I received a call from the filmmakers of “Time of the Comet” while I was in China filming “Blood: The Last Vampire.” Although I was cautioned against reading too many scripts while on set, my curiosity swept me into a whole new story of purity and betrayal, of the ultimate sacrifice for love, and the cry for war and death. It was a journey I lived through in text, and hoped to recapture on set.
I play Agnes, a Catholic nun who falls in love with a Muslim rebel, and her story begins with young, heartsick Agnes struggling with her deep emotions and experiences. But I saw her as being more than just a young girl in love. To me she symbolized a country filled with people searching for their roots and happiness during a time of political and social conflict. The movie is about finding your voice in the world, which is something I believe a lot of people can identify with.
Because in the end we’re all searching for our home, that one place where we belong.
Working with the Cast
Because of our unique backgrounds as an international ensemble, I thought we would go through an adjustment period. To my pleasant surprise, we were so in sync and immediately understood one another from the very start. As actors, we dug so deep into our senses, our country’s borders and cultures blurred into one pot of emotion, and we performed above the complexities of language and formality. Our work ethics complemented one another and I was able to form friendships with my co-stars which in itself is a blessing, to say the least!
There was one time Blerim, my costar, burst into laughter at the most unexpected moment. We were repeatedly interrupted by a rooster coughing and gurgling nearby, unable to crow his song, and I suggested we offer the poor thing a cough-drop between takes. I never heard from that little rooster again.
I have so many precious memories during the summer we filmed Comet, but my favorite moment is the scene when my character was crucified. I was tied on a crucifix for three days, my arms caked in fake Hollywood blood, and during my time above the set I admired the vast mountainous view. While I was up there, peering down on the European countryside, I felt solitary and unaffected in my thoughts.
Our scenes took place in Macedonia and Albania. Being a part of the film gave me the opportunity to visit my homeland of Albania for the first time in 17 years. Landing on Albanian soil, and breathing the air of Tirana is by far my most memorable experience. My time there allowed me to experience the rich culture, clothes, and music of a people who showed me such integrity and ethics. I never thought I would have this privilege.
Macedonia’s virgin countryside was beautiful, but the intense heat of the location was challenging. For days we shot in the middle of wide open fields during 120 degree heat. Through the motivation and leadership of our director Fatmir Koci, the cast and crew worked through one of the hottest summers in the Balkans. When I watched Fatmir, his drive and inspiration were very endearing to me.