TIFF 2011: Toronto International Film Festival

Saturday | April 19, 2014

'Twice Born' cast have TIFF love-in


Director Sergio Castellitto and actress PenÚlope Cruz speak onstage at the "Twice Born" Press Conference during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 13, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Jemal Countess/AFP)

Italian actor-filmmaker Sergio Castellitto loves finding two qualities in each of the star actors he casts in his own films. That held true for casting Spanish superstar Penelope Cruz and American actor Emile Hirsch in Twice Born, his Toronto filmfest entry.

In the case of Cruz, he had already worked with her in his 2004 film, Don't Move. Castellitto told a Thursday press conference: "Working with Penelope, I had two of the most thrilling experiences of my life and in my career as a filmmaker. I'm looking for two qualities in an actor -- qualities that Penelope has -- which is ambition and humility." Cruz will also takes risks, he said. "She, like the actors I admire the most, is not afraid of looking ridiculous."

As for Hirsch, "He has two qualities that I admire immensely: sensuality mixed and commingled with his shyness. And his shyness confers a great wonder to his sensuality."

With that attitude, it is a veritable love-in at TIFF for the Twice Born cast & crew. Hirsch grinned and Cruz said she fondly remembered working with Castellitto on Don't Move, describing it as "one of the most intense experiences I've had working as an actress."

That was repeated on Twice Born, in which she plays an Italian woman returning to Sarajevo 18 years after she spent time there during the siege. Hirsch plays the American news photographer with whom she had an affair. A child is involved (and played by Pietro Castellitto, son of the director and his novelist wife, Margaret Mazzantini, who created Twice Born).

Cruz plays between 60 and 70 percent of the movie in Italian-accented English and the rest in Italian. "I love those challenges," Cruz said Thursday, "but I cannot say it was easy."

Cruz is currently juggling three major film projects. She is obviously representing Twice Born, a European co-production shot in Italy and two countries of the former Yugoslavia. She just finished shooting a Spanish film with her friend Pedro Almodovar. She will soon shoot Ridley Scott's Hollywood thriller, The Counsellor, with Brad Pitt.

"For me," Cruz said, "that's another thing that I love about this profession -- to be able to work in different countries and to work in different languages. And being on a set like this one (for Twice Born), where we had seven languages every day going on the set, it was crazy but it was beautiful. I love being part of projects like this."

Cruz, a new mother and married to actor Javier Bardem, does like returning to the Spanish cinema. "I want to keep working in my country. I want to keep working in Spanish. I will never stop doing that. It is also very refreshing sometimes to go back and work in my own language."

Meanwhile, Cruz said, her English is getting better. And she loves doing accents. "Now that I'm comfortable in the English language I would love to play a British accent. I also would love to play a Valley girl!" Like totally wow, Penelope.

bruce.kirkland@sunmedia.ca

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