casting call - Hydra

News about Leonard Cohen and his work, press, radio & TV programs etc.
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LisaLCFan
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Re: casting call - Hydra

Post by LisaLCFan »

B4real wrote: Wed Mar 20, 2024 12:10 am ‘Oppenheimer’s’ Alex Wolff on ‘So Long, Marianne,’ a Series About How Leonard Cohen ‘Sacrificed Love on the Altars of Fame’...
It certainly sounds like Wolff did his homework -- should be interesting to see how he portrays Leonard.
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B4real
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Re: casting call - Hydra

Post by B4real »

Yes, Lisa, seems he's really thrown himself into the role and here's another link along the same lines -

Series Mania: Alex Wolff Shines as Leonard Cohen in ‘So Long, Marianne’

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/tv/tv ... 235857190/
In the first few minutes of his first Zoom casting call with actor Alex Wolff, Oystein Karlsen knew he had found his Leonard Cohen.

“He came on the screen like this,” the Norwegian director and screenwriter puts his hand over his face, with one eye poking out. “He said: ‘Sorry, I’m so hung over. I know I’m not going to get the role. I feel horrible.’ I thought: That’s Leonard!”

Karlsen already had his eye on Wolff to play the famously melancholic Canadian singer-songwriter in his new TV miniseries about Cohen and Marianne Ihlen, his great love, muse and the woman who inspired the song that gives the series its title: So Long, Marianne.

“I wanted a professional musician and singer because I wanted our Leonard to really sing, to really play Cohen’s music, to not have to fake that,” says Karlsen. “I knew Alex from his music [as part of the sibling pop duo Nat & Alex Wolff]. His mother’s an actress and writer. His father’s a pianist. So he comes from that same Cohen-like artistic background.”

Despite being separated from Cohen by a couple of generations, Wolff was deeply familiar with his work.

“Cohen is an integral part of music in general, so ‘Suzanne,’ ‘Hallelujah,’ ‘Bird on a Wire’ was all known to me, like Bob Dylan was,” Wolff says. “But his poetry was introduced to me when I was maybe 12, 13 when my brother gave me his Selected Works. Which is an amazing book, spanning from Let Us Compare Mythologies [published when Cohen was just 22] to much later works. So I was already a fan but what I going through at the time…well I think both Oystein and I needed Leonard at this time in our lives.”

“I’d just done three seasons of a series called Exit in Norway, which is about capitalism on steroids,” says Karlsen, jumping in. “It’s really, really cynical. I was offered to do season four but I said I just can’t. Because you sort of become what you write, and I felt telling a story about love — So Long, Marianne might not be a perfect love story but it is a love story — I felt telling this story would be a lifesaver.”

So Long Marianne, which had its world premiere at France’s Series Mania television festival, is a co-production between Canadian pay-TV channel Crave and Norway’s public broadcaster NRK. The eight-part series follows Cohen and Ihlen’s relationship in the 1960s, from its start as two 20-something expats escaping the world on the idyllic Greek island of Hydra to its end in New York, when Cohen, now a rising music star, turned away from her.

“I sacrificed my love on the altars of fame,” Cohen would say later.

The series has an impressive list of cameos and co-stars, including Peter Stormare (Fargo) as Canadian poet and Cohen mentor Irving Layton; Paddington 2‘s Noah Taylor and The Last of Us actor Anna Torv as George Johnston and Charmian Clift, the acclaimed Australian writers who set up a community for expat artists on Hydra; and The Crown actor Ben Lloyd-Hughes as Alan Ginsberg, one of the many writers who joined that bohemian community for the sex, the drugs and the inspiration.

But at the core of So Long, Marianne are Cohen and Ihlen. When we first meet them, Ihlen, played by Norwegian actress Thea Sofie Loch Ness (One Night in Oslo) is in a toxic relationship with her husband, Norwegian writer Alex Jensen (Ragnarok actor Jonas Strand Gravli), and struggling to raise their infant son. She begins an affair with the young Canadian poet who had come to Hydra on a whim.

“Cohen had quit university and escaped to London because he couldn’t bear working at his uncle’s factory in Montreal,” says Karlsen, “but it was miserable in London, it rained six months straight. So one day he goes into a bank and there’s this really tan, really happy, smiling guy behind the counter. He asks him: ‘How can you be so happy in rainy London?’ And he tells him: ‘I just came back from Greece, from Hydra.’ So Cohen took out all his money and booked a one-way ticket. There he met Marianne. And they were together 10 years. In that same period, he went from being a struggling poet to becoming a superstar.”

Artistic biopics can be treacherous, especially for figures as well-known and beloved as Leonard Cohen. Many veer between bland mimeography and slavish hagiography. So Long, Marianne manages to avoid these perils by treating its subjects not as great artists in the making, but as ordinary messed-up 20-somethings. It’s set in the ’60s but, were it not for the lack of cellphones and social media, So Long Marianne could be a portrait of Gen Z.

“I think we overly divvy up generations and time periods: the ’60s, the ’70s, whatever,” says Wolff. “This is just about people and they’re struggling. They don’t have any money. They’re on this island and they’re trying to figure out who they are. They’re all in pain and looking for family, looking for sex and drugs and looking for recognition, for some meaning. That’s not a generational thing. I think the reason people love Leonard is because he spoke about loneliness. He spoke about suicide. He spoke about these darker things in a way that was entertaining. Things that everyone is dealing with. That they’ve always been dealing with it and that they always will deal with.”

Wolff spent a year and a half “becoming Leonard,” working on Cohen’s soft, slow voice with its Montreal-flavored lilt, on the “Cohen slouch” — in nearly every scene, Wolff’s body seems off-kilter as if the room is tilting around him — down to minute details like Cohen’s style of playing guitar, his handwriting, even the size shoes he wore.

“I think I did everything I could. At certain points, it got disgusting the amount I threw myself at it because it felt really good to allow him into my emotional orbit,” said Wolff. “But I think it’s boring to talk about, honestly, it only really matters if it works, you know?”

It does work. Wolff’s performance as Cohen goes beyond cover band imitation to feel lived in. He wears his Leonard like a rumpled raincoat. The series truly comes alive in the moments when Wolff sings, as Cohen, on camera.

“That’s all me singing, all me playing,” says Wolff. “I’m not a studied actor, I really don’t know what I’m doing, so I really had to kind of…well like Leonard said, If you don’t become the ocean, you’ll be seasick every day. So eventually, I just said fuck it, I’ll give everything to it. Oystein said to me: ‘Do you want to be Canadian all the time? Do you want to be singing in this? Do you want to smoke real cigarettes? And the answer was yes to all three of those.”

Karlsen received the blessing of the Cohen family for his series — they were consulted at all stages in the development — and So Long, Marianne uses several of Cohen’s songs throughout.

But much of the dialogue in So Long, Marianne was improvised, with Wolff drawing on hours of interviews with Cohen and “every single line” he wrote, whether as a song lyric, a poem, or in one of his novels.

“Reading the words, they start to become your words, and they feel so delicate, so precise and elegant, it feels so good, it tastes good to say them. If there was ad-libbing [in the series] it was never to say a Cohen thing, it was more to just feel your way into it. I don’t want to sound kumbaya about it, but [this part] was so large for me, this whole thing, that it’s hard to talk about,” says Wolff. “Once, when Leonard was asked to talk about his poetry, he said: ‘You might as well just be reading the instructions from a can of shoe polish. It’s about what you do with your voice, your body.’ And I kind of feel that way too [about my performance]. You might as well just be reading from a shoe polish can. You just have to kind of feel the thing and that’s enough.”
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lizzytysh
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Re: casting call - Hydra

Post by lizzytysh »

This is such a beautiful and interesting interview. I wonder if I'll ever have access to the series.
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
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