Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut with a fantastic cast: Olivia Colman is the protagonist, Leda, along with Dakota Johnson, Peter Sarsgaard and Alba Rohrwacher
Vogue Italia– For her directorial debut – intense and intimate – Maggie Gyllenhaal chose “The Lost Daughter”, based on the novel “La figlia oscura” by Elena Ferrante, dazzled by the author of “L’amica genial”. Shown for the first time at the 78th Venice Film Festival (1-11 of September) and coming soon to Italian cinemas and on Netflix, the film puts together a stellar female cast of great value.
The protagonist, Leda, is played by Oscar winner Olivia Colman (in the present) and by the talented Jessie Buckley (in the past). At the beginning of the story, Leda, a British professor is on a vacation in Greece, where she rents a villa by the sea that seems to give her the tranquillity that she’s looking for. When a group of noisy neighbours arrives at the beach, the atmosphere changes: Nina (Dakota Johnson) has a young and restless daughter, whose sight fills Leda with tenderness, but also with sorrow. Leda has two adult daughters and she sees herself in the young mum, but something changes, starting a series of an unexpected chain of reactions. The Irish student Will, played by Paul Mescal (protagonist of the famous series Normal People), manages the beach resort, while Peter Sarsgaard is professor Hardy, an academic who profoundly changed Leda’s public and personal life.
Olivia Colman Speaks
Maggie Gyllenhaal said that Elena Ferrante granted her the rights of adaptation [the novel into a movie] on two conditions, one was that she did not paint Leda as crazy because that would have triggered a surge of superiority and lack of empathy on the part of the public. What do you think about it?
Olivia Colman: In reality, everyone thinks that they are some type of person, but then it turns out to be different. Leda does horrible things but in a different way than usual, which immediately intrigued me in right way. I like experimenting. And I’m happy that she is not considered as crazy because she’s only a woman whom life has reserved very complex situations
Is it difficult to share the same with someone else?
OC: Jessie and I are friends and have known each other for a long time, so we exchanged various messages, but Maggie reassured me beforehand. She didn’t want me to fixate on how to coordinate our performances and she gave me carte blanche, which was liberating. Our days of shooting overlapped only for a few days, but it was cool.
The director said that she couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw that you had accepted the role. What convinced you to do it?
OC: I respect and admire Maggie very much and would like to be as multifaced as she is. I will never direct in my life, there are too many things to keep under control, while she has the situation in hand at all times. So when she’s offered me the part, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be good enough for it. It took me a few glasses to find the courage to say yes.
The writer is Italian, the director is American and the protagonist is British. How do you understand each other?
OC: For me, this is an added value, because Maggie is so direct. I remember one day when we were on set with the costume designer, who is also British: we’d been talking for about twenty minutes about a certain hat that I didn’t like, but I was trying to handle the situation diplomatically. We couldn’t reach an agreement and as soon as she noticed it, she said “Take off that fucking hat”. We both speak English, but it was as if they were different languages, but she solved the problem in a second.
So Maggie convinced Elena…
How did you obtain the rights for the movie?
Maggie Gyllenhaal: I fell completely in love with the book, to the point that I wrote Elena Ferrante a long and passionate letter. She told me that she wouldn’t give me the rights unless I directed the movie, and so I gave it a go. I never met Elena Ferrante, but we wrote to each other a lot and I treasure those words because they’re very precious to me.
At first, your wife didn’t want to give you the part of a man involved in a relationship with a young and beautiful woman. Are you happy that she changed her mind?
Peter Sarsgaard: To me, it was an enormous pleasure to see my wife show all her talent and potential. I won’t add anything else, because I might start crying. See, now people know that she isn’t just an incredible actress, but she also has a keen eye for the unconventional truth. She always manages to inspire me.
How were you convinced to join the project?
Dakota Johnson: Maggie and I met for lunch in New York, before that we’d seen each other only once at a party, very briefly. The truth is that I’d always been in love with her work and this time she caught me off guard with the role that she asked me to play. She made me feel safe, even if her request scared me a lot. This is a collaboration that will stay with me forever.
Alba Rohrwacher: I was on set only for a couple of days for my cameo, but those were the happiest moments from last year.
One last curiosity: do you know who Elena Ferrante is?
Maggie: I don’t, unfortunately. I’ve never met her, but we wrote to each other a lot and I treasure those words because they’re very precious to me.
Don’t forget to check our gallery for the pics from The Lost Daughter and Venice78