‘The Forgiven’ explores the haves and have-nots – Metro Philadelphia

By María Estévez, MWN

Based on Lawrence Osborne’s 2012 novel of the same name, “The Forgiven” stars Jessica Chastain, Ralph Fiennes, Matt Smith and Said Taghmaoui. Chastain and Fiennes play as a wealthy couple who travel to Morocco for a weekend of debauchery at the sprawling desert estate of a friend (Smith). They accidentally hit and kill a young boy with the car, but consider it only a minor inconvenience. The boy’s father, a Berber tribal leader, quickly discovers what has happened and asks David de Fiennes, who was driving, to accompany him to his camp in the desert to bury the boy. David reluctantly follows him, knowing full well that his life is in danger.

Metro spoke with Chastain to find out more.

A big part of your success as an actress is in the characters you play. They are very different from each other.

I want to believe that feelings are contagious. I like the challenge, to the point of considering myself a masochist. I don’t know what attracts me to a character, but I feel the need to take a total risk when I play. When I play, I’m so reckless that I think I can do anything. I understand that there are a lot of unemployed actors and I, who am privileged, have to give the best of myself.

It seems that you enjoy completely changing your physical appearance or traveling to distant places.

In our industry, we celebrate men who take risks while women are valued for their looks. I’ve built a career playing unlovable characters. I completely agree. And, also, I find that pretending that we don’t all have flaws and that we make mistakes and that we’re selfish and ambitious is what it is to be human. We are not always selfless and full of integrity and honor.

Is it difficult for you to shoot in remote places?

I like shooting in remote places, it’s part of my job. We actually shot ‘The Forgiven’ where the novel and the screenplay take place. It was so authentic and I don’t know how you can recreate that anywhere else. We drove home every night and there were people selling fossils on the road. We were really part of that environment, and for me, that just helped tell the story.

Your character Jo is not very likeable. Tell us more about her.

We tell a story of privilege. I don’t think all the characters have to be the same. I like the challenge of playing someone who shouldn’t be liked. I find it sad to tell stories when nothing is happening, when there is no drama or challenge. When you are only told the stories of people so far removed from human beings, especially women. I find female characters who can do things that go against what society expects of a woman, that for me is a very exciting thing to play. So, yes, I was very happy to play Jo.

Were you looking forward to working with Ralph Fiennes again?

Yes. He’s one of my favorite actors and this time our characters like each other at least a little. In the Shakespearean drama ‘Coriolanus’ we play a married couple who don’t really get along. This time around, they’re a couple on the verge of divorce, but at least they have a more polite history. I was joking with him and said, next time we work together, please let’s be friends, or at least let’s be married people who really love each other.

Why do you like working with Ralph?

He feels effortless to be in the scenes because he’s so open. Her inspiring presence makes it all so easy, and then there’s a flow. Yes, I love working with Ralph. Hopefully in the future we end up playing characters who really love each other because we’ve had two very difficult marriages on our hands.

How is this film about the class?

The book and the film really explore a class system, gender roles and racism. It also shows the idea that if people have money they think they can go anywhere and do anything without the ramifications. Unfortunately, they are very wrong.

Do you feel in a strong position now?

People definitely treat me differently now because I’ve done and produced a lot of movies. But I wouldn’t be where I am without my team. They help me focus on the things that matter to me.

‘The Forgiven’ is in theaters now.

About Wesley V. Finley

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