Rodrigo Teixeira represents Brazil in Cannes – 05/21/2022 – Illustrated

Saved by viewing restored copy of “God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun”there are no Brazilian feature films in the official program of Cannes film festival this year, but the country has a certain presence with “Armageddon Time”, new feature film by American James Grayfrom “Once Upon a Time in New York” and “Z: The Lost City”.

Behind the film, which is competing for the Palme d’Or, is the producer from Rio Rodrigo Teixeirawhich has been behind the scenes of other international titles, in the case of “Call Me By Your Name”nominated for an Oscar in 2018, and who also worked with Gray on science fiction “Ad Astra”with Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones.

But with “Armageddon Time,” Gray and Teixeira are working on a much smaller, more intimate scale. The feature film, in autobiographical inks, recalls the director’s early adolescence in the New York district of Queens, in the early 1980s, when the United States entered the Reagan era, marked by militaristic pride and a decline in investments in the public sector.

It is in this scenario that we find Paul Graff, played by Banks Repeta, who lives with his family of descendants of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine, led by the patriarch, the grandfather lived by Anthony Hopkinsand formed also by their parents, roles of Jeremy Strong and Anne Hathaway.

At the public school where Paul studies, he befriends Johnny, a black boy played by Jaylin Webb, in a relationship that will open up the prejudices of American society and his own family.

Rodrigo Teixeira launches “Armageddon Time” as he faces a lawsuit brought by Luiz Mussnich, a businessman who accuses him of having acted with a lack of transparency with investors and operating a financial pyramid scheme. The lawsuit was filed in California, where Teixeira-based production company RT Features also operates.

You have spoken very fondly of this project for years. When and how did it happen?
This is a project that was actually born out of a conversation during lunch on the set of “Ad Astra: To the Stars”. I questioned James [Gray] what we were going to do next and he said he would like to make a film about the Russian revolution. He is the grandson of Ukrainians, he is fascinated by this era and we really like the “Reds” [dirigido por Warren Beatty, de 1981]. And then we embarked on the post-production of the film, I went to take care of the pre-production of “Lighthouse” and James called me. He wanted to make me an offer and told me that he didn’t want to talk about the revolution yet, but about his childhood. And when James Gray asks you to make a suggestion, you stop to listen.

One of the main characters in “Armageddon Time” is a boy who was James Gray’s childhood friend. It’s real?
Yes, he gave me details about the relationship he had with this boy, who had a tragic end of life, got himself into a lot of trouble. James eventually lost touch with him entirely, but he remembered a lot about how racism and class structure in Reagan’s America had shaped that relationship. And then he also told me that he went to school at Trump’s father’s school, he said that the donald trump went to the door to intimidate the students. And I told us to make the movie. We started working on the script in 2019 and in January we already had the first treatment. The pandemic delayed filming and it only started in October 2021.

How has the pandemic impacted the film, beyond the delay?
It was strange because when we started filming in October, I had to apply for a special permit to enter the United States. So with this work permit, I didn’t have to quarantine myself, but I did three Covid tests before I could go on set. But the situation, before the omicron, was already more lenient there. So there was an impact in terms of logistics and also in the Covid cost, an additional expense that we had to include in the price of the film.

How did you arrive at the cast of the film, with Anthony Hopkins, Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong, who is having a moment of rise with “Succession”?
Anne was in the cast from the start, but initially we would also have Robert De Niro, Oscar Isaac and Cate Blanchett. When we went to the movies, DeNiro had a scheduling problem and the studio asked us for someone of the same level. Anthony Hopkins had already flirted with James and so he was cast. Oscar Isaac had just finished the “Moon Knight” series and wanted to rest for a while, so we proposed to Jeremy and the studio immediately accepted. And Cate Blanchett couldn’t come on set to shoot for just two days, so we had the jessica Dark blond, in a participation that we do not even announce. The cast ended up with actors devoid of bad humor and the cool thing is that Anne is perhaps the most film-loving actress I’ve ever worked with. She was talking about movies on the same level as James Gray.

You often say that you appreciate the Hollywood era where directors had more creative freedom. What was your job as a producer on this film?
James Gray often listens a lot at the script stage and enjoys debating structure. But since it’s a film about his life, sometimes we argued and he said “but it happened like that!”. Now, on set, it’s something else. It’s hard to teach a lesson James Gray. There, the role of the producer is just to see if the director executes what was in the deal. I went to learn more. See Anthony Hopkins play, see Jeremy Strong’s special method…

What is Jeremy Strong’s special method?
He transforms, he enters the character. He managed to do a voice exactly like James Gray’s. He managed to really turn into a character.

Now, this film comes out at a time when accusations of financial pyramids are emerging against you. Do you think it can affect you or the film?
What surrounds this case is a non-agreement in relation to projects. We disagreed and the case ended up in court. But there was a hype around it, with the clear purpose of defaming me. But the way I solve it is with work. It is work that proves dignity. The process, I leave to the lawyers to discuss.

Speaking of new projects, do you plan to tour again with James Gray? What are your new projects?
I just filmed with Marco Dutra [diretor de “As Boas Maneiras”]. I have a co-production with Walter Salles. And I should soon release a new film by Aly Muritiba [de “Deserto Particular”]. Among the internationals, the newcomer of the director of “Pig”, Michael Sarnoski, should be released. And with director Prano Bailey-Bond, a titled “Things We Lost in the Fire.”

Any news with James Gray?
This one is not quite mature yet. But it’s going to be a big surprise when I announce the title.

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