lUka Kalvani describes the stage of life he is in as a large and lush garden. And diverse, because there are many projects in which he participates and they are different. director’s first film Kacho with pears released to cinemas last March, for example. Or a podcast Bee You – Thoughts are buzzing dedicated to inner well-being. Of course, the farmhouse Le Gusciane, where the actor and presenter moved with his partner Alessandro Franchini. When he speaks, Calvani gets the impression that he is exactly where he wants to be. He conveys serenity and lightness even when he recalls the moments spent together with his colleague Amber Heard, a “wonderful person” with whom a “beautiful friendship” was born. Only once during the interview does the tone break, allowing annoyance to surface: when, while still talking about Amber, the discussion ends with those who judge her by hearsay, often with harsh words, and those who attack even him, because instead , after getting to know her personally, he defends her. This, obviously, is about the process, as a result of which the American actress was sentenced to pay compensation for libel to the former Johnny Depp, and which has not ceased to be discussed since then. Calvani and Hurd met on set On fire, a film directed by Conor Allin, which will be released next fall. The supernatural thriller is set in 1890 and depicts the struggle between science and religion, embodied here, in particular, by two characters, Grace and Father Antonio, played respectively by Amber Heard and Luca Calvani. The confrontation between them, or rather, the evolution of their relationship, is one of the central moments of the plot. Grace is a psychiatrist and is contacted by a woman living on a farm in Colombia, concerned that her son Martin is showing signs of a disorder. The local priest Father Antonio, as well as local farmers, are convinced that the boy is possessed by the devil. Therefore, when a psychiatrist arrives, she will try to help the boy also by protecting him from the rage and fear of those who live next to him. Filming took place in Puglia and Guatemala between February and March 2022, shortly before Heard and Depp’s trial in Virginia, which began on April 12 of that year.
What was it like working with Amber Heard?
“Amber immediately struck me with the questions she asked: it was clear that she documented a lot, that she was cultured. When we ended up in Puglia, it was love at first sight. There are actors who work on themselves, identify with the character from the moment they leave the dressing room. I, on the other hand, studied Meisner (A Special Approach to Acting Developed by Sanford Meisner, ed.), a technique based on behavior and observation of others, which I later learned Amber had also studied. It gave us the opportunity to create scenes together and watch them grow and blossom. This kind of work inspires us a lot. And it’s fun too.”
How often can you find such a system on the set?
“First of all, we need a director who allows this, who involves the actors so that they feel like they are part of the creative process. Conor Allin is just that.”
You have experience in Italian and American filming. Is there another approach?
“There’s a great democracy on British and American film sets: we stay together, we work together… It’s nice because we really know each other. It doesn’t have that hierarchy that you sometimes feel on Italian film sets.”
returning to On fireWhat was your experience with Amber Heard off set?
“We spent time together, talking, walking around Antigua, Guatemala… We also had dinners: I cooked, and Amber, passionate about food and wine, chose several wines, explaining their origins, flavors and offerings.”
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Filming took place shortly before the trial in Virginia, and the presentation of the film at the Taormina Film Festival took place last June and was Hurd’s first public appearance since the trial. Did you find that he has changed?
“There was a certain tension during filming, and for that reason we tried to create distractions. In two weeks, the trial in Virginia will begin, and a cloud is visible in the distance. I actually followed the process very little because it was painful. But I forced myself to be heard and expressed my closeness to her. While promoting the film in Taormina, I was happy to find her confident. I am very proud of her and the courage she had. And also because on the Internet some people still write terrible comments. I mean what should he do? Lock myself in a cave and never come out of mine again? Right or wrong, the process was. Continue”.
Even under the posts on her Instagram profile, there are aggressive comments and haters who attack her for her respect for Amber. Do you understand why the story continues to sound like this?
“It surprises me a lot. When I returned to Italy last year after shooting the film, I got all sorts of comments for a couple of weeks: “You and your dogs will die”, “Bastardo”… Absurd. I spent two intense months with Amber and it was a great exchange. A beautiful friendship was also born because we found a lot in common: we are both separated parents, we have open sexuality … It is absurd to think that someone who is thousands of kilometers away from me can connect to the Internet and write to me everything, what do you think about my relationship with this woman, who, moreover, is not an ordinary person, but truly generous, kind to everyone … I realized that I met a wonderful person, and I sincerely believe that I am free to have my own idea of her, knowing her and spending time with her.”
Clash of opinions is one of the themes of the film. On fire. It seems to me that there is a connection with the experience you are telling, as well as with current events in general.
“A film about absolutes, about polarization. This is a phenomenon that has already changed the politics and destinies of entire nations, but we also see it in social networks, and mediation is not possible here. Grace in the film represents science, the only new point of view in the rural society she enters. Others think that the child is evil, possessed by the devil … She is the only one who talks about a mental disorder.
Talking about health, including mental health: he recently launched a podcast Bee You – Buzzing Thoughtsdedicated to inner well-being.
“I have changed many skins in my life. Our, as a human being, journey of expansion. Sometimes we encounter obstacles, but they serve to open up other parts of ourselves. If something had turned out differently for me, if I had become a different person, maybe right now I would not have the opportunity, time and curiosity to explore something else. On the contrary, right now the garden of my life is very diverse, and I am proud of it.
Is there any other project in sight?
“The estate Le Gusciane, which I opened with Alessandro, is constantly evolving. I have several film projects in development, including abroad. I am writing a book about how my life on the farm has changed. And then I would like to work with Amber again: we talked about it, and we have a couple of ideas that we could develop together … We’ll see. I am definitely in a good chapter of my life. Last year I went outside, although Alessandro and I were never really in hiding. I like to enjoy our home, share it with other people. I like being with my daughter. This speed, I confess, suits me: I am drawn to my world, to my roots.
After Heard, what actress or actor would you like to work with?
“Definitely Joaquin Phoenix, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard… And then Cate Blanchett: I like her sense of humor, she seems to me an actress who gets her hands dirty, who loosens the soil for history. It would be great to get your hands dirty with her.”