About two years ago Levi had an epiphany. He would switch gender roles. Awoman leaving marriage and child in search of freedom (with a very sexy Israeli entrepreneur in place of a guest professor position) can always provoke conversation and interest.
So the original Marianne and Johan became Mira and Jonathan, with a Boston suburb (recreated in a warehouse just north of New York), replacing the Stockholm of the original. Jonathan remains an academic although Mira, a lawyer in the original, is now a businesswoman who earns him more.
The casting has begun early 2020. After Isaac meets Levi, he otes Chastain to tell him about the project. She was not available. The producers chose Michelle Williams. But the pandemic has reshuffled everyone's schedules. When production was ready to resume, Williams was no longer free. Chastain was. "It was for me the most incredible miracleble "said Levi.
Isaac and Chastain met in the early 2000s at Juilliard. He was in his first year; she, in his third. He first saw her in a scene from a classical tragedy, slapping men as Helen of Troy. He was friends with her then boyfriend, and they quickly became friends with themselves, bonding through the shared trauma of an acting program designed to break up her students, then rebuild them. Isaac remembered her as a real one. force of nature and solid, completely solid, with an incredible amount of integrity "he said.
In the next window, Chastain blushes. "He was super talented, " she said. "But talented in an unexpected way, it 's challenging and going against constructions and ideas. "She introduced him to her manager, and they celebrated theirfirst successes and went to their premieres. (Some of these photos are used in "Scenes From a Marriage " as backdrop.)
In 2013, Chastain was cast in "The most violent year, facing Javier Bardem. When Bardem dropped out, Chastain campaigned for Isaac to have the role. A few weeks before filming, they had started to meet, telling the stories of their characters - a husband and wife trying to grab the heating oil market in 1981 in New York - details of marriage, business, life.
It was the first time they had worked together, and each felt a deeper connection than a parallel education and approach. "Something connect It 's us who are more fort than any idea of a character or a story or whatever, ”Isaac said. "There is something else that looks more like a shared existence.
Chandor noticed how they supported each other on the set and challenged each other too, giving each other the freedom to take the characters' relationship to dark and dangerous places. "They have this innate trust in each other " said Chandor.
This trust has eliminated the need for tricks or shortcuts to actor, in part because they know each other's tricks too well. Their motto, said Isaac, was: "Let's figure out this [expletive] together and see what the most honest thing we can do.
Moni Yakim, Juilliard's famous movement instructor, followed their careers closely and noted what he called the "magnetism and spiritual connection" they suggested on screen in the film. Image The cast weren't prepared for the emotional intensity of filming the show." I knew I was having problems from week one, "Chastain said. Credit ... Jojo Whilden / HBO
"It 's kind of chemistry ", Yakim said. "They can read each other's minds and you as an audience can feel it. "
Telepathy takes work. When they heard that the shooting of "Scenes From a Marriage " could begin, Chastain purchased a copy of the title " All About Us ", a guided diary for couples, and filled in its sections in the character of Mira. Isaac took it home and showed it to his wife, the director Elvira Lind.
" She was like, 'You finally found your match ' ", Isaac remembers. " 'Someone as big a nerd as you. ' "
The cast rehearsed, with Levi and alone, talking through each long scene, helping each other through the anguished parts. When the production had to s 'stop for two weeks, they also rehearsed.
Seeing these actors work reminded Amy Herzog, writer and executive producer of the series, Racehorses at full gallop. “These are two people who have so much training and skills,” she said. "Because it 'sa sporting achievement, which they were asked to do.
But the training and the skills and the book "All About Us " didn't really prepare Les for the emotional impact of filming "Scenes From a Marriage ". The two actors normally compartmentalize themselves when working, establishing psychic partitions between their roles and themselves. But this time the partitions weren't up to the code.
"I knew I was having problems from week one", Chastain said.
She couldn't do thisdear how saints affected her, especially to someone who knew her as well as Isaac. "I felt so exposed," she said. "This for me, more than anything I 've ever worked on, was certainly the most open I have ever been.
"It was so dangerous," she said.
I visited the plateau in February (after several Covid tests- 19 and health screenings) on one last day of filming. It was the calmest setting I have ever seen: the atmosphere was subdued, almost respectful, a team and a studio reduced to what two actors would need to do the most passionate and demanding job of their careers.
Isaac was unsure if he would watch the completed series . "It 's really the very first time I ever do something where I'm going very well never to see that thing ", he said.he declares. "Because I really lived it. And in some ways, I don't want what they decide to put in place to change my experience, which was so intense. "
The cameras captured this intensity. While Chastain is not Mira and Isaac is not Jonathan, each was inspired by the personal experience - their parents' marriages, past relationships - in ways they've never had. Sometimes the work on the show felt like acting, and sometimes the work didn't. 'was not even conscious. There is a scene in the heartbreaking fourth episode in which they are both lying on the floor, an identical stress vein bulgi ng in each forehead.
"This is my favorite move, the throbbing vein of the forehead " Isaac said during a follow-up video call last month. Chastain riffed on the joke: " It was our third year at Juilliard, the throb.
At that point, it had been five months since filming had finished. Life had returned to something normal. Jokes were possible again. Both seemed more cowardly, more relaxed. (Isaac had already used a dose of tequila and was ready for another.) No one cried.
Chastain had watched the show with her husband. And Isaac, despite his initial reluctance, had looked at him as well. It doesn't seem to have changed his experience.
"I 've never done anything like this " he said. "And I can't imagine doing something like this again.