Prominent Italian thesis Tony Cervillo (“The Great Beauty”) and Silvio Orlando, who played Cardinal Violo in “The Young Pope”, did not get a chance to share the screen before director Leonardo Di Costanzo cast them. And a jailed mafia boss – in his prison drama “The Inner Cage”.
The landscape was shot in an ancient rural prison on the island of Sardinia, including the original ex-convict and former correctional officer. The plot escalates into increasing tensions between guards and prisoners and the mobility to find a way to coexist with the closure of the facility and thus partial eviction, then leads to administrative instability. It forces a skeletal crew to stay and save a dozen prisoners who still cannot be moved elsewhere. In this predicament they find ways to make their mutual captivity more tolerable.
After the film premiered in Venice, where “The Inner Cage” appeared outside the competition, Cervillo and Orlando spoke. Diversity Challenging their roles and how they make fun of each other. Quotes.
Sylvio, how was it acting with Tony who has a kind of dual dynamics?
Orlando: I don’t like to be beaten around the bushes. There are actors [always] Competition is especially in movies, where there are fights for close ones and so on. We are like chickens in the same cage. So on my part, initially, there was some concern about facing Tony whose star has grown so much in recent years that he has an almost mysterious aura. I also felt the responsibility of playing this character [a Mafia boss] I am very different from the happy-lucky type who I often portray. I don’t think my physique is too threatening, so I had to use vision and silence.
Servillo: The idea of giving us a role that went against the characters we played before was a winner. Of course the audience could have expected me to play the role of a criminal and Sylvio a jailer. But flipping roles has put us in an uncomfortable position which has made it even more challenging for us. Silvio and I come from similar backgrounds in the Neapolitan theater world; We were always curious about each other. So our common background has protected us from any [artistic] Violence
Another key aspect is the screenplay of the film where the perpetrators request the guards to take action. In particular it is the character of Silvio who gives birth to Gayatano’s internal conflict, the character I play. And puts him at the center of this powerful push and pulls in his sense of responsibility and empathy.
Whatever the competition between the actors, there is competition between the characters you have played. It’s like a conflict sometimes. Silvio, was it hard to find violence in yourself to play the role of the Mafia boss?
Orlando: For me acting is the art of memory. You just have to be more discriminating with the help you render toward other people. This character can be imagined by anyone farthest from me, and I say it with due respect to criminals.
But one thing I think is that he is a normal leader. And the funny thing is that Tony’s character also becomes a leader. But what is interesting about him is that he becomes one by doing what a prison guard should not do.
Have you done a lot of rehearsals and resumes, or has the performance just flowed?
Servillo: We had a long preparation before we started shooting. There were parts of it so that we could get to know non-professional actors, some of whom were former prisoners and others former guards.
But using the screenplay only as a basis is part of Leonardo’s approach, from which actors can stray. So we talked about these characters and rehearsed a lot of the original scenes. Like the moment when I sit down and eat with the prisoners.
Sometimes an actor’s mind travels which can seem bizarre. I think that deeply, unconsciously, what played a role in my preparation for this role was the reminiscence of my films where great American actors like Henry Fonda, James Stewart and Spencer Tracy played good guys. Simple character who was honest, humble and clean and whose deeds were ready to do well. Spencer Tracy, with her eloquence, her silence; He is still my favorite movie actor. I told Leonardo: ‘I’m playing a positive hero.’ I had no other chance for a game, and God only knows that they need us today!
Leonardo came from the documentary. You were a real prisoner with the real culprits. Has it affected your acting style?
Orlando: More than that, the reality of this abandoned ancient prison impressed me. Empty space, noise, smell, cold. This inhuman, ancient place makes me wonder how we finally survived the law of vengeance. A place that is supposed to be corrective or educational rather than a place of violence.
Servillo: Yes, space has played an important role. The real cruelty of this place; Underground cells. It has given us a knowledge of this world from which we can feed, trying to get closer to it every day so that we can portray these characters more effectively. In my case there was also a guard uniform which is important for an actor.
Orlando: I would say that when I was playing Cardinal Violo [in “The Young Pope”] I was sitting in the lobby of a hotel waiting to be called to the set and two Spanish tourists came and knelt in front of me and kissed my ring.
Did you have fun playing with each other?
Servillo: Yes, it was a lot of fun. It’s a known fact that Silvio has a comic streak and I couldn’t do too much comedy on screen, so it had an underlying current.
Orlando: But you have natural comic breaks, even though you are known for drama, and you are really inexperienced.
Servillo: Yes, in the kitchen scene I would often jump my head against the dish rack and other things.
Orlando: I thought he was doing it on purpose!
Servillo: We had a lot of fun. And I think it also gave the film some lightness, where it could have been rather dramatic.