Behind the scenes of ‘The Father’: Stars reveal their ‘joyful experience’ shooting the Oscar-nominated film


DUBAI: How is a masterpiece created? There is a pervasive notion that great art is only born through struggle. In order to film the most harrowing, emotional scenes, to capture true human suffering, some think the performers themselves must suffer as well. Worst of all, some believe that great artists have the right to be cruel to those they work with if doing so is seen as an appreciation of art.

The Father, which was recently nominated for six Oscars including best picture and is now showing in GCC theaters, completely dispels that notion. The film, written and directed by Florian Zeller, is a heartbreaking, heartbreaking masterpiece that was indeed made by some of the happiest performers to ever grace the screen.

Olivia Colman, who is nominated for Best Supporting Actress across from Best Actor nominee Anthony Hopkins, has no patience with the idea that she can’t shoot every set she steps on, from Broadchurch to The Crown to The Favourite” – everything for which she has received the highest accolades – to a place of warmth, love and laughter.

“I’ll discuss this until the cows come home with anyone who thinks you must have an obnoxious director and a toxic environment. It’s utter nonsense. Florian wrote this beautiful script and he was the gentlest and most intelligent leader of this ship,” Colman told Arab News.

“We felt like he could do anything. And everyone wanted to do what was right for them, you know? Because he was so beautiful. When you get someone who is an idiot, you don’t want to do nice things; They don’t want to do a good job for them,” Colman continues.

Hopkins, who just became the oldest man ever to be nominated for a best actor at 83, has entered a new phase in his career in recent years and has blossomed into something of a social media star. The image of horrific serial killer Hannibal Lecter, his most famous role, has been replaced by an aging painter posting videos of himself hugging his cat Niblo and dancing for his 2.7 million Instagram followers.

Actor Rufus Sewell also stars in the film. (included)

On set, Hopkins and Colman shared an instant connection, with Hopkins always being the loudest in responding to Colman’s many jokes when the cameras weren’t rolling.

“It’s really too easy. He’s so ready and ready to laugh. You know, the slightest joke or the grin! He loves life. He loves being alive. He loves to work. He’s ready for a laugh, you know? He’s the happiest man you could ever meet,” says Colman.

In turn, Hopkins entertained Colman with some of his best impressions (“Jimmy Stewart was one of my favorites,” says Colman), often interrupting them with the second cut, Zeller roaring.

However, Colman knows her comedic limitations and left the impressions of her longtime colleague.

“I’m a bad imprint. I can not. Terrible,” says Colman.

Long before Colman and Hopkins were involved, The Father began in 2012 as a critically acclaimed French play written by Paris-born Zeller and gained worldwide attention when it debuted in 2014 at the Ustinov Studio of the Theater Royal in Bath, England. before moving to London’s West End. In 2016, the play ran on Broadway, starring Frank Langella, for which he won a Tony Award. The work was voted one of the best pieces of the last decade.

The story follows a man struggling with the effects of dementia and daughter who finds it increasingly difficult to care for him while managing her own life. It starts out darkly funny before quickly becoming terrifying as the film draws the viewer into the titular’s perspective and makes his fear, confusion and temporal detachment seem eerily real.


Imogen Poots plays the role of a caregiver. (included)

When translating into a film, Zeller changed the main character’s name from André to Anthony. The move wasn’t a fluke – Hopkins was his first choice to take on the role. His wish came true, and with Oscar winner Colman as his daughter by his side, he made his dream come true.

“It was the most intense and enjoyable experience. And I’m so thankful because it happened to the most talented people. I think it was actually the happiest experience of my entire life,” says Zeller.

Zeller directed The Father for the first time, though Colman says one would never know, as Zeller knew exactly what he wanted at all times and directed the feature with focus and care.

“It’s just a mixture of instinct and a desire to tell a story. We felt it needed to be told and you just try. You never know; It is a journey with many doubts. But the conviction must be higher than the doubts,” says Zeller.

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