During the BIFF press conference for RETURN TO MONTAUK, writer-director Volker Schlöndorff drew laughs when he recounted his pitch to Stellan. "I called him and he said, 'It won't sell lots of popcorn but it's just up my alley.'" Turning to Nina Hoss, Volker added, "You may not know this Nina, but when I asked Stellan who he could imagine in the role of Rebecca, he said, 'Nina Hoss'".
When Stellan was asked about his use of silence in the film and in his role in general, he explained, "I normally try to cut out as much of the dialogue as I can. I always tell my directors, 'Don't worry, I can express that with my eyes'".
On the look of the film, some of which was filmed on location in Montauk, NY, Volker said that while he had never worked with cinematographer Jérôme Alméras, we just seemed to like the same things: Faces and light - and no additional light. Montauk is known for the beauty of its light."
In another interview, Stellan was asked how he compared himself to both the director and his character and he said he was a very different person from them. He explained, "I know a lot of people who go back and ask what did I do wrong, why am I not happy, and so on. I am happy, so I don’t have to do that. But I know I’ve hurt people, I’ve made mistakes in my life, and make a note and I file it, and I go on. I have the same relationship to the past as I do with the future. I don’t deal with it, because I live in the present. But if you’re unhappy, you can do that. It’s a semi-philosophical but literally very beautiful thought."
He also gave his thoughts on acting - "I don’t feel comfortable playing anything. I find it extremely painful every time, but I really try to find things that I haven’t done before, and especially finding films that haven’t been made before, and this is really hard. Most of the scripts you see, you say, OK, I’ve seen that, and I’ve seen that, and I’ve seen that. They might change the clothes or the professions of the characters, but it’s the same f**king film again and again. Lars Von Trier said something interesting to me the other day. He said, “Oh Stellan, I know what kinds of films I’m doing now.” And I said, OK, so what kind is it? He told me he was doing the missing films. He wants to do the films that are missing in the history of cinema. And I think that’s really good. Modest as always!"
Berlinale today: press conference, photo call and premiere
For more photos, visit the BERLINALE GALLERY
Announcement came this week of Alexander's upcoming role in a Netflix adventure thriller called HOLD THE DARK, directed by Jeremy Saulnier. The cast includes Jeffrey Wright, James Badge Dale, Riley Keough and James Bloor. Based on the book by William Giraldi, the story is set in a remote Alaskan wilderness in which wolves have taken and killed children. A wolf-expert biologist is called in to investigate, but finds himself in between a secret-harboring mother who disappears and her husband who goes on a maniacal spree when he returns from Iraq and learns of his son's death. Jeffrey will play the biologist with James in the role of the detective. Riley and Alexander will play the parents. Filming will begin next month in Alberta, Canada.
Alexander is also slated to star in the $14M renaissance action film THE DWARF. Brad Anderson will direct from a screenplay based on Par Lagerkvist's novel of the same name. The action takes place during the 14th century. Can you guess who plays the dwarf? Yes! Who else! Peter Dinklage. He will play a fearless man who proves his mettle and earns the trust of a prince (Skarsgard) after he conquers an all-time wrestling champion in a contest. He then pledges his undying loyalty and resorts to assassinations and subterfuge in his merciless quest to protect his new master. Alexander is presently starring in the current HBO crime drama "Big Little Lies".
It was 35 years ago that Stellan won the Silver Bear for Best Actor for "The Simple-Minded Murderer" at the Berlin International Film Festival. What a wonderful way to start a film career!
On Wednesday Stellan returns to Berlin for the premiere of his latest film, RETURN TO MONTAUK. Commenting on the director of the romantic drama, he says, "I have liked Schlöndorff since the 70's. He's a very talented man... I've wanted to work with him for a long time, and then this wonderful story came along."
Stellan says he had to learn an unusual amount of dialogue. He says, "My motto for choosing roles is I'd rather have as little text as possible, but here I gladly broke my own principles. It was fun to work with such material. It's a very literary text and it was a lot to learn. The script is based on a book by Max Frisch and he's a wonderful writer."
Describing the film, he says, "The story says something about how we experience life. I have many friends who are writers, and I see how they use their subjects to portray the world in their own way. Authors have the advantage that they can create stories beyond time and space while they do not need to lose touch with the real world. My character is part of a love story in which he has created an image of the relationship the two had that has grown in his imagination."
Filming locations included the title place - Montauk - at the tip of Long Island. Stellan says, "We were there just before the tourist season started, so there were not so many people. It is reminiscent of Skagen with a magic light, surrounded by the sea and long sandy beaches and seafood."
As far as future projects, he says he's been reading scripts. He's thinking of two TV series in the US and two feature films, but nothing has been done about them yet. Terry Gilliam's "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" was supposed to have gone into production in October but had to be canceled when one of the financiers fell away. Stellan is still waiting word to hear if filming will begin next month.
The English-language film was partially shot on
location in Montauk, Amagansett and New York last spring, while interior
scenes were filmed in Berlin. Director Volker Schlöndorff,
who summers in Amagansett, co-wrote the screenplay with Irish author
Colm Tóibín. The story takes
its inspiration from Swiss writer Max Frisch’s novella
but the author and the screenwriters agreed that it
would be too difficult to translate to film because it was too
autiobiographical and essayistic. Schlöndorff
and Tóibín decided to use it as a model to
tell their own story.
Though the screenplay diverges so much from the book, the setting was never subject to change. "Absolutely not," Schlöndorff said. "The main inspiration we retained from Max Frisch was this somewhat legendary 'Montauk,' a place or a name quite well known in Europe through this book, published in 1974 when Montauk was not yet as popular … more a poetical metaphor for a place at land’s end." The director has ambitions of bringing the film to the Hamptons International Film Festival, held annually in October.
There's a behind-the scenes video that you can access on youtube.com at this link. It's in black and white and runs about 16 minutes. Unfortunately, much of it is in German, but I think Stellan fans will love it.
It has been announced that RETURN TO MONTAUK will screen in Competition at the 67th International Berlin Film Festival (Berlinale) in what will also be a world premiere for the Volker Schloendorff-directed film. The festival, which runs from February 9–19, is one of the most important dates for the international film industry. The film centers on writer Max Zorn (Skarsgård), who comes to New York for the release of his book. His young wife Clara (Susanne Wolff) goes ahead to work on the U.S. release. In his novel, Max writes about the failure of love in this city 17 years ago. Almost by chance he meets Rebecca (Nina Hoss). She is now a successful lawyer, originally from East Germany and in New York for 20 years. They decide to spend a weekend together in Montauk, a fishing port on Long Island.
Stellan has won both a Guldbaggen and Silver Bear but now he has a new award added to his CV. He has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the Faculty of Arts at the University of Lund. He gets the title because he "has a deeply reflective and thoughtful approach to his work as an actor and to his place in film production, and he personifies in an outstanding way the international character that has permeated and still characterizes the art of film and film work, both the practical and scientific."
Martin Degrell, communicator at Lund University, said Stellan was very happy and very honored and has agreed to participate in the conferment ceremony on June 2. Degrell added that it was gratifying that Stellan would attend since he's a very busy person.