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BERLIN — Max von Sydow and Thomas Horn, two actors at the opposite ends of the age and experience spectrum, shared a rapturous reception from the world’s media as acclaimed British helmer Stephen Daldry‘s Oscar-nominated Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close unspooled during the Berlinale.
But it was Horn who caused jaws to drop with an assurance and confidence beyond his young years when handling questions about acting, the social implications of playing the role of Oskar Schell, a boy whose father dies in one of the Twin Towers on 9/11 and working with acting legend von Sydow.
Horn, whose previous acting experience amounted, in his own words, to “playing a grasshopper in the school play,” described Daldry and von Sydow as being “fun to work with.”
He also said it all got much easier when acting in the movie’s scenes with Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock.
“The other actors worked so hard and were so prepared it was easy for me to play off them — I didn’t have to work so hard,” Horn said. “I could have been intimidated by them, but they were so kind and generous and really helped me understand my character.”
Von Sydow described Horn as being “profoundly prepared” for the movie. “I was very impressed,” he said.
But it was in the wake of a long, rambling opinion dressed up as a question put to Daldry about the last segment of the movie diminishing the impact of his film overall that saw Horn really step it up.
After explaining to Daldry, who had lost the German inquisitor’s enquiry in translation, that the questioner wanted to know why the last bit of the film wasn’t very good, Horn took over.
“You could say I have a biased perspective, but I think the movie did end properly as it’s about a family getting back together after what happpened [on 9/11]. It was important for my character, his grandfather and the emotional journey.”
Daldry smiled, as Horn looked to him, before adding: “Yeah, definitely.”
Von Sydow, nominated for a best supporting Oscar for his role as a traumatized mute in the film, said there was no difference in portraying someone who doesn’t speak from someone who does.
“Human beings are human beings whether they speak or not. It’s certainly something I haven’t done before,” said von Sydow. “I was profoundly moved by the script and story, and the character does write things down so creates his own narrative that way.”
When asked what type of father von Sydow has been to his own children, the Swedish-born actor, who will be 83 in April, paused.
“I’ve been the type of father who tries desperately to be perfect but doesn’t succeed all the time,” he said. “It’s very difficult being an actor and being away for a lot of time, but my sons haven’t complained too much too often.”
Daldry said directing children was the same as directing adults. “We rehearsed a lot and prepared a lot. We worked with Thomas as much as we worked with other actors.”
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