Writer and director John Charles Jopson on The Absinthe Drinkers, Peter Facinelli, and the cast
April 17, 1:27 AM · Add a Comment
Add fire-breathing, love-stricken, historic sculptor Lucciola to the list of Twilight star Peter Facinelli’s up-coming film roles. Facinelli has recently accepted a part in the up-coming 19th century piece The Absinthe Drinkers, in which he will portray an “opium-addicted has-been sculptor [who is] a member of a small clique of eccentric foreign artists who have settled in Montmartre (the capitol of the Impressionist movement) to create art, consume drugs and alcohol, and generally wreak havoc,” according to writer and director John Charles Jopson.
The Absinthe Drinkers, which is “on track to begin in September,” will partially be shot in Tuscany, Italy where Peter Facinelli has become a citizen.
I spoke with Mr. Jopson, graduate of the Stella Adler Conservatory of Dramatic Arts and avante-garde aficionado in the directorial world, who wrote and will direct The Absinthe Drinkers about the up-coming film. His words only go to show his enthusiasm and dedication to this, a film which will surely be a favored and most-cherished masterpiece.
I asked Jopson what inspired him to write the story of The Absinthe Drinkers and to bring it to the film community. He said, “I’ve always been intrigued and fascinated by this period in history . . . There was such an immense creative explosion in music, painting, and literature – and, of course, this was concurrent with the Second Industrial Revolution. It was really the first time in western culture that the arts proliferated without the influence of religion or the aristocracy . . . But it was all run by men, and my story is about a woman. A woman in a man’s world.”
That woman, in The Absinthe Drinkers, is Artemesia von Rach, a woman who takes the mind and heart of Lucciola, played by Alicja Bachleda. This part, says Jopson, “is an extremely demanding role. The actress has to carry the film. She’s in just about every scene, and she has an epic character arc, from suppressed German woman in the Victorian era to a bohemian artist to a shattered soul.” About his choice of Bachleda for the role, Jopson said, “I wanted an actress who could play vulnerability, strength, defiance, and passion all within the context of a woman in a man’s world, yet with contemporary believability because that aspect of the story is also relevant today.”
About his relationship with actor Peter Facinelli, Jopson states that “Peter is a friend of my Casting Director Carol Lefko, and it was she who suggested he come read with the actresses for their auditions. Being the consummate actor that he is, Peter agreed and read the script. The first actress flaked out and didn’t show, so Peter just started doing Lucciola’s lines. He brought so much more to the character than I had ever even imagined – a whole level of edginess and danger. So, I rewrote the role for him. The only question was going to be the fire-eating because he’d have to do it for real.” Facinelli, who was originally offered a leading role, says Jopson, has a “love for Lucciola.” “Lucciola is not particularly attractive, so that’s added challenge for Peter. Lucciola is the sort of role that allows an actor to steal a film, and Peter just might do that.”
Jopson, who eventually employed the assistance of Facinelli in selecting his leading lady in the film, recounted the full story. Says he, “We initially looked at well over a hundred actresses, both known and unknown, and narrowed it down to ten or so for the final auditions. I had been very impressed with Alicja’s work in Trade (with Kevin Kline), a very difficult role that required a lot of interior monologue. I found her [to be] very believable. Alicja auditioned twice, once in Warsaw and a second time in L.A. with Peter and I, and she nailed it both times. Her quiet intensity was exactly what I was looking for. Plus she’s gorgeous. Wait till you see her in Ondine!” Bachleda will co-star with Colin Farrell in Ondine this year.
Jopson said that The Absinthe Drinkers “isn’t about absinthe per sé. The title comes from the many similarly titled paintings of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist period: Manet, Degas, Raffaelli, Picasso – they all made at least one painting with the title The Absinthe Drinker(s).”
On a personal note, Jopson explained that his “grandfather was a painter and his studio was a sort of playroom for me when I was a little brat. It was a magical world. My wife, Caroline Zimmermann, a very talent and successful painter, is creating the seventy-five-odd paintings for the film. After ten years of watching her work, I know that I can successfully portray an aspect of the creative process rarely seen in film . . . the authenticity of the brushstroke and the mixing of colours on the palette.”
Not only will The Absinthe Drinkers bring us this element of authenticity that John Charles Jopson’s personal experience in the world of artistry has afforded him, his own resume for excellence in musical film experiential accomplishment will lend to the film quite heavily. About the role of music in the picture, Mr. Jopson says that it “will be a huge part of the film, not just because of [his] background in music-oriented films, but also because the era and the story begs for it.” Continues Jopson, “In the Paris of the late 19th century, the composers and musicians hung out with the poets and the painters, and each discipline informed and infused the other. You can’t separate them.” About the selection of music to accompany and “infuse” into the story of The Absinthe Drinkers, Jopson states, “I’ve just been meeting with composers in London, and I can tell you the score is going to be unique and stunning.” Such artists, says Jopson, from Debussy and Erik Satie to Rammstein’s ballads, in “the scenes of debauchery” and “the fire-eating sequences,” are expected. “Rammstein,” says Jopson, is “my favourite band,” and “I’m hoping [they] will do a couple of tracks for us.” In addition, Nikolai Kinski, actor in the film who “is classically trained on the piano,” plays a “character [who] is a pianist who plays complex Satie-esque tunes in seedy cafes [and] we can use that to bring a certain reality to the moment and make one of the film’s musical themes present on screen as well.”
Mr. Jopson states that he is “very much looking forward to working with the exceptional ensemble . . . not just our star names but showing to the world what much of Europe is already aware of – the extraordinary talents of Alessio Boni, Gaetano Gaurino and Nikolai Kinski. Put those three next to Peter Facinelli and you’ve got enough heartthrob presence to start a riot. They’ll be like The Beatles of the 19th century.”
While production is still scheduled to begin this September, “It’s a difficult film to schedule because it can only be shot in spring or fall for story and weather-related reasons.” The story, Jopson says, takes place half in Paris and half in Florence and Tuscany. “Tuscan summers are just too hot for the heavy costumes, the sun’s at an unflattering angle, and no one in France or Italy works in August, so we have a very narrow window within which to juggle the schedules of a lot of busy actors.”
Yet to be announced, according to Jopson, are a major role as well as others which are currently attached to the film. In the meantime, it seems, we know that the talented Mr. Jopson, Carlo Dusi (producer, who also worked on Little Ashes, which stars another Twilight star Robert Pattinson), Peter Facinelli, Jurgen Prochnow, Alicja Bachleda, Nikolai Kinski, Alessio Boni, Pasquale Esposito, Gaetano Guarino, and Stefania Stefanin will all be a part of The Absinthe Drinkers.
While the release date for The Absinthe Drinkers is as yet unknown, one can be quite certain that it will be a film of consequence, beauty, thought, and talent. More information about the film can be found at its website (here).
Obwohl uns Alessio in Rom persönlich gesagt hat, dass der Film nicht gedreht wird, steht hier in einem Artikel vom 17.4., dass der Drehbeginn im Herbst (September??) sein wird, dass allerdings noch nicht feststünde, wann der Film dann herauskommt
Händeringen hält einen nur davon ab, die Ärmel aufzukrempeln.