Saturday, December 11, 2010

German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck talks about The Tourist

2007 Oscar Winner for Best Foreign Film director German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck tries his luck in Hollywood as the director of Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp’s The Tourist. The Tourist is a thriller movie which is now showing in the US, and on January 2011 here in the Philippines. The film is distributed by Columbia Pictures.

The Tourist was a remake of 2005 French movie entitled Anthony Zimmer directed by Jérôme Salle. The US version follows the Frank (Depp), an American tourist visiting Venice, Italy and Elise (Jolie) who crosses path during the time when they are trying to mend their broken hearts. But things became complicated between the two of them, when Elise’s real intention in crossing Frank path is to mislead the followers of his ex-lover, a most wanted criminal. Frank became involved on this incident, fighting for his life and Elise’s.

Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck shares his experience working with Depp and Jolie and his first Hollywood movie:

Q: How would you describe “The Tourist”?
FHD: The film is many things at the same time. It’s a suspense thriller. And it’s hopefully as intriguing and fun as are Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp in everyday life.

Q: How did the film come about for you?
FHD: I had just finished a script for a dark international thriller that I’d been writing for a year and a half, when Angelina called me and said, “Look, there’s this project that I’m thinking about and I’d really think about it if you’d consider doing it.” I looked at it. It definitely had the potential to be a sexy, fun, sweeping movie. As a fan of Angelina’s, I also felt that she was one of those rare women who had the explosive power of a Rita Hayworth or a Grace Kelly, but that she’s never really had a part where she could show it all - that extremely feminine, elegant side. She’s played tough action figures in “Salt” and “Lara Croft.” And she’s played challenging drama like “Changeling” and “A Mighty Heart.” But she’s never had a part where she was just allowed to be as glorious as she is... I guess I saw a chance to really present her in that way. And to present audiences with Angelina the way I’ve always thought of her.

Q: How did you proceed?
FHD: Well, we still needed an ideal costar… It’s tough to find a costar for Angelina, because she has so much going for her, and I didn’t want Frank’s character to look to weak by comparison. We needed someone who was a great actor, but who was also charming, funny, sexy and smart. When we put all that together, we realized we needed Johnny Depp. Our producer Graham King arranged a meeting between Johnny and me in Johnny’s office, we had a great conversation and he loved the idea of doing this with us.

Q: What was it like making your first Hollywood film?
FHD: With the crew and those fantastic actors, it was a real joy. They were so game to try out something new and so it was just a fantastic exchange, a really great experience.

Q: You decided to actually film in Venice, a tricky proposition I would imagine for a film of this scale, or indeed any scale…
FHD: It’s rare for a movie to shoot entirely in Venice – the normal way to do it would be 3 weeks in Venice for the exteriors and all the rest shot in studio. But since Johnny had a hard out date and had to leave for Pirates of the Caribbean, we wouldn’t have had time to build the Veniceinteriors in a studio. So for practical reasons, we had to do the unheard of thing…we had to shoot the entire picture in Venice, for which I’m thankful. It seemed an almost crazy thing for a producer and a studio to allow. But we had a real reason to do it… I hope that you’ll be able to feel, when you see the film, that it has that special quality, that Venice itself is also a character in the movie.

Q: Was it a conscious decision to follow up “The Lives of Others” with something so different?
FHD: Yes, it certainly was. I had actually just finished writing a screenplay which was, again, a kind of international dark, political thriller, maybe a little bit in the vein of “The Lives of Others.” And then just as I was about to start setting it up, “The Tourist” came along. I thought to myself, if I make this dark film now, I’m going to be that guy, forever. I’ll be the guy who does dark political thrillers. And I do want to explore other things too. Maybe it will be great to do the exact opposite and go for something very colorful, elegant and beautiful.

Q: How has your life changed since winning an Oscar?
An opportunity like The Tourist would probably have never come along without the Oscar. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is for the viewer to decide.

The Tourist also stars Paul Bettany, Rufus Sewell, Timothy Dalton, Haley Webb. Showing on January 2011 and distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International. Visit for trailers, exclusive content and free downloads. Like us at join our fan contests.

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