TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL — There was a noticeable missing presence at “The Drop” press conference yesterday, the last feature James Gandolfini completed before he passed away last June. The film – in line with most of writer Dennis Lehane’s stories – explores the seedy underbelly of Brooklyn. It was only apt that they open the discussion about such a character study by addressing the fictional king of crime himself.
“He was such a great actor, artist and man,” said director Michael R. Roskam. “It was such an honor to be a director and see an icon like him perform so close to you. I’d known that James was interested in this role, and he was always first in my mind.”
Along with Roskam and Lehane, lead actors Tom Hardy – who gave a quietly deft performance – Noomi Rapace and Matthias Schoenaerts talked about digging deep into the characters and how their own historical European experience (as all are from European countries) doesn’t deter from playing a working class Brooklynite.
Besides losing myself in Hardy’s blue eyes, here are some other things that were talked about:
Tom Hardy on preparing for his character: “I’m always fascinated with characters that don’t get to speak their voice. The most interesting characters are hidden under rocks. A lot of the preparation is in my head. I read the script once and then sit with it and think, a lot. One of the downsides of being successful and working is that you don’t get a lot of time for preparation. I had the flight from the set of “Locke” to New York to prepare. I make human decisions in the moment, and I try to find out what decisions would make the most sense for that character. I exfoliate the character’s sensibilities. The preparation was on the job, you know, I just fake it to make it and hope that something sticks.” [He jests, of course]
Dennis Lehane on his choice of subject matter: “I’m keenly fascinated between haves and have notes. It’s a rigged game and always has been. I’m interested in the have nots because that’s who I grew up with. [They] tend to express themselves in moments of great pain with violence, because it’s the only weapon they have available. It’s not the violence of a corporation that can take you up with a pen or the law or buy a court, so what you get is Ferguson. That’s what I write about and why I’m fascinated by it.”
Michael Roskam on how being from Belgium isn’t so different from Brooklyn: “Society is very much reflected by the people you find in bars. At first I was worried to portray a world I didn’t grow up in, as I’m from Europe, but going from bar to bar looking for a place to shoot, I became more comfortable with the idea of it. We had a homicide detective offer to take us on a ride with him, we played poker with the local firemen. The thing that made me most sure [I could do it] though was when I saw the Brooklyn motto – “Een Draght Mackt Maght” (“In unity there is strength”) – which not only is written in Dutch, but is the exact same motto as Belgium.”
Noomi Rapace on her reverence for Michael Roskam’s vision: “You see things in quite a religious and symbolic way. I love how you told me that [my character] Nadia is like a broken angel. I started to see your universe, like how the dog is like a saint. He was the healer and the one that brought [Hardy’s character] and myself together. There was one day on set, this close up of Tom, and there was a shadow that fell on his face that looked like a cross. You showed it to me and you were so excited. It was beautiful to discover that through you.”