×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Alicia Vikander ‘Scared’ Michael Fassbender in ‘Light Between Oceans’: She Was ‘Fierce and Hungry’

Actors join director Derek Cianofrance at Venice press conference

VENICE — Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender, one of the world’s most fashionable couples, hit the Lido Thursday and insisted on talking, of all things, about the subject of their press conference: Derek Cianfrance’s “The Light Between Oceans,” in which they star and which world premieres at the Venice Festival.

Shot in 2014 on Cape Campbell, a tiny, wind-buffeted peninsula in New Zealand, “The Light Between the Oceans” was the film where the actors met, fell in love and have remained a couple ever since.

Fassbender and Vikander were keen to talk about their onscreen characters in “The Light Between Oceans,” an adaptation of M.L. Stedman’s bestseller of the same title. In it, they play an upstanding but shell-shocked WWI vet-turned-lighthouse keeper and his young wife, who is desperate to have a child after two miscarriages and after losing her two brothers in WWI. She and her husband have both, in a sense, been traumatised by death, by WWI.

One bright day, a rowing boat washes up on the beach right outside the lighthouse with on board a dead man and a live two-month baby girl, which they decide to pass it off as their new-born daughter. That decision leaves huge hostages to fortune.

But Fassbender and Vikander were less keen to talk about their private life together, despite some good-humored prompting..

“I have a question for Mr. Fassbender because I would like him to look into my eyes,” a bubbly Italian journalist started off the press conferences questions to laughter. She continued: “I think this is the very first role in which you play a family man. Is this a rehearsal?”

“Everything is a rehearsal,” Fassbender answered, but didn’t answer the more private question.

That said, they were candid about the challenges and pleasures of the film. The one biggest challenge of playing Isabel, Vikander said, was that she wasn’t a mother, She realised that acting wasn-t playing characters that were not herself. But though Isabel’s yearning was so “profound” that she could understand it, though she felt under pressure when playing the role that “half the audience” would think she was playing emotions she hadn’t experienced.

“I loved Tom, his moral compass, his strength. It’s a love story, but really a story about life. WWI was such a horrific war, though all wars are horrific.  So we-re started with a place where war and death is coming with us. Isabel’s character is so full of life, future.

“If there was one thing to take away from the film it is forgiveness,” he added.  Another, Fassbender said, about the question of parenting in a film where it is such a large issue, is: ”What you can offer the child, as opposed to what the child can offer you.”

“I knew I had to come in and work with these guys and give it my very best. But I was up for the game, but I was very nervous. I got people that picked me up when I fell and who pushed me. One of the first things Derek told me when I got into the room was: ‘I expect my actors to fail and I expect them to surprise me,’” Vikander recalled.

She continued: “Michael’s support in those scenes were a big part of me daring to go all the way, which was needed for the role of Isabel.”

Fassbender admitted of Vikander, who had yet to win her Best Supporting Actress Academy Award when she played Isabel, that “I was kind of scared when Alicia came. She was so fierce and hungry. It was something that it’s always a great thing to see in an actor who is coming on, getting an opportunity who hasn’t been well known yet.”

He went on: “I remember that from when I was starting, that hunger when really fresh actors come on the scene makes more established actors up their game.” he said. “I really felt like I had to get my shit together and just be there and be as present as she was and Derek is somebody who demands more and more and more.”

Cianfrance called “The Light Between Oceans” a “battle between truth and love.”

In Cianfrance’s third feature after he broke out with “Blue Valentine, then followed up with “The Place Beyond the Pines,”  the ocean stands as a multiple metaphor, for forces beyond the star-crossed lovers control, a primal force and larger immensity, the director argued.

“This is a primal landscape where human nature and mother nature are one. There was a passage in the book that really devastated me, where Tom, the lighthouse keeper was holding his daughter’s hand and looking out into the ocean and seeing rocks that had been beaten by the ocean for hundreds of thousands of years,” Cianofrance said.

“Nothing that came before, in the eternity of time, or would come after, was more important to him than his daughter at that moment. Such moments may be insignificant over the course of time, but when you are living them they are momentous. I wanted to try and create that juxtaposition of scale.”

“I’ve taken it as my mission to tell human, family stories,” Cianfrance said at the press conference.

He had already talked eloquently to Variety about how he set out with “The Light Between Oceans,” a “addict of documentaries,” to become a documentarian of fiction. Cianfrance shot 209 hours of footage for the film, searching as he shot for a revelatory moment of truth.

He commented: “I have a real problem with fakery. When I work with my actors even the greatest actors in the world like Fassbender, Rachel Weiss, and Vikander, I’m looking for the acting to stop and life to begin.

More Film

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

  • Little Woods

    Film Review: 'Little Woods'

    So much of the recent political debate has focused on the United States’ southern border, and on the threat of illegal drugs and criminals filtering up through Mexico. But what of the north, where Americans traffic opiates and prescription pills from Canada across a border that runs nearly three times as long? “Little Woods” opens [...]

  • Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping

    Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping $60 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has become a destination for television visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, with deals worth $100 million and $250 million, respectively, and top comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ($40 million and $60 million, respectively). The streaming giant, which just announced it’s added nearly 10 million subscribers in Q1, is honing in [...]

  • Roman Polanski extradition

    Academy Responds to Roman Polanski: 'Procedures Were Fair and Reasonable'

    UPDATE: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has responded to a lawsuit from director Roman Polanski that claimed he was unfairly expelled from the organization behind the Oscars. “The procedures taken to expel Mr. Polanski were fair and reasonable. The Academy stands behind its decision as appropriate,” a spokesperson said. The Academy’s statement [...]

  • Lorraine Warren dead

    Lorraine Warren, Paranormal Investigator Who Inspired 'The Conjuring,' Dies at 92

    Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigator and demonologist whose life inspired franchises like “The Conjuring” and “The Amityville Horror,” has died. She was 92. Warren’s son-in-law Tony Spera confirmed the news. Spera said on Facebook, “She died peacefully in her sleep at home.” He continued, “She was a remarkable, loving, compassionate and giving soul. To quote Will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content