We’re in Broadway mode this week, yesterday with Falsettos actor Andrew Rannells, and today with Birgitte Hjort Sørensen who plays Madame de Tourvel in the new limited run of Les Liaisons Dangereuses at The Booth Theater. For those who don’t know the part or play, think Michelle Pfeiffer’s part in the movie version, and – if you still don’t know – think Reese Witherspoon’s character in Cruel Intentions (the modern-day movie version of this 1700’s period piece).
Truth time: We’ve loved Sørensen since Pitch Perfect 2, where she basically stole the movie in her part as the German captain of the rival A capella group. Though LLD is Sorensen’s Broadway debut, the Danish beauty is no stranger to the theater, starring opposite Tom Hiddleston in the 2014 Donmar production of Corionalus, and playing Chicago‘s Roxie Hart in London’s West End. There were too many things we wanted to plug Sorensen for, from her diet, to her beauty and skincare routine all the way to where we all should eat in Copenhagen. Read below for that as well as musings on awareness, sincerity and technology addiction from one of our favorite fresh faces on Broadway…
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
I would start with soft scrambled eggs, kale salad and very crispy bacon – and coffee. For lunch, any kind of salad would be ideal, maybe with some grilled salmon on top. For dinner, I would go for a really nice steak, some sort of vegetable, and fries. Really good, home-cooked crispy ones.
How do you practice beauty from the inside out?
I try to do some sort of exercise three to five times a week. I alternate between running intervals and doing various strengthening stuff, and yoga. About eighty percent of the time, I stay away from carbs and sugar as best I can. So no bread, pasta, rice or potatoes for everyday meals. On weekends and special occasions I enjoy whatever I want. And the key to all of it is actually ‘enjoy’. No diet you hate will ever last.
What are your morning and nightly beauty routines?
I like Dermalogica’s products. Morning and night I wash my face with Special Cleansing Gel, and for moisturizer I like Skin Smoothing Cream. I have recently discovered the makeup brand RMS Beauty, which I really love. I have delicate skin, and the “un”cover-up foundation and concealer allows it to breathe and gives it a nice, fresh look and feel. And lip2cheek in the color “modest” is perfect for my, well, lips and cheeks.
Congrats on your Broadway debut! How does American theatre differ from Copenhagen? The West End?
Thank you! It’s great to be here. The American audience is very engaged and expressive, which I love. It makes it very easy to feel them when you’re on stage. The culture of waiting at stage door for autographs is non-existing in Denmark, so that’s a big difference. I love it; it’s great to meet people and hear what they’ve taken away from the show. The language is for me also naturally a big difference; it’s an extra layer I have to go through, but I love that challenge.
Les Liaisons Dangereuses is set in the late 1700’s; what is it like to be involved in a period production?
It’s wonderfully delicious to dive into this world of enormous dresses, candle light and again, a language pretty far from our modern way of talking. I enjoy finding the balance between making it believable from that time in terms of body language and speech, but without creating a distance to a modern day audience. The themes at play here are universal and timeless – about love, fear, power, sex, desire, hope and despair.
What’s the biggest discovery you’ve made in playing your role so far?
Probably how foreign a completely guileless, pure, faithful, selfless and hopeful character is to us as modern people. First to me, then to the audience. I spent a few weeks in rehearsals working through my own initial reaction, which was to find her naive and sometimes even annoying, because she doesn’t realize the games being played with her. And then had to come to terms with the audience laughing at her quite often. Not in a mocking way, just because they know something she doesn’t. My own thought on this is, that with all the irony, sarcasm and skepticism that, I find, is a big part of our society, we have a hard time taking sincerity seriously.
What are some of your go-to workouts? Workouts you find overrated?
Because I travel quite a bit, I usually work out on my own. I try to catch a yoga class here and there. Only once did I end up in a place, that was more about breathing than anything else. Not that it was a bad thing – I had just expected more of a workout.
How do you always start your day? What’s your go to breakfast?
I meditate for 15 minutes, just after I wake up (and before I check my email, which makes it much easier to rest the mind) and then usually do some sort of exercise. Most mornings I make low-carb pancakes out of mashed banana and sweet potatoes, eggs and almond flour, and then a cup of coffee.
What is the absolute best advice you’ve ever received? The worst?
Best: “Just do it.” And I’m actually not trying to endorse Nike; my professor at drama school used this phrase. It never fails. Don’t overthink, just do it.
Worst: “You can always return it tomorrow.” That rarely works for me…I usually end up keeping whatever it is I have bought.
How do you wind down after a show?
Some nights a glass of red wine with friends, but usually a cup of tea, something to eat (celebrating getting out of the corset!) and Netflix. Right now I’m catching up with New Girl. I find the writing, the characters and the timing especially unique, weird and hilarious.
What’s your perfect smoothie comprised of? Perfect salad?
For smoothies I like some spinach covered up in banana and either peanut butter and cocoa – or almond milk. For a salad, I really like kale with pine nuts, maybe some goat cheese and roasted sweet potatoes.
Words to both act and eat by….
Enjoy. Simple as that. To a certain extent, you can decide what your experience of most situations will be like. You can – most of the time – choose to focus on what is there, instead of being sad, angry or frustrated about what’s not there.
What inspires you the most? What discourages you that you’d like to see change?
I’m always inspired by courage. People who cross borders, whether it’s their own personal struggle or on a greater scale. Right now, one of my bigger concerns is smartphones, social media and the addiction so many of us have to them. I read an article about it that really scared me. How almost every app is designed to make you addicted – really addicted, like a drug. How often we all check our phones during the day, without even noticing. How much it affects our ability to concentrate, to be present in our lives with the people actually around us. If you take a look around a subway car, it’s often a bizarre sight of a lot of people gathered in a big bubble, but completely separated, all in their own little bubble. I worry about what that does to us as human beings.
What are your favorite cities for food? What restaurants do you go to in each?
In LA, I love SQIRL for breakfast. They have the best coffee I think I’ve ever had, and a lovely soft scramble. In New York I love a lot of places on the Lower East Side, like Schiller’s Liquor Bar and Supper. And my hometown Copenhagen is doing pretty well too, food wise.
If we go to Copenhagen, where should we eat and drink?
You should definitely go to Papiroen (Paper Island), which offers a variety of great street food as well as a magnificent view. It’s right by the water and directly across from Skuespilhuset, which is the new Royal Theatre building. Especially during the summer time, there’s a great vibe here!
For finer dining I highly recommend Geranium – make your reservations well in advance and be prepared for beautiful food that challenges you at times. There’s an amazing view through the panorama windows and this year it became the first Danish restaurant to receive three Michelin Stars. And still, they manage to keep the vibe personal and warm.
Where do you love to travel? What won’t you travel without?
I don’t tend to go to the same place again and again, but I was recently in Morocco and I’d love to see more of Africa. And I’ve never really traveled in Asia; I’d really like that too. Apart from my phone (dammit) and headphones so I can listen to music, I usually don’t travel without some sort of lip balm - and gum.
What’s one item every woman should own?
A wallet containing a driver’s license, a passport and a credit card to her own bank account.
In the same vein as what is the new black in fashion, what’s the new potato right now?
I want to say “awareness”. Whether it’s in the mindfulness sense about being present in your life (did I mention I meditate?), the environmental sense about where your products come from and how they are made, or political awareness, taking an interest in how our societies are functioning. I find this is a phrase I come across quite often.
*Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, photographed at Gato in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann