The Hand of God: how Filippo Scotti became Paolo Sorrentino’s alter-ego

Meeting with the young Italian actor, Marcello Mastroianni prize for best hope at the last Venice Film Festival.

In God’s hand, the magnificent self-portrait of Paolo Sorrentino, the beginner Filippo Scotti plays Fabietto, a Neapolitan teenager of the 80s, whose joyful life will be struck by a tragedy, before being saved by Maradona, then by the cinema. Met in Paris, the one we already nicknamed “the Italian Timothée Chalamet” tells us how he is the alter-ego of the director of La Grande Bellezza.

First: When did you realize that God’s hand was an autobiography by Paolo Sorrentino?

Filippo Scotti: Immediately, before you even read the script. As soon as I got the first email about the first audition. There was a description of the character, which stated that he had an earring and sideburns. Naples, the earring, the sideburns… That already gave a lot of clues. I told myself that was what Paolo Sorrentino had to have in mind: to find someone to play him young. The email specified that if we had an earring, we could keep it, whereas usually, for a casting, we are asked to remove it instead.

So you already wore an earring?

Yes. At the second audition, the one where I met Paolo, he asked me to lift my hair, he saw the curl. And I think he liked it.

Did you know his work well?

Yes, I had seen all of his films. The first was The Consequences of Love. Next, La Grande Bellezza. Then The man in addition, Friend of the family, Youth, This Must Be The Place, Il Divo, Silvio and the others… In that order!

How did you manage to distinguish between the character of Fabietto and Sorrentino himself?

At first, I didn’t really do it. Then I wanted to build a distance between the character and the director. So you don’t have to think about it anymore. I focused on Fabietto, envisioning him as a character to play. The reverse would have been more complicated, I would have had to ask Paolo questions about his life, and I didn’t want to go into that logic.

How did Paolo Sorrentino prepare you for the re-creation of this world – that of his youth? Has he given you movies to watch, books to read?

I spent a summer month in Naples, with my parents, on vacation. I had asked him to give me advice, to prepare me. He gave me music to listen to – Talking Heads and Cure, in particular. And then two films: The man who loved women, by François Truffaut, and The paths of perdition, by Sam Mendes, asking me more specifically, for this one, to pay attention to the approach of Jude Law, which I then tried to reproduce.

Jude Law, his actor of The Young Pope !

And yes… Overall, Paolo gave me little information, but it was all essential.

You are a young actor, and you suddenly find yourself very exposed thanks to this film, you won an award at the Mostra, you travel, you give interviews… What effect does that have on you? That’s exciting ? Tiring ?

It’s, um… tiring. And exciting. I have the impression that it allows me to know myself better. To think. I go from one hotel to another. It had never happened to me to be so far from home for so long. I often feel very lonely. And a little melancholy, too.

Like a character from Sorrentino?

Probably a little, yes.

God’s hand, by Paolo Sorrentino, available on Netflix.

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