The musical Annette arrives at Amazon Prime Video on Friday, August 20. Directed by Leos Carax and co-written by Ron & Russell Mael of the band Sparks, film stars Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard and Simon Helberg.
“Los Angeles, today. Henry (Adam Driver) is a stand-up comedian with a keen sense of humor who falls in love with Ann (Marion Cotillard), a world-famous opera singer, ”says the official synopsis. “In the spotlight, they make a passionate and glamorous couple. With the birth of her first child, Annette, a mysterious little girl with an extraordinary fate, her life is turned upside down. “
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ComingSoon editor-in-chief Tyler Treese spoke with Annette Star Simon Helberg on getting physical with Adam Driver, working with Sparks, and doing dramatic scenes with a doll. Check out the video below or read the full transcript.
Tyler Treese: Simon, how exciting was it as a musician to work with a legendary duo like Sparks?
Simon Helberg: First of all, what a coincidence, your setting. I don’t know if you know that, but I’m in this movie [laughs]. That’s great. I like it.
So how was it? Oh my God. Well, they are legends and they are just the cutest brothers I have ever met. It was a real honor. With that comes a bit of intimidation. Then you meet her and everything is washed away. They take such big swings and wrote a rock opera in the 2000s and here we are. It was made into a movie. That doesn’t happen often. That’s why I love to be part of an esoteric wild vision. That’s the most exciting thing for me. So yeah, I love Sparks. I love the Edgar Wright documentary. I hope everyone gets a chance to see this. So it was a thrill.
Yeah, it’s awesome. You have had such a diverse career starting with Mad TV. You’ve done so many comedies as an actor. How exciting was it to show your dramatic side here and also to be able to sing?
Well, it’s always very exciting for me to play different types of people and show different sides of myself. This offered that. I didn’t know how much it would be exactly. When I read it, I knew it was obviously a character that I had never played. It was a project like I’ve never done before, but until you’re there, like the conducting scene with the cameras around me, I didn’t imagine it to be like that. Otherwise I would be the genius that Leos is. So I understood what the story was and what depth it was. But when you see it then it’s amazing what he was able to do there. For me, I’m always looking to dig deeper. It’s true, I’ve done a lot of comedy and I think that people who tend to do comedy always want to try and show different sides of themselves. It usually comes from a place of darkness or despair. So sometimes it’s nice to wallow in it a little. Yes, that was a good opportunity to wallow.
In the film, Adam Driver throws you a bit confused. What was it like filming these physical scenes? He’s such a big man.
Yes. In any case, it was easy for him to pick me up. Too simple. I think at first I thought wait, don’t let go. I will land on the roof. For me he’s just a real hero of mine as an actor and has been for a long time and I’ve never met him or worked with him. He is very focused and very balanced and professional and caring. Then in the scenes when we roll he comes to life and the scene always comes to life in unexpected and exciting and somehow dangerous ways. So we really had to play in that scene. Much of it was choreographed, but a lot of it was bullet points. So you fall on the table, but between those moments and when you work with someone like him, you can really play and try different things. Great actors tend to uplift the people around them. So I hope I raised it and it definitely literally raised me up and I think creatively too.
What was it like working with the doll, working off such a strange object?
You know, I think the suspension of disbelief is important, not just for the audience, but also for the actors. We took it very seriously, so it didn’t exist … Well, in French, doll is called “la poupée”, which made it a little difficult to be serious at times, but nature has a kind of silliness, a doll. But then when you are there there is so much at stake in these scenes and they are so emotional that I actually found that it added an extra layer of what you as an audience or an actor bring into a moment, They project a lot on that face or on a blank board. We bring in our own experience.
So I thought it was amazing to have to operate the doll sometimes. It was like a tenderness because I actually had to try and take control of the puppet from these puppeteers. It was like it was their baby that they gave me and I had to kind of accept it and do the work that they had done all of their lives creating this creature. So there was a kind of parallel to taking care of a being or breathing life into a being. I found it kind of magical. I’ve never been like that I can’t work with this doll. I was kind of carried away.