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Paolo Sorrentino & Sean Penn • Director/Actor

Europe and the US united in talent

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- The Italian director and the US star joined their talents to make This Must Be The Place

Paolo Sorrentino & Sean Penn • Director/Actor

Excerpts of the packed press conference with Italian director Paolo Sorrentino and Sean Penn at the Cannes Film Festival, where their film This Must Be the Place [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Paolo Sorrentino
film profile
]
was presented in Competition.

Rumour has it that This Must Be the Place came about from your meeting at Cannes in 2008.
Sean Penn: Essentially, we met the evening after the awards ceremony. During the photo call with the jury and winners, I told Paolo: whenever, wherever you want with your next script. A year later, he called me and sent me this wonderful screenplay. I immediately said yes.

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How did you get the idea for the film?
Paolo Sorrentino: First of all from a story about a Nazi criminal that whet my curiosity. Then, I wanted to create a character who’s 50, who’s still a child and who was a rock star. The film is the coming together of these two ideas.

Is Cheyenne, the pop star in This Must Be the Place, a caricature like the main character of Il Divo [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Nicola Giuliano
interview: Paolo Sorrentino
interview: Philippe Desandre
film profile
]
?

Paolo Sorrentino: I don’t think there are many connections between the two films, at least not in terms of caricature. Both [characters] are unusual, but real, people. Cheyenne could easily exist and many rock stars look like him. What interests me about films is the possibility of speaking about characters who are somehow exceptional.

How did you create the character of Cheyenne?
Sean Penn: Paolo and I talked a lot time about the differences tied to depression and in particular its impact on the body. Paolo had very clear visual ideas about the character. It’s a pleasure to work with a director like him, because he was a vision. I think he’s one of the greatest directors of our era and he’ll be creating in a very original way for a long time. As a director, he’s very inspiring to an actor.

Who do you two think incarnates rock’n’roll today?
Sean Penn: Rock is a kind of sickness in a society based on education. The story in the film is an attempt to come out of depression, which rock has always been.

Why did you co-write a screenplay for the first time?
Paolo Sorrentino: I’ve known Umberto Contarello for some time and this film was the perfect opprtunity to work together, plus we both love the United States and travelling.

How did you work on the film’s sublime photography?
Paolo Sorrentino: In the United States, the centre of the film world, it was extremely easy to photograph the spaces. It was fascinating to shoot in a new world, also because cinema can be boring at times. For me, making this film was a like making a first film.

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