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A break-up, an idol and work-life balance. How Mia Hansen-Love found 'Bergman Island'

Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

To be able to shoot on that fabled island was no easy feat. The film was originally set to go into production in the summer of 2018, with Greta Gerwig as Chris and John Turturro as Tony. When Gerwig, who had a small role in Hansen-Love's "Eden," had to drop out to direct her adaptation of "Little Women" shortly before shooting was to start, the production was left scrambling. (Turturro also fell out from the film at the same time.)

Having recently seen Vicky Krieps in Paul Thomas Anderson's "Phantom Thread," Hansen-Love reached out to the Berlin-based, Luxembourg-born actress to see if she was interested in stepping into the part. Hansen-Love and producer Charles Gillibert devised a plan to shoot the scenes with Wasikowsa and Danielsen-Lie, as well as whatever they could with Krieps, without actually casting the part of Tony.

Once Roth was eventually cast, those scenes were shot a full year later in 2019 to capture the same season on the island. The film was finished in time to premiere at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, but the pandemic delayed the premiere until Cannes 2021.

In a recent interview from Paris, Gillibert reflected on the unconventional production break. "To be honest, I'm not sure it was that rational," he said. "After all this work that Mia had started by going on the island, writing there, putting every piece together, with a great crew and it was pretty difficult to finance, I just didn't want to break that dynamic. And as the movie is truly cut in two parts, we had the possibility maybe to shoot this first part with the two actors we had there."

On bringing Krieps onto the project on very short notice, he said, "You have to meet somebody at the moment where everything is fast and very difficult to trust somebody. How do people trust each other in the craziest moment? But it was about keeping the energy and the dynamics."

Without much time to prepare, Krieps leapt into the project and the challenge of shooting scenes in which she was meant to be alone and reflecting on a relationship with a husband who had not yet been cast. She felt an immediate bond with Hansen-Love, and a mutual understanding of the emotional and logistical difficulties of being a working mother.

 

"I could feel this connection between the two of us," said Krieps, also while recently in New York, "sharing the same sensibility to life — being a mother, trying to also be an artist, which is very difficult to be a mother and to work and do your own thing.

"Many problems arise from this. In order to make a movie, we know what it takes beforehand to get out of the way that we can even just work," Krieps said. "So this is something we were sharing and we never had to talk about. It was really after making the movie that I amused myself and I started asking questions and saying, 'Is this how it was in your life?'"

Wasikowska referred to her portrayal of Amy — the imagined stand-in for Chris, who is in turn an imagined stand-in for Hansen-Love — as "an abstraction of an abstraction, an abstraction of Mia."

In a movie that deals with the slippery nature of identity and just a hint of persona-swapping, simply having two people on set named Mia also added something extra.

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