Interviews

Castellitto and Favino are King Miraz and Gen. Glozelle

Source: Edward Douglas
October 19, 2007

Apparently, Italians aren't just the bad guys in World Cup Soccer (sorry, Italy!), but they play the antagonists of the "Chronicles of Narnia" sequel. The villain in the first "Narnia" film was Tilda Swinton's White Witch, but in Prince Caspian, it's King Miraz, the evil uncle of the title character, played by Sergio Castellitto (pictured left), best known in the States as the romantic lead in the German movie Mostly Martha (which was recently remade as No Reservations with Aaron Eckhart in Sergio's role). Another Italian actor, Pierfrancesco Favino (pictured below, right) plays Miraz's right hand man, General Glozelle, and though the name might not be familiar, he starred in one of the biggest non-Disney family movies of 2006, Night at the Museum. He played Christopher Columbus.

On the second day of our set visit to the Usti location just outside Prague, ComingSoon.net and a group of journalists sat down with the two Italians, jovial long-time friends who seemed to be having way too much fun to be playing bad guys.

ComingSoon.net: Earlier, we saw all the costumes and gear that you wear in the movie, and we got to feel the weight of it. Does it help your performance to get into costume and feel that weight?
Sergio Castellitto: Oh yes, absolutely. It's totally different from my experience, and for me, it's an absolutely new experience. It will be very interesting because acting is both athletic and psychological, too. I have a lot of admiration for Andrew Adamson because he's very careful about psychological relationships between the characters. It's totally different than I could imagine about a movie like this, but at the same time, it's really interesting to act out a stereotype. This is the first time in my life I have played a bad character. It's really interesting, because after a lot of movies, this is the first time I have played a villain, so I have to fight myself with the stereotype I had in mind. Really interesting.

CS: Were you familiar with the books or your character at all before you got this role?
Castellitto: No, not so well, no, but I have four kids. They knew the first "Narnia" very well.
Pierfrancesco Favino: For us in Italy, it's not the same like in the U.S. or in England. We don't have that saga as you have, so for us, Pinocchio is our one. There's nothing comparable to this.
Castellitto: But my kids knew it very well, and when I told them that I could act in the second "Narnia," they had a lot of admiration for me.

CS: Were you surprised by how much they fleshed out your role for the movie?
Castellitto: I think it's a good idea. (laughter)

CS: How did Andrew talk to you about the character? Did he give you very specific things he wanted to see or did he just let you play it broadly?
Castellitto: We speak about the character in a psychological way. Like I said before, this is the very interesting side of this work, because I thought that everything was just an imaginary stereotype, but at the same time, we spoke about the character like a human being. There is a very interesting side of my character that is the fight between youngness and oldness, so the good and evil is like youngness and oldness. It's very interesting this.

CS: Did you both have to do a lot of sword practice?
Favino: (nods) Especially him, and a lot of horse riding.
Castellitto: A lot of practice. Horse riding and fighting, but we have an extraordinary trainer, Allan. Very, very good. This is my first… {shows a cut on his knuckle}

CS: Is this your first English language film?
Castellitto: No, I shot "The Big Blue" with Luc Besson, and a TV movie directed by Jim McBride with Peter Falk ten years ago, but I haven't practiced in a long time. We (him Favino) acted together, in English, in an Italian movie about the life of Enzo Ferrari.

CS: Did you have the script translated into Italian so you can learn your lines?
Castellitto: Yes, in the beginning, that was very important to me to understand the meaning and psychological meaning, but we also studied about accents. I think Andrew wanted a Mediterranean accent: Spanish, Italian, Greek, North-African, French…a Telmarine's accent. It's quite easy for me to do a good accent.
Favino: We're mixing up a few roots.

CS: A lot of actors, when they're playing villains, they don't see their characters as villains. They try to see them as having their motivations for what they do. Does that figure into your performance?
Castellitto: Absolutely. The first work of an actor is to defend your character. I am the lawyer of my character. Nobody touches Miraz. (laughter) It's absolutely important to be critical, but at the same time to know the true reasons. He loves his son, he loves his family. He thinks it is his right to be king. He is a soldier. He's worked all his life in the battle.

CS: Is your role expanded as well?
Favino: (Smiles) Well, I'm not telling you. Something more, likely, but then in the end, when we talk about Andrew and working with him, and talking about characters and their personal arc in the story…it will lead you to surprises.

CS: Do you feel a lot of pressure with this movie since it's such a huge franchise and a big production?
Favino: No, actually, my feeling is that when you're working, you don't think of those things. It's not the kind of thing you can control, especially when you're working on it. The only thing that we both are trying to do is enjoying what we are doing. Obviously, it's absolutely not comparable to a European or Italian movie, so we are aware of the fact that this is going to be a big thing. But then, there's no way to control it when you are doing it. So the only thing we try to do is our end. They're giving us the best possibility to do our job in the best way. Not to talk badly about European cinema, which we love very much, but the main thing is that you are given the possibility to do it at your best. So we're here, we're enjoying it, meeting very nice people. We talked about costumes before, and the first thing as an actor that hit me was, "Oh wow, look at me, I'm a soldier." There's a lot of weight, I know, but when we're on a horse and we have one hundred horses, you look around yourself and say, "Aha, I AM in Narnia." It's what makes the dream come true actually. It is true when they say that it looks like being in an American movie.
Castellitto: It's interesting though because it's like Babel – we are Italians, Spanish, Mexican, French – like a gypsy community!
Favino: But then, in the end, working with Andrew in general…it's one of the most…
Castellitto: (speaking Italian)
Favino: (laughs) He says that we ourselves are Narnians in this region; we also feel like Narnians. But then working with Andrew, for me, has really been the biggest thing of all. I am really happy I met him and that he's chosen me. I think it's a very good experience. It's given me a lot to understand my personal career, and I wish I'll meet people like him from now on. I mean, his quality as a man, and of course as a director.

CS: Is Andrew a very hands-on director?
Favino: He is, yeah. You can see that he's really relaxed and controlling everything, which is something I admire very much, but he never loses any opportunity to work with all of us. I'm not talking only about the actors, but I can see that he is really careful about every single detail. And he's always thanking people for what they do. I've had two other opportunities to work with American movies, but this is, to me, the best I had. Talking also about the entire cast and crew. Everything is really relaxed, and all the people I've had the opportunity to work with are the best.
Castellitto: I think he really knows what he wants, but at the same time, he leaves you free to propose.
Favino: Yeah, he wants you to be involved.
Castellitto: You are free to propose other things.

CS: You two know each other well from making movies together. In the book, at one point, Glozelle has to betray the king, so have you shot that yet?
Favino: We haven't shot it yet, but that isn't a problem. (laughter) I'm joking. This is the third movie that we did together, and I've always admired Sergio as one of the best Italian actors we have, at least to me. So we have the chance to work together, but when you're working apart for different things, I don't really feel I have to hate him when I betray him. At the same time, he has to slap me and stab me in the back. We've made three movies together, and in all of them, he's been slapping me. (laughter)
Castellitto: Not yet, but we have time.

CS: So, I guess one of the biggest moments in the movie is the castle raid?
Castellitto: Spettacolare! Yes, incredible. We show a lot of people who jump. You know, half of this movie, we don't know what it is, because everyday on the set, we see a blue screen, so we must imagine that something happened, but we don't know what.
Favino: It will be a surprise even for us.
Castellitto: Yesterday, we shot a scene and they told us that an army was behind us.
Favino: Thousands of soldiers and cavalry. Actually, this morning, we've been rehearsing with horses and there were at least one hundred, so there's a very good mixture of real things and CGI.
Castellitto: Even though the machine is so big, there's something that he feels which is artistic. He's been surprised to find this huge machine going on, and at the same time, people working with their hands. This was something that surprised me and was extraordinary.

CS: Is Miraz the kind of king who gets into the fighting?
Castellitto: He is not a coward, he's a soldier. He's a murderer; he killed his brother. He is not a coward. The first idea I had of him is of Prince Claudius in Hamlet. That is the first reference, I think, but he's also a usurper. He had a son, he wanted the kingdom for his son, he loves his son. At the end, he accepts the fight and he tries to win.

CS: What about the actual battle scenes? Are you going to be involved in those?
Favino: I don't know how much we can say about that.

CS: Do you have a lot of scenes with Ben Barnes, who plays Prince Caspian? There weren't a lot of scenes with them together in the book.
Castellitto: The most important scene between us is when he comes to my bedroom and he wants to know the truth about the death of his father. This is the first fight. At the end of the fight when William says...
Favino: Don't tell everything
Castellitto: Ah, okay, read the book.

Check out our interview with Ben Barnes, who plays Miraz's nephew and the title character, Prince Caspian, by clicking here.

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