Interview: Hellblade's Senua 'Melina Juergens' of Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

We spoke to Melina Juergens actress of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice about the game, her preparation for it and about herself.

By RON, Posted 30 Sep 2017

By now, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a name that’s reached everyone’s ears. Whether because of the vast range of reactions its portrayal of psychosis can squeeze from the player or the sheer quality of what was called an “Independent AAA”, the game is a clear highlight of the year. We had the opportunity to ask Melina Juergens, who played Senua, a handful of questions regarding her experience as the Celtic warrior.
 

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Sarwar Ron: Who came with the idea of such a challenging character? More so, why do you think a Celtic warrior, in particular, was chosen as the psychotic protagonist? Was it difficult to turn Senua into an optimistic character?

Melina Juergens: The idea came from our Director Tameem Antoniades. He found an article about a Celtic Goddess named " Senuna". Offerings to her were discovered in 2002 in an undisclosed field at Ashwell End in Hertfordshire. Her story inspired Tameem to write the Story of Hellblade.

 

Sarwar Ron: What did you love about Senua? Were there specific things you especially enjoyed about her? Were there certain aspects you felt could've been improved?

Melina Juergens: I love that Senua is a raw and very realistic character. She is a fighter but at the same time she shows vulnerability. I think that I and other people can relate to her and feel with her. I also like the way her character progresses and becomes braver over time. I think it gives people motivation to overcome challenges and come out the other end stronger.
 

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Melina Juergens‏ on Twitter: Finally started to play Hellblade myself today, together with my wolf & some pizza. Never had the chance to play it.
 

Sarwar Ron: To prepare for portraying Senua, you went through physical training which included boxing and even Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Adding to that you had countless shooting sessions. What would you say was the most difficult part?

Melina Juergens: I think the most difficult part was the diet, because I really enjoy eating good food. When I prepared for the body scan, I wasn't allowed to eat all the things I enjoy for quite some time. The training itself was tough too, but it was really fun at the same time. Even now that Hellblade is over, I still sometimes go to mma and bjj classes because I just really like martial arts.

 

Sarwar Ron: How did it feel to be on the cover of PlayStation Official Magazine (December 2014, Iss. 104)?

Melina Juergens: It was quite surreal and exciting. At the time none of my friends and family really understood what my job is, so it was quite funny to see people's reactions to the cover.
 

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Sarwar Ron: Well, obviously video editing is your passion. But after such a remarkable performance as Senua, are you still going to be working as the Freelance Video Editor for Ninja Theory? Or do you plan on switching to acting on a more regular basis?

Melina Juergens: Yes, I am still continuing video editing and filming for Ninja Theory, but I think if other acting opportunities come up, I'd happily explore those too. I am actually quite surprised how much I have enjoyed playing the role of Senua, I never thought I would do anything like it. Three years ago, I was even too shy to read out the script to people. It's been a life changing process.

 

Sarwar Ron: You were into Photography earlier in your career. How did you get into gaming?

Melina Juergens: I started off doing photography when I was about 15. I begged my Dad to buy me a Canon and taught myself how to use photoshop in my free time. At the age of 18 I wanted to turn my hobby into a career so I started doing freelance work. A few years later Ninja Theory asked me to take office shots and if I could also do videos for their website. I had no experience with videos but I took on the challenge anyway. I taught myself how to shoot video and edit and surprisingly they really liked what I did and I have been doing work for them ever since.

 

Sarwar Ron: Do you have any other interesting projects lined up in the coming months? With so much talk going on about Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice already, will we see more of Senua in future?

Melina Juergens:After Hellblade I went home to Germany to take a long rest and spend time with my family. Now I am back to work and we will see what comes next. I'd be happy if we see more of Senua.
 

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Sarwar Ron: There are countless talents in this area struggling to find a decent start. What advice would you give them?

Melina Juergens: I think my advice would be to always take on challenges. Even if you think you’re not good enough, just do it and learn as you go. If I turned down scary challenges, I would not be Senua today.

 

Sarwar Ron: Your becoming Senua is quite an extraordinary story. You went from video editor to video game protagonist. Was the shift difficult to do? Did it come with any lessons about yourself you might want to share with our readers?

Melina Juergens: Yes, it was a very difficult and scary shift for me. I suffer from anxiety problems myself and found it very hard to perform in front of people. I felt very insecure, but the moment I let go of that and started to believe in my own performances, that's when the crew that surrounded me started to really feel with Senua. Their feedback always showed me if it was a good take or not. Sometimes it only took one take to get right, and sometimes it took twenty takes. It's not always easy to get into that right state of mind to ignore your surroundings and believe in yourself. I had to work on that day by day. I guess the lesson I learned from that Is that you can only create a believable performance if you really believe in it yourself. My way of doing this was to bring back painful real-life memories to recreate emotions that fit with the scenes, in other words method acting.

We thank Melina Juergens for taking the time to answer our questions and hope they’ve shed light on her experience as Senua. You can follow her on Twitter. If you haven’t picked up Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice yet, Adam’s experience with the PS4 Pro version of the game might help you with that decision. Have a look at our Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice PS4 Pro Review.

 

Sarwar Ron, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): PS4
Publisher(s): Ninja Theory
Developer(s): Ninja Theory
Genres: Action
Themes: Hack and slash
Release Date: 2017-08-08

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