"A climate of extreme surprise"
by Domenico La Porta
- The famous French actress tells of her dive into the universe of Filipino filmmaker Brillante Mendoza.
French star Isabelle Huppert did not hesitate when she was asked to take part in a film being shot in the Philippines by the talented Brillante Mendoza. The fruit of this successful collaboration is Captive [+see also:
interview: Brillante Mendoza
interview: Isabelle Huppert
film profile], screened at the 62nd Berlinale. The actress here describes the experience to the international press.
Preparing for the role
Isabelle Huppert: "As actors, we didn't meet any of the people who had been in the same situation as the film's characters. We were free in our interpretations. There wasn't a lot of preparation for this role, as I don't think you have to prepare for a moment so unexpected, as surprise is an integral part of the choc that the film seeks to portray. Mendoza has the talent to capture this moment. The less you prepare yourself, the better it is for this type of film, and this is actually one of its main strengths. How do you create chaos yet control it at the same time, while plunging the actors into a climate of extreme surprise? Here lies Mendoza's talent. We never knew what to expect. The actors had not met each other before. There was a script, but Brillante didn't really follow it. Everything was unexpected. It was, in the end, a situation very close to reality."
"When something is not comfortable for the audience, it is usually more comfortable for the actor who can invest himself completely into something extreme. I did no choose the role suggested by Brillante Mendoza, but I chose Brillante Mendoza and his universe. Perhaps the most difficult thing for me as an actress with this role was to be part of a group, rather than to merely perform and risk outdoing the rest of the group and break its balance. We were sometimes in very dangerous situations. I didn't have the impression that I was in a fiction film, but in a reality, and we felt obliged to act in consequence, to react in consequence. It was not about creating a role but about living in a moment as it presents itself to you in a certain context that is very real."
"I don't have different acting methods, whatever my films, but I am directed by different directors and you have to give in to their direction. In the film, there are professional actors and others who are not actors like Katherine Mulville. This is very interesting, because professional actors try not to be professional, while the non-actors do the opposite."
"When I act, I don't think too much, not before, during, or even after the shooting. Perhaps this is the secret. I just do it. I think that I never see my roles as characters, but as a succession of states: hunger, irritation, tiredness. I don't think in terms of roles, but in terms of emotions as it's less abstract for me. They are states of mind that I can understand."
"Shooting with Brillante Mendoza was quite a new experience for me. He starts from reality and goes beyond what is expected of a shoot with more constructed dramatisation. Of course, the technique has to follow this intention. Everything goes very fast, the camera is less intrusive, the time between the takes in shorter. It's another way of living a shoot, almost forgetting that it is a shoot, even if you are surrounded by all that is technically needed to make a film."