From 2001 to 2011, Erica Linz was a local Cirque du Soleil performer, first in Mystère and then in KÀ. Today, she’s the star of the new James Cameron-produced 3D film Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away, which opens in theaters this week. Linz plays Mia, a wide-eyed young woman who follows a mysterious aerialist (Igor Zaripov) into a dreamlike world that features acts from seven Vegas Cirque shows (including the closed Viva Elvis, but not the recently launched Zarkana). Worlds Away is an eye-catching sampler of what Cirque has to offer, tied together by Linz’s performance.
What was your experience performing in Vegas like? I loved it very, very much. The cool thing about Las Vegas that I think people don’t necessarily realize is that maybe next to Broadway, Las Vegas Boulevard has probably the second-highest concentration of really brilliant performers and technicians and unbelievable lighting designers, etc., etc., etc. But I think people miss that, because they look so much at the glitz, the glamour and the drunks and the trouble in Vegas. They don’t see that right under the surface is this really rich, badass arts culture.
Were you looking to move into acting and movies before this opportunity came along? Not at all. Realistically, if you look at the world of Hollywood actresses, I can’t think of one that has hair like a boy and is 4-foot-11-inches tall. I’m a little more beat up and bruised and rugged than Hollywood is typically looking for in the land of leading ladies. So, frankly, it had never occurred to me that that would ever be a possibility. Until I got a call asking if I would be willing to audition for this, which was an absolute, “Yeah, totally, let’s do that. I’ve never done it before.”
Are you focusing full-time on acting now? All kinds of stuff. I’m now in LA, which is great. I adore Vegas, but I have to say, I really like having raccoons in my yard and that kind of stuff. I’ve been doing a little bit of freelance circus, some really weird fun stuff. And then stunts, which actually, lately, I’ve been doing a lot more stunts for little boys, little kids. I did a weird Spider-Man commercial where I was shooting webs in downtown LA for some nine-year-old boy who was really excited about comic books.
In the movie, did you perform routines that you had performed onstage before? I did. Nothing that I did in the film was just what was done onstage. Even the scenes that we captured from the individual shows would be largely in place, but modified for the film. The main acrobatic number that I did is derivative and based off of what we created for the aerial straps duet here at KÀ. But with a brand new partner, with different weights, with different skills, with eight days to put it together. And that’s really cool, and in a lot of ways really, really intimidating. But when it was all said and done, it was this really incredible accomplishment. I didn’t know we could make something so beautiful with so little time.
What was it like adapting from stage performing to film acting? Really challenging in a lot of ways. Onstage, in a theater as big as KÀ, the last row is going to be 100-plus feet away from you. So if you want to tell your story and make sure that everybody reads it, you’re going to act from your head to your toes. So a lot of gesture, and things are more exaggerated. And then when you’re put in front of a camera, and it’s not only going to be 35 feet tall on a screen but also in meticulous James Cameron 3D, everything needs to be pulled in and internalized a great deal. And with 10 years of that really being my forte and my comfort zone, it took a little while for that to leave and make way for some subtlety. But it’s interesting, and … in some ways it’s really intimidating that my learning curve in that is all on film, and it’s very soon going to be out there for the world to see. But at the end of the day, even though we’re all our own worst critics, I’m able to just watch the film like a film, and I think it’s beautiful.