D.Two days after the chat, a WhatsApp arrives. “Thinking about the character, I wanted to add something: Nora has a ferocious thrust inside that convinces her to rebel, to no longer accept a role or a destiny already written. To find his happiness, whatever it takes. Urgencies that have accompanied every woman from always, and still today “. Isabella Ferrari has been on stage for almost forty years – Oh yeah, Taste of sea it’s from 1983 – yet interviews have not become a tired routine. Weighing the words, she acts as a counterbalance to herself as she speaks (“Because then, when I reread what I said, I see a completely resolved one, and I am not like that: there is a constant effort, an underground work, a lot of will”). And he continues to question himself even after.
Isabella Ferrari, finally bad!
Of course, his role in Let’s rob the Duce – streaming on Netflix – lends itself particularly to the game of mirrors: Nora is a well-known actress, just like her. End of analogies, however: we are not in 1945, his husband is not a fascist hierarch who humiliates her (and betrays her with Matilda De Angelis) but the director of the film, Renato De Maria. “I’ve been dreaming of playing a bad role for a long time! This diva of the Telefoni Bianchi does not passively accept either marital infidelity or professional crisis, on the contrary: she goes on the attack with ruthlessness “explains Isabella who, after filming the Rai series Six women (a psychological thriller with Maya Sansa), is already with Elio Germano and Vittoria Puccini on the set of Confidence by Daniele Luchetti, from the novel by Domenico Starnone.
The first scene is cruel: she, with her face covered by a beauty mask, looks pathetically in a film shot as a young man …
How did you react when your husband proposed this part to you?
For starters, Renato asked me to audition, which is a bit different (laughs). He had written with this in mind Avenue of the sunsetbut without thinking of me.
On what affinities with Nora did you “lean” to interpret it?
We have almost nothing in common, apart from the profession. I could not start from the feeling of being in the descending parable: despite my age, I often work with thirty-year-olds and I feel part of a generation that is not mine. And I couldn’t use loneliness as a key: I have a full life as a mother of three children, a wife, and I have many friends.
Don’t you even share a vague fear for the future of your career?
Honestly no, it is an anxiety that has never belonged to me: being a daughter of the earth, my feet are firmly planted, it comes naturally to me to stay in the present. And I don’t have the cult of my image. On set they make fun of me for not going to check myself on the monitor after a scene. Seeing myself in any film, then, bores me. I am freed from what I have done, from what I am, from what others see of me… Wow! I just don’t care.
Has it always been like this or is it the result of a journey?
Certainly a path, but involuntary. In my life I have never sat down – unfortunately – to decide. There are “crutches” that I have been missing (the preparation gives you the strength not to collapse in situations) and, going back, I would try to fix it. Attending an acting school, for example (at the age of fifteen she won a beauty contest, to land directly on TV in two years and on the big screen in three years, ed).
Maybe the naïveté can prove to be an advantage: she even won the Volpi Cup at the Venice Film Festival for A poor young man’s novel by Ettore Scola.
I owe a lot to the directors: in the absence of an academic background, I built my identity with their contribution. They gave me a series of indelible sequences.
Carlo Vanzina the scene of the flag-stealing of Taste of sea. Ferzan Ozpetek’s promenade Saturn against. Paolo Sorrentino the joke of The great beauty (“What work do you do?”. “I’m rich”). And now Renato’s Nora …
Isabella Ferrari and Renato De Maria, spouses on the set
What’s it like sharing the set with your husband?
We have an autonomous life when we shoot: I need my space. I like to do half an hour of yoga every morning and I’m better off sleeping in a hotel room alone (laughs).
A recipe that works. With this film you are at four: Hotel Fear, Love me, The obscene life.
In 2000 there was also the tv with Police District. Renato took me there, I accepted only and exclusively for love. I did not believe it, I did not want to enter the television screen: at the time it did not happen to see a film actress who devoted herself to a long series. But it turned out to be important for my career, my most intense acting workshop. Love meinstead, it’s a love letter written thinking of me.
With a good rate of eroticism, which generally does not do well for couples. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman separated later Eyes Wide Shut.
(smiles) No problem, just satisfaction. I keep meeting women who confess to me how precious it was for their rebirth.
Was the set convict in the beginning?
No. We met thirty years ago thanks to the father of my eldest daughter (the entrepreneur and stylist Massimo Osti, ed). It is the fairly classic story of a friendship that is born in the family and of a bond that is born within another family. So a lot of stuff: difficult decisions to make and a complex situation to manage, having the desire to keep everyone together. Somehow we succeeded: when Massimo passed away, in 2005, it was a great collective mourning. In this amour foucrazy, huge, Renato and I were not bound by working in the same environment, but by having – in the suitcase we arrived with – the same things.
What was there, exactly?
There was the earth (I’m from near Piacenza, Renato di Bologna); a family not bourgeois or intellectual, but of simple workers, who struggled to get by. And the incredible curiosity: it is curiosity – together with the freedom that we carry in our DNA – that unites us most.
Some examples of “freedom in the DNA”?
We only collaborate when there is an opportunity that amuses us. I hardly ever go to the set when he’s busy with something, and vice versa. I played roles that could make him jealous, but Renato is never jealous, I can come up with anything (laughs).
And she? She is jealous?
No, I don’t know that kind of feeling, just as I don’t know envy: my friends are the most beautiful women in the world (Valeria Golino and Monica Bellucci, among others, ed) and sometimes they make much more beautiful films than the ones I make. I … I don’t care.
The best years of his life?
For my character, I answer: now. It is a wonderful moment, after going through phases of failure: I have overtaken with age and I am totally credible as a mother. Until ten years ago I was not, although I was already a mother. I learned not to complain, to be a little happy with myself. Gratitude, acceptance, self confidence are the key words today.
The secret of this balance?
Every morning when you are about to wake up, thoughts float, the truth about what you care about floats. No’s float, yeses float… An instinct to stay “inside you” that you lose during the day. Here: I think I have built a lot simply by staying in touch with my real needs. Years of analysis have helped me to get hooked on the things that I throw down in the notebook on the bedside table with my eyes still half closed. Speaking of eyes: that shadow of sadness, of melancholy from his gaze is not erased. By now I have understood that it is the downward shape and I will not resort to botox to modify it. We women have freed ourselves from the dictatorship of corsets and we self-impose others. No, I’m not there. And, anyway, that involuntary shadow of malaise has benefited my career, many have recognized themselves …
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