Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac tell us about their Household Scenes

Scenes from married life Jessica Chastain Oscar Isaac
HBO

The two Hollywood stars lived a shoot like no other, taking the characters of Bergman in this dusted HBO version of Scenes from Married Life.

As if he had invented the concept of the mini-series, half a century before everyone else, Ingmar bergman in 1973 divided the life of two of his time, into six episodes, chronicling the ups and downs of a bourgeois couple from Stockholm in Scenes from married life. The love story of Marianne and Johan seen through the scathing naturalistic prism of the Swedish filmmaker then imposed Bergman as one of the masters of the analysis of human behavior.

Scenes from a Marriage 1973
Cinematograph AB

Hagai levi is not left out on that side. Creator of Betipul, the original series that inspired In therapy (and In Treatment in the USA), and more recently The Affair, crowned at the Emmy Awards, the Israeli screenwriter and director has also made a specialty of on-screen autopsy human relations and more specifically modern marriage. Very influenced by the original work, which he says he saw when he was young in his Kibbutz, Levi dusted off these Scenes from married life for HBO, in a brand new series, which takes up the main parts of the story, placing the characters in the context of the 21st century (to be seen on OCS in US + 24 from September 13).

In fact, our series is an Israeli version of Bergman’s vision, brought back to America today. », Summarizes for Première the actor Oscar isaac, who takes over the role ofErland Josephson . ” What I love about the original is this very dry, brutal Scandinavian sense of humor. And it is not easy to transcribe in a modern American version. »His partner, Jessica chastain has the heavy burden of slipping into the narrow cult tailors of Liv Ullmann. A delicate exercise, especially since she confides in us to be ” obsessed with it. I have seen all his films, read all his books, even his daughter’s … “It must be said that Chastain and Ullmann know each other well, since the American star played in front of his camera, in 2014, for the film. Miss Julie : ” He is a very childish person. She is unfiltered, feels everything. So when I accepted the role, I wanted to be Liv, to embrace her vulnerability. And it was a very strange experience. Afterwards, I did not try to replay his Marianne. No one can. There is only one Marianne, and that is Liv Ullmann. Mira is a modern version, you have to see her like that “.

“It’s a wonderful Love Story actually …”

Modern. This is the watchword of this US adaptation of Scenes from married life, which reshapes the characters, reshapes relationships, reshapes the plots. While remaining very faithful to Bergman’s vision. ” It’s a wonderful Love Story actually. It is not an easy series to see, especially after a tough period like that of confinement. But it’s a bit like listening to a very sad song … There is something of that nature there with this series. It can have a cathartic effect. It might be good to go get that kind of feeling “, keep on going Jessica chastain, who thus embodies Mira, a businesswoman who has succeeded professionally, but who is struggling to find her place in the family home: ” Mira is a beige woman, she blends into the drab walls of her living room and her green sofa. She is just a silent version of herself. She is almost embarrassed by her own success and is afraid of crushing her husband at home. Suddenly, she is small within her couple and it is really something very dangerous. The series thus tells how she will succeed in asserting herself …

Scenes from a Marriage
HBO

To blossom, but far from her husband, away from this marriage which suffocates her, from this house in which she almost literally dissolves. Or the hearth as a sepulchral setting for family life. This American house plays a crucial role in the HBO version, so much so ” that at the end of each day our cinematographer, Andrij Parekh, would ask to film the empty house, room after room. And those long, beautiful shots of empty rooms ended up making it into the final cut, because this house is like their wedding battleground. In itself, it is part of the series “, remember Oscar isaac. ” Even more than in the original version by the way. So much is going on inside. This house evolves with them and acts as the third central character.the. “

“We filmed huge sequences, whole 25-minute takes! “

Especially since we shot in October 2020, in the midst of a pandemic. We were isolated and we lived almost literally on the plateau, in this house! “, insist Jessica chastain. An almost intimate shoot, to allow Hagai levi to create an indiscreet atmosphere that puts the viewer in a position of intrusive observer, as if posted behind a mirror without complexion: “ We listen at the door of their relationship. It’s almost a voyeuristic approach to staging. And that’s why it just sounds very real, very true. It looks more like theater than a TV series actually », Continues the actress. ” We filmed huge sequences, whole 25-minute takes! We didn’t even know where we were going. Hagai (Levi) asked us to improvise around the lines. Suddenly, we spoke for our characters, we directly expressed what they were probably thinking at the time. It’s an exhausting flow. There is really a way to get lost in this when you are an actor. But it’s also very exciting to lose control completely, precisely because it’s dangerous!

Scenes from a Marriage
HBO

A rare role in a filmography, and certainly the most complicated of the career ofOscar isaac, as he readily concedes to Première: “ All these lines, improvisations, long takes, it all flowed naturally. We were in symbiosis with Jessica. The hardest part, actually, was getting back to normal life, at the end of the day, being a normal parent or husband, after such a demanding shoot. From that point of view, it was without a doubt the most complicated role I have had to play so far.

“We sacrificed our friendship for this series! “

It must be said that his performance in Scenes from married life seriously contrasts with those who made him a star. In Star Wars, X-Men or soon in Dune. “ We are so far from Star Wars, that’s for sure! “Admits Isaac, who despite everything refuses to put” Scenes from a Marriage in opposition to the big productions. It’s such a special, hybrid, strange series, so close to the stage to be honest. These are the actors who dictate the rhythm, who form the scene, when in Star Wars you have a line here or there, which comes to be nested in a gigantic whole. The rhythm is found afterwards, during the editing!

Present in almost every shot, for 5 hours, Jessica chastain and Oscar isaac deliver a remarkable performance, on edge, marked by sequences of incredible river dialogues and scenes of unspeakable psychological brutality. For them who have often played together, who have known each other since their student years and who are really close in life, the experience has been tough: “ We sacrificed our friendship for this series! », Smiles the actress. “ From the first days of rehearsals, while reading the script, I told Oscar that it was going to be difficult to stay friends after that (laughs) … Even if, kidding aside, I rather have the feeling that we succeeded. to make the most of each other “.

Scenes from married life, to be seen on HBO from September 12, 2021 and in France on OSC in US + 24 from September 13.

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