Venice Film Festival 2014: Interview with Adam Driver and Alba Rohrwacher for Hungry Hearts
We interviewed the winners of Coppa Volpi – best actor and actress – at the Venice Film Festival 2014. Adam Driver and Alba Rohrwacher co-star in Saverio Costanzo’s horror-romance Hungry Hearts.
You jumped in ten days before the beginning of the shoot; how did you prepare in such a short time?
Adam Driver: That was a really good thing about working on this: no one really had to think and rethink and obsess about details because of the time restraint. Running out of time became an issue, so impulses and first takes were important. When you’re there at 6/7am you don’t really get the chance to leave the world you’re creating – it’s a process.
In one of the opening scenes, you sing in Italian.
AD: That was the scariest part: not only singing, but in Italian. I had this weird dialect, Naples…ish.
You two are playing a couple; did you develop that together beforehand? And are you really vegetarians?
AD: Oh no, I’m very meat-eating. We just have a similar way of working. Immediately, it wasn’t difficult to feel like we’d found a nice rhythm as soon as we met. We were lucky. Saverio [Costanzo] was operating the camera so there were three of us in the room – it felt very private. We were free to fail, no one felt embarrassed by anything. Alba is a true actor, so emotionally available. It makes it easy when someone’s that good. Finding someone who will go to the bottom with you makes you want to go as deep as possible.
Was it difficult to get it right with the baby on set?
AD: All the time. Babies don’t care about your schedules, they need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the scene. It keeps you so out of your head because it’s so unpredictable – it forces you to be completely present; you don’t think about acting, it’s all about the baby!
Did it feel familiar working with a baby?
AD: No, not really! A little here and there, but by the end it was like: give me that thing. I’ll breastfeed, it’s fine. At the end of the shoot it was quite a thing to let them go.
Alba Rohrwacher: It’s our child. (Laughing)
AD: For a couple of months we thought we were his parents, it was weird.
You’re playing a character, yes, but are you such a polite person in real life?
AD: There’s so much love there that lasts for such a long time. He’s so polite, but you want him to act sooner because it seems so obvious. You couldn’t imagine a worse scenario in which to meet someone, but there’s something carnal that I think is denied for a long time. You just can’t believe someone would do something so obviously harmful to someone who meant so much to them, which is why I think it takes him so long to act.
What If is playing all over Europe now, and Girls is everywhere. What has this meant for you?
AD: Working on Girls has brought up a lot of opportunities for me and I love that. It’s a dream job – the people, the actors and crew were so familial. At first, it felt like something we were creating in a friend’s basement. We forgot that people actually saw it, which is a very jarring thing to suddenly realise.
How did working on Girls help you in this part, as in the fact that you’re in a love/hate relationship? In Hungry Hearts you don’t leave a relationship that most people would.
AD: Those are two different things. I mean I guess you take everything with you from one job to the next. But I didn’t think about my previous job, working on this.
Why did you decide to take this on in the first place? You were working bigger projects and this is on a much smaller scale.
AD: Scale doesn’t matter to me. Alba, Saverio and the story are what attracted me. If it’s an exciting character with exciting people and it seems challenging and interesting, that’s enough reason for me. The writing was so good, and how often do you get to play characters like these?
Have you seen Saverios’ previous movies? What do you think of them?
AD: Terrible. (Laughing). I saw Solitude and Prime Number beforehand, and now I need a Saverio break after working with him! No, they were beautiful, very unpredictable. His films are so complex and emotionally available, and I’m just fascinated by that.
I like how unprecious this was. There’s something about the way we shot this movie that was very impromptu. Because Saverio was always operating the camera, there was always the potential for things to go wrong… in a good way. You had to just be there, and focused.
Alba, how was your experience filming in New York with Adam?
AR: It was an adventure: very deep, funny and desperate – in a good way!
Playing a character that develops serious issues after the birth of her baby, how did you get close to her?
AR: I believe her and trust her. And that’s the way I can stay with her from the beginning to the end. I just had to stay with her, even if she made a lot of mistakes. Maybe she was right, maybe… We don’t know, but we don’t judge.
With each character we did the same thing: it’s very open, you know? It doesn’t say who is right or wrong. This is the story, it now belongs to you; what do you think about it?
Where did you find affinity with your characters and what did you struggle with?
AD: We don’t always know what they feel. I don’t even know in life what I feel. I’m often confused by the way I act, or my inaction; I don’t think it’s something you need to understand before you go in to it. Sometimes I feel like I have the answers, sometimes not, and the script then tells me something that I have to make sense of, even if there’s no answer.
At a basic level, it seems like it’s two pitbulls fighting over a baby. At a certain point modesty goes away, love goes away. It’s not entirely clear; it’s hard thing to work out how to feel about something two people made together, and how to separate that. Ultimately the script told us what to do.
AR: The book was a suggestion, a shadow, but the focus was on the script.
It all starts with a funny and weirdly romantic meeting scene. Did you have fun making it?
AR: It was very hard! It was ten minutes!
AD: How long is it?
AR: 8 minutes, without cuts.
AD: We did that two times? We shot it last! We thought it would be easy as it seems lighter than the rest of it, but it was actually really difficult – not just technically, but… I don’t even know why.
AR: Everything was fake – the soundstage, the bathroom – and it was tough to build up the tension. It was a lot.
Adam, you’ve come straight from the set of Star Wars. Is it a dream?
AD: Oh sure! It’s not even something you dream about, though, because it doesn’t seem possible to get the chance to be involved. It’s pretty exciting, you could say otherworldly.
Did you jump at the chance?
AD: I was interested in it immediately, but it wasn’t without thought. You don’t want to let people down, so I had to think about it
Did it change your life? All of a sudden everyone is interested.
AD: Yes, it changes everything. JJ starts with stories and characters, and that’s what makes the originals effective and exciting, and makes it last. There are these universal themes of someone wanting to be bigger than themselves, which has always been part of it since the very beginning. So even though something like Hungry Hearts is so very different, on a human level it’s all the same. It all comes down to regret, or not being loved enough or missing your friends. In a way it all comes down to a series of moments; it’s not about production scale.
Final question: how was meeting Scorsese?
AD: Surreal. He is at the top of the pyramid. Filmmakers grew up watching his movies, and to talk with him and work with him, as you can imagine, is so exciting. You just jump at it. Or skip steps.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor