts to agitate a dog into biting her, hoping it will make for a sad story. It is, as Thorp says, darkly funny, but it also struck a sombre chord with her. “I think if we’re being really honest, we can see a mirror of ourselves. When we tell a story, we add a little extra flair to it to get more attention or more sympathy.”
For the role, Thorp studied the social-media accounts of influencers and compared their online behaviour to how they seemed in real life. She read up on a case in Denmark where a woman faked a brain tumour: “I stalked her a lot and tried to figure out what brought her to faking this illness and what she got out of it.” And she watched Martin Scorsese’s The King Of Comedy, finding inspiration in Rupert Pupkin’s acute lust for fame.
Yet no research could prepare her for the unusual physical demands of the shoot, during which Signe’s body suffers from self-inflicted mutilation as her appetite for validation grows. “We had a whole day practising falling in a way that felt believable, and a whole day where
I was shaking, and a whole day where I was puking,” she laughs, recalling an instance where electroshock dog collars were strapped to her legs to make her convulse.
The performance has polarised audiences. Some viewers relate to Signe, though Thorp admits that some responses have been hostile: “People are really disgusted, like they can’t stand her. But I get that.” The actor’s experience making the film has made her sympathise with Signe, whose warped quest is ultimately rooted in sadness. Love her or loathe her, there is more to this wretched woman than meets the eye.
SICK OF MYSELF IS IN CINEMAS FROM 21 APRIL