In The Hand of God by Paolo Sorrentino, Filippo Scotti plays Fabietto the fictional and adolescent alter ego of Paolo Sorrentino himself. Interview with a rising star of Italian cinema.
This is her first leading role in a feature film. And for the first time, it is a success. In addition to having the privilege of playing under the direction of Paolo Sorrentino, Filippo Scotti plays the director, when he was a teenager in Naples in the 80s. In The Hand of God, the young man delivers a flawless performance.
Allociné: How did you get this role?
Filippo Scotti: I met Paolo Sorrentino a year ago during the auditions. And I didn’t know at the time that I was casting for one of his films. But I guessed it because the scenes were very well written and touching.
After four or five tries, Paolo Sorrentino told me he wanted me to be the main character. It scared me a bit but he asked me to follow him and trust him.
When did you know that Fabietto’s role is actually that of Paolo Sorrentino himself?
I understood immediately that it was Paolo. Also because there was a detail in the first email he sent me. Usually when we receive an email for an audition, we are asked to take off our earrings, change our look and shave our beard.
But in this case, it was appropriate to cut the beard but not the sideburns. And at that moment of the sudden, as I was a little stressed, I started to imagine with my sister that the role is that of young Paolo.
Was it a form of pressure? Having to play Paolo young? How to manage it?
I felt the pressure, yes. The day after the last audition, when he told me “I want you in the movie“, I did a reading with Toni Servillo, Teresa Saponangelo [qui jouent les parents de Fabietto, ndlr] and Paolo. At one point, I went to the balcony and Paolo joined me. I tell him “Are you really sure? Maybe it’s better to think a little bit because I’m not sure I’m going to get there.“And he answered me”Trust, trust.“
It is not common to interpret the director of the film. How did you prepare for this role?
The preparation was quick and easy. He advised me not to fix myself on the dialogues of the scenario, to arrive well prepared on the set at the level of the succession of scenes. And especially not to project myself too much on what I was going to do with all these words, but to wait on the set for the emotions that were going to arrive in order to be able to express them when the time came.
Did you question Paolo directly to better understand the character?
No, it is not my task. I try to understand the character and not Paolo as he is today. In the scenario, it is Fabietto the main character and not Paolo. I never asked him why he put that distance, but it allowed me to keep my distance from the person who inspired him.
What did you like the most about this project?
In the script, I liked everything. Because it’s rare to read such a well-written screenplay. For me, it was already wonderful to have such clear ideas just by reading the text, to have the chance to be able to receive this text.
This scenario is so rich that there are not many questions to ask. When he is on the set, he does not speak much. And when he speaks, he gives precise indications which really allow us to move forward, which get to the point.
How did you manage to play Fabio, to find his body language?
Paolo advised me to watch Sam Mendes’ Paths of Perdition and to watch Jude Law’s approach in the film.
What was the most difficult?
The scene with Capuano [le réalisateur qui a initié Sorrentino au cinéma, ndlr] and the first scene we shot was the scene at the bank with the father played by Toni Servillo, but because it was the first day actually. And the scene with the Baronesse [jouée par Betty Pedrazzi, ndlr].
Your favorite scene to shoot?
The family scene. It was very funny. We shot this scene over four days. It was wonderful.
Interview conducted in Paris on October 12, 2021