I had an opportunity to speak with legend Sir Ben Kingsley about his complex portrayal of Adolf Eichmann in Operation Finale.
There are few actors in this world as renowned and captivating as Sir Ben Kingsley for delivering all-time great performance after all-time great performance. In Operation Finale, Sir Ben Kingsley portrays a man known for pure real-life evil, the architect of the holocaust, in a multi-deminesonial performance. Initially, Kingsley’s Eichmann is presented in Operation Finale as a seemingly ordinary father, who’s disappointed in his son Klaus after he lashes out against his (unknowingly) Jewish girlfriend. He poses the question, “This is how I raised you?” and to go make things right with Sylvia. The audience is then presented with an image of Eichmann sitting with his younger child, enjoying watching trains pass. An innocent activity out of context, a truly surreal, horrifying visual in-context as Eichmann.
It’s the first time in a film we see Eichmann in the context of his family life, showing the audience, these are in actor Lior Raz’ (who portrays Isser Harel in Operation Finale) words “real, real people” who did these horrible things. They are not otherworldly beings or monsters crafted in a book but real people who did the unspeakable. It’s of vital importance to note this fact because as Lior Raz has commented, “It could still happen today.”
One of the most enduring images in Operation Finale is that of an Eichmann being more preoccupied with wiping ink off his shirt sleeve as Jews are shot without mercy in trenches. Eichmann describes that he might have seen Peter Malkin’s sister among them holding her baby, asking for it to be saved, during what appears to be a flashback. Yet, is referenced by Eichmann as what he thinks Malkin believes happened right after. Leading the question if Eichmann recounted what did truly happen or not in the film. Yet, Kingsley’s Eichmann attempts to plead that his crimes were that of his superiors and he was just doing his job. That he should not take the brunt of the blame, or as he calls it in Operation Finale, be the “scapegoat” to Peter Malkin’s [Oscar Isaac] people in Israel.
Eventually, Kingsley’s Eichmann agrees to go willingly to answer for his unspeakable crimes if he is allowed the promise of seeing his wife again. Earlier Eichmann is constantly concerned if is family is safe until Oscar Isaac’s Peter Malkin confirms that they are indeed safe, “What do you think we are?” It’s ironic that Eichmann is so concerned about what might happen to see family when he saw through a plan to see millions of other ones to be permanently ruined.
Sir Ben Kingsley told me that he “was was very privileged to look at him (Eichmann) from the perspective of his victims.” How the “perception of the role was not defined by his [Eichmann’s] ideology,” and rather his preparation for the role, ‘was defined by acquaintance and friendship with his victims.’
Interview with Sir Ben Kingsley on Operation Finale :
Sir Ben Kingsley: Hello Nir!
Nir Regev: Hey, so you played a character that was very complex. I felt you brought a lot of sympathetic elements.
Sir Ben Kingsley: Good.
Nir Regev: It was an interesting character where even after he got caught initially and tried denying it, where I felt maybe again they caught the wrong guy. I’m really interested to hear your research and general inspirations to play this kind of completely new perspective, on what people envision as just evil, and the architect, and all that kind of stuff.
Sir Ben Kingsley: I think that the actual trial showed us how he was perceived from the point of view of his victims. The first time ever I think, that such a trial was televised worldwide and the world had an opportunity to see his victims point to him. In other words, he seemed to be in that glass box shaped and defined, not by his ideology but by his victims. That’s where the truth emerges. I spent time as you probably know with Simon Wiesenthal when I portrayed him in Murderers Among Us, the HBO series. He was the great Nazi hunter, who in fact discovered that Eichmann was in Buenos Aires. And I’ve already played that man, which is very interesting.
Then of course, I moved into Schindler’s List under Steven’s guidance and met the Pfefferberg family and other survivors on the list. And then I was graced with the opportunity of playing Otto Frank, the remarkable father of Anne Frank. In the film footage of the trial, you see the enormous grief unleashed from the witnesses’ perspective. I, from all the wonderful people that I’ve mentioned, including Miep Gies who hid Anne Frank in the attic with her family, was at the receiving end in them of a tidal wave of grief… Accompanied by an extraordinary dignity. And it is that wave of grief that defines what these people did to people. So my perception of the role was not defined by his ideology. And my preparation for the role, was thank goodness, defined by my acquaintance and my friendship with his victims. I was very privileged to look at him from the perspective of his victims.
Nir Regev: The scene in which you wipe off ink and it’s kind of almost like a flashback. I was wondering when I was watching the movie was that supposed to have actually happened? Or was that you just trying to kind of hone in on Peter [Malkin] and try to say ‘Oh, this is what you think I did?’
Sir Ben Kingsley: In the film, he mentions the child had some blood splashing on him. There is a very bizarre connection between cruelty and sentimentality. And also when a soul is stained, there is some obsessive, repetitive gesture that sometimes accompanies that. Like the famous washing of the hands of Lady Macbeth. And it’s a similar kind of dramatic gesture, that I think encapsulates the bizarre combination of utter indifference to the fate of people and yet making sure that his shoelaces are tied properly, and his tie is straight. It’s a very odd combination but it does exist.
Of that fastidiousness, in the dress. And also of course the scientific process, mechanical process, military process of the fastidiousness with lists and film footage, and photographs of destroying as many of Europe’s Jews as they possibly could. It’s very hard for us to understand but it is an extraordinary combination.
Nir Regev: Thank you very much!
Sir Ben Kingsley: Thank you!
See Operation Finale in theaters starting today.
Ian McShane spoke via Skype about the possibility of a followup to HBO’s Deadwood film at NYC’s movie screening at the Split Screens Festival.
No guarantees but it sounds like Deadwood’s story might potentially continue past its cinematic debut according to Al Swearengen himself, Ian McShane. The Gem Saloon proprietor was all smiles on the eve of Deadwood: The Movie’s viewing party at the SVA Theatre for NYC’s Split Screens Festival. McShane did not close the book on a new Deadwood chapter when asked about ‘getting to say goodbye to cast members this time around.’
Host/Interviewer Matt Zoller Seitz jokingly prodded McShane by commenting, “Wait a second here… That’s not what you told me last time I talked to you! You told me this was the last one!” McShane responded, “I’m F***in’ Swearengen, I lie a lot! ” drawing roaring laughter from the crowd. The Deadwood star had said, “The thing is that the story goes on, in every town in America” when reminiscing about creator David Milch’s excellence just minutes earlier.
Seitz inquired if a Deadwood sequel would be set in the high country, to which McShane responded, “No, it wouldn’t be right if Robin [Weigert] wasn’t there!” * Robin (Calamity Jane) was a featured guest at the SVA Theatre to discuss the picture on-stage. McShane detailed how every cast member meant something to the show. “If everybody is not there, it’s not the same!” How it “never felt crammed in” to have so many characters but like a “real town.”
Swearengen literally lives through McShane
Not only was Ian McShane in great spirits, he was on fire all interview in true Swearengen fashion. You could tell the character is part of him and always will be. From the moment he came on screen via Skype at the SVA Theatre, McShane hilariously commented, “What are those three f***in’ empty seats I see there?! I’ll cut their c***s**king throats, whoever did this!”
When there was mention by Director Daniel Minahan about rebuilding The Gem Saloon set because the original had been lost… McShane comedically quipped, “It was because of those Westworld bastards I tell ya!” The legendary actor mentioned how he got back into character by waking up each morning and saying his most famous catchphrase. Any true Deadwood fan can guess what it is!
McShane spoke highly of creator David Milch, crediting his brilliance in crafting the universe responsible for the best three years of his acting life. The Deadwood star said he was happy for the show’s entirety and commented about loving to watch William Sanderson play E.B. Farnum. Elaborating how Sanderson should be in every Shakespeare play because ‘He’s the only one who cane make those funny!’ McShane mentioned the cast and crew had kept in touch and occasionally even had Deadwood dinners every now and then.
Crowd Reaction gauging for Deadwood: The Movie sequel?
McShane mentioned ‘going into a meeting after this,’ a meeting with HBO execs about a potential Deadwood followup, perhaps? HBO representatives were said to be in attendance at the SVA Theatre… Maybe taking in reactions to Deadwood: The Movie from the live audience? Hmmmm. The crowd certainly responded favorably, with a packed SVA Theatre and even vocally engaging with the characters on the silver screen all night.
Actor Johnny Solo gave a breakout performance as horse track race swindling, easy livin’ Gino in new comedy film, 79 Parts: Director’s Cut.
The following article contains minor spoilers for 79 Parts: Director’s Cut.
Every once in a while an actor catches your attention by playing a character that feels so true to life, it’s like a person you’ve already met. Johnny Solo’s performance in 79 Parts: Director’s Cut harkens back to raw, old school humor, the type you’d see in a 70s-era Israeli Bourekas film or even Jackie Chan’s 1978 picture, Drunken Master. The lovable, sort of lazy, creative hustler always looking to pull a quick ‘combina’ (fast one) instead of working. It’s a universal formula, we all know someone like this at some point of our lives… Yet, we can’t help but befriend them. For all his trouble, Gino spells excitement and opportunity in lead character Jack Anderson’s [Ryan O’Callaghan] life.
Sure Gino’s methods are gray area, usually less on the legal side but his confidence throughout the film is infectious. Simply put, you want to believe, and sometimes the quarter comes up Tails in life like he promised. Early on in the film, Gino’s pal Jack lets it slip that the race Gino bet on (and won) was fixed, leading to a viewer comforting chase scene by the other gamblers.
Comfortable in the sense that you can just turn your mind off and enjoy, no lengthy metaphors and allegories to ponder. The late night comfort food of cinema if you will. The appetizing chase instantly attracts curious onlookers, gazing over what you’re watching on the tube. The type to ask for just one fry but end up staying for the whole movie.
Johnny Solo’s character is defined by his body language and physicality. Mildly reminiscent of Seinfeld’s Kramer in the way he physically embraces those closest to him, arm on the shoulder and such… And has absolutely zero inhibition! He goes to the track with an obvious fake beard in tow, has no qualms about wearing risqué, silly clothing, or pilfering a stand for it. Gino is as gritty as can be and direct about his ‘me first’, often self-centered behavior.Pictured: Johnny Solo as Gino in 79 Parts: Director’s Cut – Photo Credit: Ari Taub
When Gino tells Jack he’s got another horse tip after Jack just got a very shady, risky loan from his uncle, he informs him, ‘It’ll help me… Okay, we’ll split it you’ll get something too.’ The selfish nonchalance of it all is what makes Gino a fun character. At the same time, you can tell he has the best of intentions for his friend, as long as it benefits him in some way first.
Even when Gino discovers his best buddy just got married to a girl named Anna, his first thought is why he finds out the info last. He’s relentless in trying to figure out if pal Jack has business with his uncle that he’s cutting him out of the loop from. During all of this, Gino is fully aware that he ‘kind of screwed’ Jack over prior but can’t help putting himself first.Pictured: Johnny Solo as Gino and Daniela Mastropietro as Anna in 79 Parts: Director’s Cut – Photo Credit: Ari Taub
The delightful Italian accent of Anna played by another film standout in Daniela Mastropietro, perfectly compliments Gino’s vagabond roughness later on. Gino attempts to pull another fast one with a doctored wedding album to help his friend’s sham marriage out. However, Anna is not a fan, immediately sensing they’ll be caught and presenting a drawing Jack made instead. The smile on Gino’s face when giving the doctored photo album to immigration says it all. A total comedic contrast to Anna’s worry that she’ll be sent of the country. It’s what makes each scene Gino is in fun and wholly unpredictable.
Likewise, Gino’s relationship with his uncle Dennis [Aidan Redmond] is what complete’s his arch. Despite Jack seemingly looking up to Gino, uncle Dennis sees him for what he is. Always reluctant to help him out and trying to figure out what his nephew’s angle is. One of the best parts of the film is when Dennis sends his nephew to dig randomly, without informing him what he’s digging from. Gino shovels aimlessly as punishment, unknowingly looking for a lost wedding ring. A wedding ring that Dennis’ wife Vera [Lisa Regina] demands be found, no excuses.
Johnny Solo’s character Gino is one you’d like to see again in a sequel or on a weekly TV sitcom. The kind of character where you’re curious what shenanigans they’re up to this week. That’s not easy to craft in any performance, comedic or not. Selling believability is an acting skillset not to be taken lightly.
79 Parts: Director’s Cut Film Trailer and Info
Visit the 79 Parts: Director’s Cut official website for more information about the film which features Oscar nominated actor Eric Roberts and a landlord guest role by Sandra Bernhard. 79 Parts: Director’s Cut is a Safier Entertainment and Factory Film Studios film by Hit and Run Productions. The film was directed by Ari Taub with the screenplay / characters being penned by Mario Radosta along with Chuck McMahon and John Ramaine.
The Natural Aristocrat spoke with ‘On/Off’ star Carole Brana (Meredith) about vulnerability as a source of acting inspiration in the silent void of space.
At the heart of every human fear is the beating truth of real possibility, just as actress Carole Brana’s Meredith discovers in On/Off. The Sci-Fi French short took film festivals by storm, amassing over 16 awards, and recently seeing its first public debut through DUST. The film’s easy attraction of maximum calamity and catastrophe in the helplessness of space, the new wild west, speaking to genre fans.
Then a timely film twist left them wondering about the future of technological depravity. How advanced civilization is doomed to search for a connection to the humanity they intentionally left behind. Meredith’s imprint of an aged voice message throughout the picture embodying the concept. A subconscious human need to cling desperately to an idea without even remembering its true origins.
Actress Carole Brana told The Natural Aristocrat it was through the power of vulnerability that she found inspiration to play the title’s lead, Meredith… Who watches her very spacecraft disintegrate before her eyes.
Interview with Carole Brana on Sci-Fi film short, On/Off
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: As Meredith, you portray the ultimate vulnerability of space. Despite being fully shielded in your exterior, even minor objects flying toward you like a screw could spell the end. What do you look to as an actress to connect with this concept? Do you utilize sense memory and emotionally recall a particular point in your life where you felt similar vulnerability?
As an actress I need to use vulnerability as a source of inspiration. Vulnerability is often considered in real life as a weakness unfortunately. To play Meredith, I needed to mute the daily mental brainstorming and let things emerge organically. This is not about memory or recall, but about finding the limits inside myself, the failure to catch the light.
In the film, Meredith asks for the music to be turned off despite her plunging serotonin levels. Was she truly irritated by the music or did she want ‘the headache’ to continue in order to access the voice message memory in your opinion?
Excellent question! This moment is interesting because you have the choice. You, and only you can decide Meredith’s mood! So, I won’t tell you what I think and but I’ll let you choose which decision speaks more to you.
What went through your mind when you visualized the spacecraft disintegrating? The last refuge evaporating before your eyes…
This scene was very intense, I remember the vertigo of the soul. Something broke forever inside Meredith and I needed to make a step and jump in it.
What did it mean to you to be nominated for a Maverick Movie Award for On/Off for Best Actress in a film short in 2014?
I was very proud and very honoured to be nominated for the Best Actress Maverick Movie Award. It means a lot to me. I’m passionate about my job and to receive a nomination is a gift. I’m very proud that On/Off won the VFX Maverick Movie Award on 2014…
I’m very grateful to (Director) Thierry Lorenzi who gave me this opportunity, and very grateful to the technical crew. I hope to see this movie have a long life.
Should it someday be possible to live on like Meredith as an android of sorts, would you just choose that for yourself?
I don’t know. Today I believe that life is a continuum of states and we haven’t explored all of the possibilities. But being an android is not really one of my goals!
Were you inspired by the replicas of Blade Runner 2049, HBO’s Westworld, Ex Machina, A.I. Artificial Intelligence or any other Sci-Fi work for the revelation that you’re a robot?
I’ve been interested in the Sci-Fi world since a very young age, so I’ve been watching a lot of movies, I’ve read a lot of books and I think I’m somewhat created by this culture. To play Meredith I decided to act like a computer. I used my body as machine with uploads, updates, bugs etc… So I proposed a machine reload more than a conscious revelation.
[End Spoiler Warning]
On/Off Film Premiere Trailer and Synopsis
Obsessed by a mysterious voice message, astronaut Meredith will face its paradoxical condition in order to stay connected to her humanity.
* For English Speakers: The film has English subtitles with French being the spoken language of the picture.
Visit the official DUST website to watch On/Off (no subscription needed) and other intriguing, curated, independent Sci-Fi films. Take a tour of the official On/Off website for more information about the short film by Director Thierry Lorenzi.