Movie – Halo
Director : Reva Zane
Actress : Hélène Cardona
Reva Zane is a Minneapolis born director who began her career as a singer and a lyricist. After a long successful career she returned to film school to learn directing and producing. After living in New York and Paris, she presently resides in LA.
Actor Hélène Cardona is also a poet, linguist and literary translator. She was born in Paris. She has authored several books, including the poetry collections Life in Suspension and Dreaming My Animal Selves. She has acted in various films, namely, Chocolat, Serendipity.
Hello Reva, hello Hélène. Firstly congratulations to both of you for the success of Halo. The movie was intriguing. It was fun to watch.
My first question would be to Reva. Reva, you picked Venus and Cupid as your central characters. What inspired you to select them?
Your other characters include Cherubim and Seraphim. How much fun did you have while crafting the script? Was it tough to add both Grecian and Biblical characters in the same script?
My idea for the structure of Halo is that of a heavenly bureaucracy. There is a chain of command with Venus at the top of the operation. She would never be worker bee so she needs an emissary.
Gabe, her messenger, needs to complete the mission to save romance. He’s an underdog in the world of the angels. He drinks too much, is a party boy, the Seraphim feel he is beneath them.
Venus sees his beauty and method. He is a flirt and a charmer but she remains in control as the elegant goddess of all she surveils.
The paintings of Francois Boucher inspired me to write these characters. His angels appear whimsical and fun loving and he paints a world filled with beauty.
I love the idea of playing with class structure and angels behaving badly. A so-called loser can become a winner. The Seraphim may represent an ivory tower, but it takes a messenger with street smarts to get the job done.
The cherubim and earthier angels all have their part to play in reuniting the human couple.
It was so fun to write a femme fatale angel in the style of old Hollywood and a French seducer in the manner of a Latin lover from Paris.
As far as the mix of Grecian and Biblical characters, it was simply part of creating a world as a screenwriter. The great painters inspired this combination. In Halo, I wanted to invent three dimensional versions of the images I observed in paintings. I was once given a piece of advice by a woman who worked on legendary films for exceptional directors. “if you are going to do a comedy, make it outrageous”.
My plan is to follow those words to live by as I continue to pursue the vision of my next romantic comedy.
This one is for Hélène, what made you say yes to this script? How did you envision this character then?
I loved the script right away. It is magical and whimsical and made me want to be part of that world. I saw Venus as regal, celestial, divine, transcendent, and intuitive. She is subtle and refined, and has a great sense of humor. She is both joyful and thoughtful and knows how to seduce and charm. Her world is one governed by vivid artistry, sensuality and intoxicating beauty.
Venus is a dream role for many.
It’s really interesting because when I met Reva, the movie was already cast. I was invited to the table read at the theatre and I was curious to meet her, so I attended. By a stroke of luck, the actress originally cast ended not being able to do it and Reva offered me the role on the spot. It was kismet.
Do you have a dream character? If yes, who and why so?
There are so many! I’m attracted to a wide range of multi-dimensional characters who are passionate. I love playing characters from different worlds and genres. As an actor, I inhabit different characters and pour a lot of myself into them. It’s like having different selves and I welcome the possibilities of expressing them.
For instance, I’d love to play a European Aristocrat in a historical piece, whether drama or comedy. As it turns out, when I was getting started in New York, right after graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, one of my very first smaller roles was that of an Austrian aristocrat in a TV series, so I’d love to have the opportunity to play a more fully developed character. I’d also love to play a spy, and a character in one of the Marvel series. They seem like so much fun.
The so-called “evil” characters can be a lot of fun because it’s a way of embracing your shadows. I was fortunate to record some of the Cerebro Voices in X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse. It was all about the light and shadow and coming from very dark places. So I put my experiences to use. There is a transformative process, a healing process, and by creating a piece of art, we heal ourselves, and then we heal others because they recognize themselves in the stories we tell. And that’s the beauty of it. That’s why we go to the theater, because it’s such a transcendental and therapeutic experience. That’s why we go to see movies, that’s why we love art in general. The symbols are there. And we respond to symbol and myth. This is the way we tell stories, this is the way we move forward in life.
I recently played the role of Arlette Linstrom in the feature Caralique. It’s a family drama, a mother-daughter story. Arlette is an ode to mothers and all they sacrifice. She is the heart and soul of the movie. My mother passed away young. She was always supportive of me so it meant a lot to play this character. it was also a way of paying tribute to my mother. I love movies that are explorations of personal relationships. I love the movies of Krzysztof Kieslowski and Andrei Tarkovsky for instance.
I love the film noirs of the 50s when actresses were offered fantastic roles. I love many of the roles that Juliette Binoche, Marion Cotillard, Carey Mullligan, Cate Blanchett, Emily Blunt, Eva Green, Rachel Weisz, Nicole Kidman, Emma Thompson have played, just to name a few. There are too many to list!
Coming back to Reva. Halo is about love in modern times. How would you define love?
The Merriam Webster dictionary says it all. So I will define love from the world within the context of Halo.
Love is a kiss from the angels, light as a feather but more enduring than all the energy above and beyond the cosmos.
What kinds of projects do you aim to do next?
My next project is a feature version of Halo. It is a romantic comedy about overcoming grief. It is darker in tone and stronger in character development as well as plot.
Another project I am working on is a collection of stories about Paris. It is a memoir. I was originally drawn to Paris by images in cinema, but the reality of my experiences there unfold with very personal chapters including ironically, meeting many treasured people in the world of cinema.
I will stay in the genre of exploring romantic notions and human foibles for a while longer.
Hélène, Venus is such a glamorous character, and you beautifully portrayed her. If you could pick another character to play, from Halo, who would it be?
I would only pick Venus in Halo! And I can’t wait to play her again.
Reva has been working on a feature screenplay and Venus is more developed so it will be such a treat.
Also, you have worked with many acclaimed directors. With whom do you wish to work next?
There are so many! From the top of my head… I’d love to work with Pedro Almodóvar, Céline Sciamma, Emerald Fennell, Wes Anderson, Alfonso Cuarón, Tim Burton, André Téchiné, Greta Gerwig, Patricia Rozema, Bertrand Bonello, Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, Ava DuVernay, Mira Nair, Susanne Bier…
I’d also love to work in front of the camera with Alain Berliner, Christopher Nolan, Andrew Feling, Matthew Weiner, Steve Conrad, Colin Trevorrow and Tim Kring, for all of whom I’ve recorded voices in the past. And I look forward to collaborating with many directors I don’t know yet, and new directors whose work I’m about to discover!
Thank you for your kind interaction. My last question is for both of you. A movie requires a strong understanding between a director and an actor. How was your equation on set? How did you guys feel while working with each other?
To begin with, I was thrilled that Hélène wanted to be part of the project. She had been open and generous with her time in the past when she came to one of my screen writing classes at UCLA to read my work for a critique.
As far as working on set goes, I had an idea of how the dialogue should sound. In my head was a rhythm that I intended to go for.
The actors were rehearsing and warming up as the DP and I were discussing the shot.
We began the takes and the scene took off in a completely different rhythm than the one in my head. With each take the actors became more natural and comfortable with one another.
My suggestions were minimal. I realized what was in my head had nothing to do with the performance that was building in front of the camera. It was best to leave the actors alone in the moment. To leave the spontaneity uninterrupted.
I mentioned the idea to Hélène later and she was so open to it but it would not have made the scene better.
It became clear that suggesting anything different would have taken away from the chemistry in their performance.
I just got out of the way and let Hélène take ownership of the role. Her creativity brought the character to life in a way I could never have imagined.
It was a dream filming with Reva. It was so smooth. There was this sense we were there here to play and that’s very freeing. Reva made me feel so at ease.
Teaj Sanderson, who plays Gabe, was also a delight to work with. We rehearsed the scene, then Reva gave us a couple notes and we shot a few takes. The chemistry between us was just wonderful.