Twin sisters Laura and Sarah Bellini have built an impressive acting career together and will star as the ‘Getty twins’ (Martine Zacher and Jutta Winkelmann) in the upcoming ten-episode series titled Trust (premiering on FX on Sunday, March 25), which follows the real life abduction of the then-heir to the lucrative Getty Oil fortune, John Paul Getty III, and stars Donald Sutherland (J. Paul Getty), Hillary Swank (Gail Getty), and Brendan Fraser. Trust follows a contrast to other versions of the familiar narrative detailing a young Getty in a hoax gone wrong, when he enacts a faux kidnapping in an effort to extort money from his grandfather. This act, of course, is encouraged by the adventurous and fame hungry sisters, Martine and Jutta Winklemann who have intertwined themselves in Getty’s life leading up to, and throughout the events that take place.
This dynamic duo celebrate their German and Italian descent won an acting contest at 9 where their grand prize was a contract with the one of the best agencies in Germany. The event would spark five years of film and TV roles, most notably the made for TV film, Tochter Meines Herzens (Daughter of my Heart) on Germany’s ARD Network, and the Christmas movie I’m Baking a Man on Sat1. The girls later took on larger roles with Sarah starring in a Filmfest Munchen selection, The Dagger of Batu Khan, and Laura starring in the German television series Bloch and Here Comes Kalle. Laura and Sarah studied at Bühnenstudio in Hamburg and an acting studio in Los Angeles before filming their roles in Trust. These almost inseparable sisters enjoy jazz funk dancing, yoga, Pilates, and also have a younger brother Nico who also acts. Laura and Sarah Bellini recently answered my detailed questions about their daily lives, acting processes and future plans…well, at least a tease.
Please describe your daily routine and how you maintain discipline and balance.
Laura: I like to read and research more about my field everyday, and I try to watch great filmmaking as much as I can. At the same time I dance and workout a lot to keep my balance and strength. My passion and love for acting drives me every day to maintain discipline.
Sarah: I like waking up early and working out. My favorite things to do in the morning are Pilates, yoga, or running at the beach. When I work out in the morning I feel the most energized and productive, overall ready for my day. This is how I maintain discipline and balance.
How does your time together as sisters help build your careers and possibly give you an edge over other actresses?
Laura: I think the big advantage that we have is to not feel alone and to be in this together, to have the same dream. We always understand what we are going through, push each other to our best, and are able to rehearse and talk it through together. We are each other’s biggest supporters and biggest critics.
Sarah: We both motivate each other immensely. When one of us feels down, the other is there to push and inspire. We feed off each other. We discuss auditions and projects and help each other prepare. We always have a working partner and honest consultant by our side.
How has your family supported your career and how do you share those experiences with them?
Laura: Without the support of our family we wouldn’t have been able to pursue our dream and study the craft of acting. Our mom drove us to every audition as kids and stayed on set with us the whole time until we were 18 years old to make sure everything went well and also to keep us grounded. Now that we live so far away from home we share these experiences by Skyping them as much as we can.
Sarah: My family has always supported my career choice. Being this far from home hasn’t been easy, but my family has always been there to remind me why I’m doing this. They have helped me create strength and courage.
What were some of your most memorable times as young children growing up?
Laura: My most memorable times growing up were visiting Italy where our dad is from, spending time with the whole family, and us dancing and performing at every family occasion.
Sarah: My most memorable times growing up are my family trips to Italy. I love Italy. I enjoy being in Italy with all of my family surrounding me. We speak Italian, eat true authentic Italian cuisine, and reside in the most beautiful and historic places I know (Liguria / Lombardia).
How have your dance experiences enhanced your acting skills and abilities?
Laura: Having a dance background allows me to get a better sense of my body and how to use it in relation to character building. I have learned how to express myself with my body language and movements. I got a sense of my own physicality which I believe is very crucial to acting. Physicality is one of the most important tools an actor uses in the creation of a character. Dancing like acting is storytelling.
Sarah: Dancing and acting I believe go hand in hand. They are both ways of expressing emotion. I think my dance background has helped me be in my body. Dancing is an art of experiencing each part of your body, which also lends itself to acting. Being conscious of your body during a scene allows you to truly use your body within it.
What are some of the most common misunderstandings/misconceptions about dance training and schools?
Sarah and Laura: We believe that the most common misconception about dance training is that it is just a sport and not an art. Dance is really another form of acting in which you use your body as the vocal storyteller.
Please describe how performing on stage (dancing, acting, etc.) eventually led to your acting careers.
Laura: Shortly after we got our first audition for a lead in a TV feature film and we both booked it because the director couldn’t decide between the two of us. Since day one on set we knew this was what we wanted to do.
Sarah: My sister and I always loved dancing and performing on stage while we were growing up. When we were 9, our mother took us to acting school. The day we arrived, they were having a performing arts contest at the school. Laura and I both entered and won the contest. Our prize was being accepted into their talent agency.
In Trust, sisters Martine, a.k.a. Gisela Getty (Laura), and Jutta (Sarah) travel to Rome where they wind up in a free-loving romance with the young Getty heir. As the story goes, the three begin to live lavishly while racking up mountains of debt under the Getty name. When time runs out and collectors demand that debts be settled, it’s Jutta who rally’s the idea of staging a kidnapping to extract money from Getty riches. Please describe your experiences filming Trust.
Laura: Working with all these incredibly talented professionals created one of the most memorable experiences for me. From the astounding historical locations in Rome to the amazing transformations the makeup and costume teams took us through. Every location and each set design was so detailed and well thought through, which made it so much easier for us actors to imagine Rome and the lives of our characters at that time. Working with Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy was a dream come true for me.
Sarah: Filming Trust has been a true privilege. I got to work with so many incredibly talented and kindhearted people. It has truly been a dream come true. Shooting in Rome was an experience in itself. We got to shoot at the most historic and iconic locations like the Colosseum, center of Trastevere, and Piazza Navona. Trust is such a great story with an amazing cast.
Besides having a talent agent, what approaches do you both use to display your talent to get you roles and inquiries from casting directors?
Laura: Just working on my craft every day, taking classes, and always doing my best as an actor to be sure that I do my best in the audition room.
Sarah: I believe in having fun and being truthful to yourself. If you rock the body you are in, it will resonate with people around you. If you are truly passionate and excited, others around you will also be.
Have you had any surprising roles or unexpected acting work that you both had not originally envisioned yourselves in?
Laura and Sarah: No not yet, but we are looking forward to future challenges.
How are you able to stretch your abilities in various genres and roles? Do you consciously to try avoid being typecast?
Laura: I work on my craft every day. I try to read as much as I can, I go to acting class; I force myself to challenge myself with material that doesn’t necessarily immediately approach me. I believe that only by challenging myself and leaving my comfort zone I can get better and learn.
Sarah: I work to improve my ability as an actor each day. I want to be ready for any opportunity that presents itself. As far as being typecast, I don’t really think about it at the moment. Each opportunity has its unique qualities and differences.
What do you do personally to keep your attitude/morale high during filming and/or performances?
Laura: My morale stays high because I love what I am doing. That love drives me to be the best version of myself.
Sarah: Rest is a big deal for me. I try to get as much sleep as possible. I also meditate in the morning as well as do some sort of physical exercise during the day. My body is my tool and I was to keep it in tip-top shape.
What do you both want your legacies to be?
Laura and Sarah: To be memorable storytellers. We both want to move people with our performances.
What are some of your upcoming acting/producing projects?
Laura: Aside from FX’s Trust, I am not able to talk about future projects at this time, but stay tuned.
Sarah: I have a few things in the works. Once they come further to fruition I will be excited to share.
Thank you both so much for your time.
See the feature film All the Money in the World before seeing Trust, written by Simon Beaufoy and directed by Danny Boyle, on the FX channel beginning Sunday, March 25.