Rome Film Festival: Rooney Mara on Language Challenges in Portuguese Film 'Trash'

Rio de Janiero Film Festival

Director Stephen Daldry became a very flexible director after working with nonprofessionals

Academy Award-nominated director Stephen Daldry explored the underbelly of Brazil in his latest film Trash. The film, which had its European premiere in Rome Saturday night, follows three teenagers who find a wallet while sorting through landfills. The wallet has grave consequences for a corrupt politician and his equally corrupt police force who are intent on recovering it from the boys.

The movie is shot in Portuguese, and Rooney Mara and Martin Sheen play the only Americans in the film, an NGO worker and a priest, respectively. Mara’s character is able to help the boys by getting their story out virally. “I definitely prefer to be behind the action, behind the scenes,” she said in Rome about her role.  

While the cast and production crew raved about the Brazil shoot, where they re-created giant landfill sets, it was not without its difficulties. “I think the most challenging thing was just communicating with the boys and with everyone. We were really the only English speakers on the set,” said Mara. “We had sort of a weird, special way of communicating together. That’s totally what happens in the story. It was challenging, but it was also really helpful to have that language barrier with them.”

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Daldry also had difficulties working with nonprofessional actors, as they couldn’t understand why he had to shoot a scene more than one time. “So we tended not to do repeated action,” he said. “They would do it again and do it differently, and we would move the camera.”

He had to learn how to adapt, working the shooting schedule around the first-time actors. “It really did depend on the mood of the kids that day. They might come in sleepy or they might not come in at all,” he said. “But then you would improvise around what the story around that moment might be. We didn’t really ever know [going into] the day what we were shooting. We just made it up in the morning. Luckily, we had a Brazilian crew that was very open to that.”

Twitter: @Aristonla