Sunday, May 19, 2024

Stellan and Gustaf Skarsgard Talk ‘What Remains’ in Locarno, But Not the Strike

Stellan Skarsgård and Gustaf Skarsgård introduced their latest film “What Remains” at Locarno Film Festival on Friday.

Directed by Ran Huang, it was written by Huang and Megan Everett Skarsgård. Andrea Riseborough also stars.

“It took a lot of pain,” admitted Gustaf Skarsgård to the audience after the screening.

“But it helped having Ron there, and dad, and Andrea, so I could really immerse myself in this fucked up journey.”

Despite the team making it all the way to Switzerland, journalists attending an intimate press conference were asked not to inquire about the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, with Gustaf Skarsgård also dodging a question referencing his recent role in “Oppenheimer.”

However, the “Vikings” actor did discuss “the most challenging” role he has ever done.

“By a mile! It was a painful treat,” he said.

In the film, set in the 1990s and loosely based on a true story, he plays Mads Lake, who suddenly confesses to multiple murders of missing boys. His therapist Anna Rudebeck and policeman Soren Rank try to uncover the truth, while also dealing with their own demons and past abuses.

“I think I have counted three smiles in total in this film,” deadpanned the actor.

“It would have been easy to be repulsed [by its subject matter], because it’s so problematic and hurtful. It’s the easy way out, to go: ‘We are not going to touch that.’ But if that’s the case, then you know there is something there to explore.”

Answering Variety’s question, his father agreed: “It was the reason I took it. You always look for scripts that haven’t been written and for films that haven’t been made. That’s what I felt when I read it. It’s very dark and very beautiful, and I wanted to be a part of that journey to hell.”

“We are dealing with that myth, with that idea of ‘closure.’ I mean, your child is killed and you can have closure?! Come on.”

It took eight years to complete the movie, one that provides an “outsider’s” take on Sweden, said Ran Huang and Megan Everett Skarsgård.

“It’s funny, because it’s an American trying to tell the Chinese about Swedish social services,” she said, with Huang noting that instead of looking for right or wrong, they wanted to focus on “human, emotional connection” forming between broken characters.

“It was interesting to read the script set in Sweden that’s… so different. Even the names are spelled wrong! I mentioned it to both of them, a few times, and they never changed them,” joked Gustaf Skarsgård.

“It’s my country, but it really isn’t. It’s also why it works in English, I think. The whole thing is ‘The Twilight Zone.’”

“Yes, and then we shot in Finland,” quipped Stellan Skarsgård.

“What Remains” is produced by Fake Action Truth and co-produced by Film Service Finland. Minerva Pictures handles international sales.

The team also gushed about their absent co-star Andrea Riseborough, who didn’t attend the fest.

“She is such an incredible, intuitive actress. We were like these two isolated islands, longing for connection. It was an incredible chemistry: co-dependent, weird, fucked-up,” said Gustaf Skarsgård, with his father chiming in: “She’s one of the best actors around. You saw that in ‘To Leslie.’ It was breathtaking what she did there,” he said, mentioning Riseborough’s controversial Oscar-nominated performance.

“She is a good actress, so she is normal. When you work with good people, there is no diva behavior,” he added. But his son begged to differ.

“Apart from me, obviously.”

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