Brad Pitt relates ‘By The Sea’ script blurs into reality

Joining Angelina Jolie Pitt both in production duties and in front of the screen for Universal Pictures’ new romantic drama By the Sea is husband Brad Pitt.

“By the Sea” follows an American writer named Roland (Pitt) and his wife, Vanessa (Jolie Pitt), who arrive in a tranquil and picturesque seaside resort in 1970s France, their marriage in apparent crisis. As they spend time with fellow travelers, the couple begins to come to terms with unresolved issues in their own lives.

Brad Pitt reflects on the story and their experience: “In the sense that it is sparse and elegant in its telling, Angie has written a very European film. Our job as actors is to make it more personal. Suddenly, to make it that personal, it becomes blurred. We have such history and mutual respect…as well as expectations of each other and our family. It was one of the most challenging things I’ve taken on. But at the same time, there’s been a great freedom in that, because we can experiment and play. It was oddly a safer environment than any set I’ve been on before, and so we let loose.”

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Six characters take center stage in this tale, and Pitt walks us through the key players: “It’s a story about multiple couples at different stages in their lives. There are Lea and Francois, a couple who is just married and excited by the potential of the future; Michel and Patrice, who, in the form of a friendship, have been hardened and calloused and softened and widened by their experiences. Then there are our characters, Roland and Vanessa, who are at that stage where the newness has worn off and everything has come to the surface. It’s that point where they can either break through this and grow stronger beyond that point, or go their separate ways.”

It was the final pairing whom Jolie Pitt and Pitt ultimately decided to portray on screen. They would explore the travails of the second stage of love and how couples cope with the unexpected blows that life brings to a relationship that started with endless promise and isn’t sure where to go next.

For his part, Pitt relished delving into a character so very different from his previous roles. He explains: “Roland’s trying to figure out his book, and they’ve come to this seaside village for inspiration. I’m sure he’s got visions of Hemingway on his mind, with this locality and characters. But his book ultimately becomes about them and their experiences…as well as the effect that this time and place has had on them, and how they come out the other side.”

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As Roland spends time among the locals, working on his book and racking his brain about how to come out on the other side of a torturous time in his marriage, he finds strange comfort in his helplessness. Reflects Pitt: “There is a puzzle in figuring out those things that get in the way of your true feelings about someone, really loving them. A lot of it is past insecurities, wanting something so much that you focus too much on losing it. Then all this is in play.”

Discussing the experience of working with her off-screen husband, Jolie Pitt is characteristically frank: “We have 10 years of history, and it all fed into these performances. It was challenging. I realized that it’s the greatest thing as an artist if you can use all of the intimacy toward your partner, challenge and push each other and fight to make things better. You pull out something from one another that feels very different.”

By the Sea opens November 18, 2015 exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas as distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.


James McAvoy cheats death, tests destiny in ‘Victor Frankenstein’

James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe star in Victor Frankenstein, a dynamic and thrilling twist on a legendary tale. Radical scientist Victor Frankenstein (McAvoy) and his equally brilliant protégé Igor Strausman (Radcliffe) share a noble vision of aiding humanity through their groundbreaking research into immortality. But Victor’s experiments go too far, and his obsession has horrifying consequences. Only Igor can bring his friend back from the brink of madness and save him from his monstrous creation.

The production made creative use of the storms for one of the film’s iconic scenes, the creation of the monster, and for its most impressive set: the interior of the castle and laboratory, where Victor brings his “experiment” to life.

While inspired by Mary Shelley’s classic novel and the countless interpretations of that story, screenwriter Max Landis’ “regeneration” focuses on Victor and his best friend and assistant Igor. In fact, it’s the first story to be told largely from Igor’s perspective.

Fun and dangerous, yes, but he’s also, brilliant, obsessed – and a sociopath. As Victor walks a fine light between lightness and darkness, and between life and death, only Igor can keep him from a descent into madness from which there’ll be no return. “Victor Frankenstein” is also, notes James McAvoy, a love letter to the myriad films featuring those characters and themes. “This film has many of the familiar elements you expect to see in a Frankenstein movie, but adds unexpected dimensions of character, relationships and entertainment.”

“Victor and Igor are at the forefront of scientific and medical research,” notes McAvoy. “But just because they can cheat death, should they do it? “I think Victor’s intentions are good,” he continues. “He’s looking to improve the human condition, which is very fragile. Victor is trying to make it more robust and, ideally, eliminate death, which has been a human obsession for ages.”

To McAvoy, a character with such world-changing ambitions would not be a lab rat holding course at a chalkboard. He’d be nothing less than a force of nature. “Victor just doesn’t stop moving. He’s a creator of machines, as well as of a man, plus a skilled engineer and an accomplished surgeon.”

“Every time Daniel and I had a scene together, we’d ask each other, ‘How physical and dangerous-looking can we make this? Come on, man!,’” says McAvoy. “We are similar in energy levels and physical ability, so we just kind of went at each other, 12 hours each day. Adds Radcliffe: “James is a bold actor and really hits the ground running in an exciting way. That enabled us to make some interesting choices together.”

McAvoy relates that, “Whenever somebody asked me what I was doing at the moment (during production of “Victor Frankenstein”), I would say, I’m playing Frankenstein, and they’d reply, ‘You’re a little short to be playing the monster.’ And I’d correct them and say, ‘No, no, it’s the doctor.’ So, yeah, we’re giving the name back to Dr. Vic.”

A pivotal moment for both Victor and Igor is an early scene where Victor straightens Igor’s hunchback, which McGuigan says is “a metaphor for the entire movie.” Having rescued Igor from a London circus, Victor takes him to his flat and within minutes throws Igor against the wall and produces a massive syringe with which he performs a lightning-fast medical procedure on his new “patient.” Moments later, Igor’s hunchback is corrected. “If you think you knew Victor, the first few minutes of the film will prove you don’t,” says McGuigan. “He’s dangerous and fun to watch.”

Victor Frankenstein arrives in theatres this November 25, 2015 as released by 20th Century Fox and to be distributed by Warner Bros.