French actress Nomi Merlant may have gotten her big break in a 2019 French historical drama Portrait of a woman on fire — which recently made Sight and Sound’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time — but she made waves for her performance this year. Tar, in which he played Cate Blanchett’s personal assistant to famed conductor Lydia Tarr. Actually, Tar It was Merlant’s first American production and first English-language film.
The actress says that director Todd Field had seen Merlant’s previous films and sent her the script THR. Immediately, Merlant is drawn to Francesca because of her sensitive character. “I had to read it a couple of times because it was so complicated [English-speaking] people There are a lot of details, so I had to read it a couple of times to understand everything,” says the actress. “And I loved it. It was so powerful, so intense, because it was [forces you to ask] Ask yourself so many questions about things we all struggle with. And it doesn’t give you a moral answer, but it makes you go through such deep, deep feelings about the dynamics of energy and the process of creation.
Adds Merlant: “I loved my role. To me, without saying too much or showing too much, she is always in the shadows and she represents a woman who wants to live her passion. But right now, she just serves the coffee and she just watches and waits — and maybe waits for nothing.
She says she didn’t need to prepare much for her role as Francesca never touches an instrument in the film, as Francesca tries to stay in her lane, but wants to build her career as a conductor. Preparing with Blanchett herself, Merlant describes her as very forthcoming and helpful in the process.
“She was amazing,” Merlant says. “We did some rehearsals before shooting. She really was [available to me]. She had a lot of work to do: there were languages [she had to learn], orchestra items, instruments. I don’t know how she did it. But she had time to rehearse our scene, talk about it, talk about our characters, find a way to touch each other, because [our characters have] Having known each other for a long time in the film, we had to find a way to show things like complicity and at the same time a little distance that she really doesn’t want me anymore. And at the same time, there is respect. ”
Although the 34-year-old has more than 40 credits to her name, she says it’s time to work. Tar It taught her a lot about the industry — lessons she says inspired her to write a new screenplay, which she plans to start shooting next year.
“I learned so much watching Kate’s process and Todd, as the director, created this atmosphere on set. [that’s] Really interesting, and I really liked it,” he says, adding that making a film about a creative person has inspired him to respect his own ambitions, but also the collaborative process necessary to achieve them.
“You have to take some time to realize the respect for others or all of this, and sometimes, you can lose yourself, like Lydia does,” says Merlant. “So maybe, in my head, I thought, ‘We can do something amazing without any pressure.’ I remember when I started, a lot of directors were like, ‘You have to really push with the actors. [get] The feeling you’re looking for. But it actually means you don’t trust the actor. You don’t need to: You don’t need to be disrespectful to get something interesting for the camera.
This story first appeared in the December stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, Click here to subscribe.