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Playing an unearthly beauty in Kaboom, Roxane Mesquida, like her character Lorelei, possesses an ethereal allure. But while her mystique may have the scent of a blossoming femme fatale, the actress — known for starring as the coquette in early works such as À Ma Soeur! (Fat Girl) — exudes a naïveté, unfurled on screen when playing the saint to Asia Argento’s sinner in The Last Mistress.

Kaboom, making its U.S. premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, is Mesquida’s latest film. Directed by acclaimed indie-film director Gregg Araki (Mysterious Skin, Nowhere) and starring Thomas Dekker, Juno Temple, and Haley Bennett, the indie picture has been building buzz since winning the inaugural Queer Palm (awarded to an LGBT film) at 2010’s Festival de Cannes. A subversive tale about modern youth and the inevitable indirection of self-discovery, Kaboom is a document of that transient stage known as freshman year: a time marked by uncertainty in everything from academic direction to sexual preference.

Clockwise: Thomas Dekker; Dekker and Juno Temple, Emile Hirsch, Temple, Gregg Araki, and Dekker; and Haley Bennett

Araki fans will recognize his signature hallucinogenic story thread in the form of animal-masked mobs and a crystal-gazing lesbian witch, played by the mesmerizing Mesquida. Stewed together with a drug-induced, sex-infused youth revolt, this MDMA-laced supernatural parable culminates in an apocalyptic fantasia in which individuality and conformity become as blurred as dreams and reality. “Strange seems to be the new normal,” notes Smith (Dekker), the film’s narrator and lead; clearly the way Araki prefers it.

Continuing to bang out audience applauds on the festival circuit, cast gathered together in the Levi’s showroom in Park City to kicked off Sundance’s opening weekend, and toast their premiere with fellow festival goers including Emile Hirsch, who co-stars in the upcoming black comedy Killer Joe with Kaboom’s Juno Temple. Away from the red carpet action, we caught up with film star Mesquida to talk Kaboom, fashion, and Paris vs. L.A.

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Your role in Kaboom is pretty far out there. Do you try to find a piece of yourself in a character in order to connect to them, or do you more often remove yourself completely?

I actually use roles as an outlet. Express things that I don’t allow myself to express in real life.

Do you find any difference between working on Kaboom and a bigger production such as The Last Mistress?

The Last Mistress is not a big budget movie but it’s a good thing if you think so! I don’t think there is a difference.

Must have been the fact that it was a lavish period drama that suggested a bigger budget! Your films are no stranger to the international film festival circuit, Kaboom included. How has it been, promoting your latest project?

You are always happy to defend your movie when you are proud of it. Kaboom has done so many festivals already and is [now at] Sundance. It’s such an amazing chance for a very independent movie like this one.

Do you have a favourite festival?

I think my favourite one is Cannes. I had five movies selected there and I love that Cannes has the perfect mix between glamour and the most powerful movies.

I imagine working with a small crew on such an intimate production must have made for a quick bond between you and the cast members.

I absolutely love them, they are so talented. We got along really well and shared our admiration for Gregg Araki. We couldn’t believe the chance we had to work with him, and were thankful for it.

While American audiences are just beginning to get to know your work, you’ve already made quite a name for yourself in Europe collaborating with artists such as French director Catherine Breillat, who has cast you in multiple projects. Do you plan to go back and forth between working on English and French language films?

I don’t make any plans, I just want to keep working with people I admire all over the world.

Living bi-continental is a good first step. You’ve recently moved from Paris to Los Angeles. Does it feel like home yet?

It felt like home [from] the first second! The landscape and the weather look a lot like the south of France, where I’m from. I’m really happy there.

So far any American traditions you find funny or strange?

Not really strange… I love Halloween. We don’t celebrate it in France.

What about the film industry, any stark differences between your experiences in film production in Europe compared to Hollywood?

I [have] worked with directors who have very strong personalities, they are very different from one another… but I don’t think [that has] anything to do with the culture or where they are from.

On the topic of personality, when it comes to fashion, how would you describe your personal style?

I don’t know… very modern, I would say. At least, I try to be! I want to be a part of my time, not nostalgic.

Does that mean you would be more likely to follow trends, or is your style fairly grounded?

I just want to feel myself and [be] comfortable with what I’m wearing.

When it comes to events, do you depend much on a stylist?

Never! I don’t want someone to tell [me] how I should look.

Who are some of your favourite designers?

Martin Margiela, Roland Mouret, and Jerome Rousseau for the shoes!!!

Who out of the old screen legends has the best style?

Probably Marilyn Monroe. I’m actually reading a book called Fragments that brings together her poems and letters she wrote. It’s just absolutely amazing.

Last question: European vs. American fashion, which do you prefer?

I would say European because it’s the one I know the best, but I also love Proenza Schouler and Michael Kors.

Photography by Carlos Nunez | Stylist – Krissie Torgerson  | Makeup – Sonia Lee at Exclusive Artists | Hair – David Stanwell at Exclusive Artists