Interview with Alejandro Agresti
(Translated from Spanish by Ale, translation edited by Anakin McFly)
In Hollywood, the Argentinean director confirmed that the filming of "Il Mare" was about to start with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock
by Pablo O. Scholz
70 million dollars, Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in the main roles, and music by Prince composed especially for the film, a Warner Bros production. What more could Alejandro Agresti ask for?
"I'm living a dream", the director of Valentin said in Los Angeles, during a break from rehearsals with the Matrix star. "We've been in pre-production for "Il Mare" for two weeks now, and we are going to film it in Chicago." This is the reason why he is traveling from one city to another, rehearsing with Reeves and Bullock in Hollywood and supervising the design production in Chicago. "The movie is based on a Korean production, Siworae, and deals with the themes of time and space. I changed some things, and now we are working together with David Auburn, Pulitzer Prize Winner, who co-signed the script.
Reeves will be an architect and Bullock a doctor, although "in the original movie she was a movie voice artist and he was in another thing, so now it's different", says Agresti. The ambience is different, it's so much more worked, him (Reeves) being a very famous architect, like Frank Lloyd Wright. "Visually, it has much to do with Chicago. It is a wonderful city."
The plot has the characters living in the same house two years apart, and for a strange reason "they share its mailbox." In the beginning, she leaves the house - "a very peculiar one, that we constructed on a lake. Suddenly he finds the letter, dated 2005, when he is in 2003. First they think it's a game, and every day they leave a letter for each other, day after day, but as time passes, what seems illogical has it's own logic: you discover that they met once."
The idea to reunite the Speed stars eleven years later was not deliberate. "No. I was meeting different actors. Bullock wanted to meet me two months ago in New York, and accepted. And once I had Sandy, I met many actors until the day I met Keanu. He is such a fan of 'Valentin' and saw 'Un mundo menos peor'; both of them liked the way I direct, and so then I said to the studio: 'I'll have both'. That they were both in Speed was a coincidence. In the beginning Warner was worried about whether or not it was a good step. It is not a comedy," - he clarifies - "it's a romantic drama. One gives it a touch of life and humor, but they are not comedy roles."
Has the rest of the cast been determined?
The only ones confirmed so far are the both of them (Sandra and Keanu). Another role will be going to Jeremy Irons, as Keanu's father, and there are three other actors, whom we are deciding on.
The technical crew is a must. We have the director of photography David Tattersal (who worked on the three episodes of Star Wars), the production designer Nathan Crowley (from Batman Begins), the producer Doug Davison (of Dark Water, the new Walter Salles movie). There will not be Argentineans in the film. "It will be filmed in twelve weeks, beginning March 14 at Maple Lake, 25 minutes from the center of Chicago. The predicted opening date is the first trimester of 2006. I'll be finishing on the 10 or 11 of June, and the editing will be done with Kevin Tent, who will be working with Alexander Payne (Sideways) in the Chicago editing offices while I film, and when we finish the run through we will be transferred to a farm near San Francisco, property of George Lucas", he says.
The work rhythm, he says, is "maddening, with the equipment we have. It is a very original film; you can say that to everybody. It is very rare that a big studio turns it into one of its super productions. I have an enormous privilege, the power to work with so much freedom, which is what the studio is giving to me. This is industrial cinema, but very good cinema is being made here," he promises. Agresti comments that he has a great contract "with Warner Bros. to produce and to direct my own films, like Alfonso Cuaron (last Harry Potter) signed with Warner". Agresti had already told Clarin that he was friends with Alexander Payne. "I really like him very much, but he does not work for Warner. Someone who has his own production within Warner, and whom I have the fortune of being able to relate to him, is Clint Eastwood. And a month ago I had the luck to sit and watch with him the premiere of Million Dollar Baby", he says on the possible Oscar candidate.
He continues dreaming wide-awake. "After so many films, I believe that in the last years Hollywood offered things to me and I took them as I could. Here many directors were immigrants, from William Wyler to Billy Wilder. It is not easy to come and make anything. The dream is to be able to count for something, with the equipment and to make good cinema, good stories. I hope to be able to do that."
Agresti says that he does not have the time 'to feel strange'. "Yes, sometimes I think how beautiful it would be to be able to share all this with my friends, but I always have my friends in mind and imagine them seeing the movie. Your work is not done only for you. You do it for the ones you love. "