Q&A: Cinema Royalty and Cannes Big Draw Liv Ullmann Looks Back

CANNES, France — Few people can capture the attention of people at the Cannes Film Festival like Liv Ullmann.

The 84-year-old Ullmann is an unabashed cinema jurist, and directors flocked to welcome him to this year’s festival. Pedro Almodóvar approached him at a lunch. Todd Haynes tried to make him believe that his latest film, “May December,” was inspired by “Persona,” the 1966 film that began his decade with Ingmar Bergman.

After meeting Ullman, “Zone of Interest” director Jonathan Glazer pressed his hand to his chest to catch his breath.

Ullmann has been going to Cannes for longer than he can remember. He’s pretty sure there’s a hotel suite named after him somewhere. But after being here in almost every capacity — 1973 with “Cries and Whispers,” 2000 with “Faithless,” jury president in 2000, jury president in 2001 — he was at Cannes for a different reason. in. Dheeraj Akolkar’s documentary series ‘Liv’ Ullmann: A Road Less Travelled’ played in the Cannes Classics section.

“I’ve never been here when someone else made a movie about me or my life,” says Ullmann. “It’s so different and maybe a little embarrassing. Because I’m an actress and a director.”

In an interview, the Boston-based Norwegian actress reflected on the passing of time and the halcyon decade she spent with Bergman, one of cinema’s great collaborations. Ullmann appeared in 10 of Bergman’s films, including Scenes from a Marriage and Saraband, and directed two of his screenplays. “A Road Less Traveled” will be available on Viaplay from June 22.


AP: Since you were such a central part of the artistic heyday, when filmmakers like Bergman, Godard and Truffaut were such a part of the culture, do you ever complain that today’s boldest films are less in the spotlight?

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ULLMANN: They’re making incredible movies now. You know, I saw Cate Blanchett last year. What an actress. Art, made today. But many other films also reflect this time. And I mean, everything that won an Oscar this year, I didn’t even understand all of them. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them or me.

Sometimes I miss that there are no more movies that we call classics. Maybe it’s about aging. What I’m most excited about is that these sequences that are everywhere keep us away from what the movie really was. The art of lighting, the art of the cinematographer, the art of the director – this is the kind of language. I love where I came from.

AP: How clearly do you remember meeting Bergman?

ULLMANN: Bibi Andersson, who was my best friend and we shot some films together, I visited her in Sweden. We were walking down the street and Ingmar came and talked to him. He knew who I was because I filmed a lot. He said, “Oh, well, I’d like you to be in one of my movies.” And maybe that’s why I experienced everything more personally (in the film), because that’s how it happened, Ingmar and I.

AP: You were immediately taken aback at that meeting, but what was your first impression of him?

ULLMANN: Oh, I was so impressed. I’m shy, and then I was very shy. I never spoke. When he said he wanted me in one of his films, I was shocked. Fortunately, I didn’t have a single line in the film. It’s weird that he did this to me because I was 25 years old. I was young. I see the film as being about him reaching middle age and wanting to stop life and go into himself. Then he chose me. I was him. And I think I was him in a lot of movies. We weren’t the same, but in some ways we were. There’s a reason he kept using me after that until he died.

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AP: How would you describe how deep your relationship was?

ULLMANN: That’s what he said. You and I are painfully connected. We lived together for five years, but perhaps the most wonderful relationship was when we lived apart. So we had a closer relationship with each other. I came to Fårö (the island where he lived) the night he died and he was already on his way.

AP: Did you share anything on his deathbed?

ULLMANN: He was already on his way. I said one thing. The last film we did together was Saraband. It’s about a woman who comes back to her husband many years after it ended. And he asks him: “Why did you come to me?” He says, “You called me.” As I sat there on the bed I said, “If you’re wondering why I’m here, you called me.” Maybe you heard it, I don’t know.

AP: You’ve often been described as his “muse,” but that doesn’t seem like the right word for your collaboration.

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ULLMANN: I don’t think I was a muse, but you could say that. I did a lot of things that he wanted that he didn’t do. I travelled. I went to the world. I became famous. The strange thing is that with these actors, whom he loved very much, he did not like them to leave. Bibi Andersson and Max von Sydow. But he thought he was having fun with me. I do not know why. When I did A Doll’s House, he came to New York. He hated traveling. He enjoyed what I did. I had to do so many things because it wasn’t me, and maybe he wanted to do it. In all seriousness, of course it wasn’t me.

AP: You consider yourself a theater actor at heart, but what was your relationship with the camera like? In the documentary, Blanchett says she “looks up at the world with the face of unconditional love.”

ULLMANN: When you’re really close to someone you love, when you look at each other, you know everything about each other. This is how I see the camera. I don’t need to be shy. You are an actor inside. Your soul, your heart can come out if you want to show the real truth to the camera. It tells you what’s underneath. Stanislavski can’t help it, or he can help it. Not your brain. Your brain is not the actor. It’s from here (points to the heart). If you relax your body, the camera will take you.


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Source: https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/qa-liv-ullmann-cinema-royalty-major-cannes-draw-99516395