Leonardo Sbaraglia: "At school they should teach us to face pain"

There are actors who can with everything. There is no challenge from which they do not come out well. Leonardo Sbaraglia is one of them. It doesn't matter if the paper is small, there is your scene in pain and glory to prove. He is a performer who likes challenges, triple somersaults without a net. A risk that he has made that in his filmography there are films like Burnt Silver, Intact or In the city without limits. The last of those jumps is called Love Me, a film in which he appears in each and every one of the planes and in which he physically and emotionally undresses to give life to a broken man.

Leonardo Brzezicki's second film is an X-ray of a person without emotional tools. He glues his camera to Sbaraglia's body as he hangs out at parties full of sex and alcohol while trying to fix his life and his relationship with her mother, his daughter and his ex-boyfriend. An interpretation that is always on the edge but that he manages to control at all times with a job reminiscent of Michael Fassbender's in Shame and for who has won the award for Best Actor at the Malaga Film Festival

How did you get to this risky project?

Super risky. The script was first seen by my agent, who is my friend and I have been working with him since 1995. He read it before and told me "there is a script that I want you to read". He didn't want to tell me, he wanted me to read it. He was very insistent. And then, on the other hand, a casting director friend calls me, Diego Lerman writes to me, another casting director writes to me, and everyone tells me "read that script, it's worth it." Luckily, many scripts arrive and many times you don't have time to read all of them and I loved this one. They gave me doubts, because I said, "how to do this". It's great, but who's going to do it. I didn't know the director, he had previously made a film, La noche, which was quite experimental and I hadn't seen it and wanted to meet him. We met, I had a coffee, he came very nervous, like my character, very anxious. We talked about Cassavetes and he wanted to give him some of that narrative aesthetic and, saving the distance, he told me about Gena Rowlands. I liked how I saw the character and there I said "let's go forward". My question was the timing, because I had committed to the Amazon Maradona series and was in Italy filming, but I had a month and we made it.

It's in every shot of the film, is it difficult to bear the weight of the entire film?

Sometimes it is even better to always be there, because you know that you are running the film. You know that you narrate it. You have a lot of knowledge of what you are threading. When you have a character like that, with all the scenes, which has happened to me more times like In the city without limits, well, there you go threading, you know what the last seam is, the last point to continue. You handle the narration and that's very nice. I love when I get a character like that and this was a gift, but it's difficult for them to touch you, with this risk. I am very grateful to have had a character like that, especially because there are fewer and fewer films like this one, so personal. It is a very personal film by the director, a film that is part of a wound. It is what art has, the possibility of healing the wound, of healing it, and from my acting position I felt with the possibility of healing that wound through this film and that seemed sacred to me.

Your character is lost and seeks to feel loved all the time. Do you think that society pushes us to be in a relationship?

I hadn't thought about it from that place... I really don't know how we are now in that sense... I think that, from my perception, people are quite alone, very alone. There is something in the system that leads us to self-satisfaction, as if we could always satisfy ourselves, as if we didn't need the other. Look at the social networks, it seems that you can take your photo, you want to have followers, have your own business... At least in Argentina this happens, that the networks have become everything. I just think it's the opposite, that things work when one can relax, stop and meet the other, with a team, with a common project.

You mentioned that the film is born from a director's wound and that the cinema can heal it. Has it helped you to heal any wound as well?

Obvious. Yes, of course. I get the feeling, and I don't want to sound pretentious or pedantic, but my feeling is that sometimes you have an opportunity to pick up a character and have that character dialogue with you and help you deal with something personal, with a personal wound. Sometimes you don't even know what that fear or that emptiness is, but it is there. We are also our pain. It is like that, we are our fears and nobody teaches us to face that and they should teach us at school to love ourselves, to face the void.

In the film, there is a moment in which your character argues with his partner and points to the class difference as an element of dispute, do you think these are issues that affect relationships?

Leo, the director, told us a lot that Santiago, my character, is not psychoanalyzed. He is a self-made boy, who has left a neighborhood, with an elementary education, without many resources and without emotional tools and he immediately feels inferior in front of his ex-partner and tells him so, but in reality we could say that the one who objectively is more focused is the other. Santiago can become unbearable, it is intolerable because he does not tolerate himself and, if one does not tolerate himself and does not love himself… Santiago cannot bear to be alone.

The film will be released in theaters here, but in Latin America on HBO. You have now starred in an Amazon series… how do you experience this moment of paradigm shift in the industry?

One seeks, in principle, to have a job. Like everyone. Have a continuity. And, in that sense, the platforms have expanded the work. There are more alternatives. Everything that is happening is strange because the movies no longer go through the normal circuit. Before you knew that you premiered in theaters and to see how many people went. Now you know that 80,000 people go to the cinema and then five million will see it on a platform, and that is a reality. Somehow, the platforms were able to absorb what was piracy five years ago. There is still piracy, but that business was taken over, and they began to organize, collect and have some income from something that happened. With the pandemic, everything has intensified and people are not going back to the movies. They only watch Batman again, but auteur movies or more modest or smaller ones, maybe people say: "I watch it at home." And it's a shame, because cinema is cinema, and it's not going to stop being a ritual, just like theater. I hope that never gets lost. At the same time, I think that it is seen much more but I also think that the platforms are replacing the television networks, at least in Argentina I feel that way. Look at the soap operas, which are now on the platforms. Look Coffee with the aroma of a woman. Let's see what all this is.

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