Adore stars Naomi Watts as Lil, mother to Ian (Xavier Samuel) and lifelong best friend of Roz (Robin Wright) who winds up having an affair with Ian. Ian's best friend Tom (James Frecheville) is the son of Roz and once he discovers what's happening, he begins sleeping with Lil. Friends and lovers, mothers and the young men still coming into their own who get tangled up in confusing relationships...Adore is not your average love story. What it is is a very adult, very complex film based on Doris Lessing's book and directed by Anne Fontaine.
Leading up to my exclusive interview with Adore's Xavier Samuel, I was doing some research online when I came across an article in which the writer could not stop raving about how mesmerizing Samuel is on screen. I had to ask him if he happened to have read the piece, and Samuel admitted he does his best not to read too much online. "Occasionally my mum will send me an article of something like that," laughed Samuel. "As a general rule I just try to stay clear of all that because it's just a bottomless pit, and it's usually not very constructive. But it's sometimes nice to check in and monitor the enthusiasm for whatever the project is."
In addition to checking on his reading habits, I also asked Samuel about his co-stars, the script, and how he would describe the story:
What was your initial reaction to reading the script?
"My initial reaction was that I was kind of struck that it was really just a love story, when you dove deeper into it. I thought it was going to read more dangerously than it did. I guess that's a sort of rough answer."
How quickly did you realize that?
"Well, it's pretty apparent. I'd been told about the film before I read it, and I managed to sit down with the director and have a chat. I guess there was no real other way to approach it, other than treating it as if love sees no bounds or it sees beyond the age at least, anyway."
Given its unusual love story, did you have any qualms whatsoever about tackling the role?
"No. You always want to be involved in stories that push the envelope, especially in this climate where there's a lot of pre-validated material and sequels and prequels. It's always exciting to come across a film like Adore, where the relationships are complex and not just what's written on the page."
This is an emotionally intense film so was it tough to shoot? At the end of the day, how did you feel?
"Well, my character kind of goes through..."
[Laughing] "Yeah, pretty much. There were those phases in the film where he feels betrayed and everything else, so, I tried not to take it home with me too much. But those feelings are sometimes hard to shake."
Was it difficult to you to get into this guy's skin?
"No, not particularly because it's, like I said, really just a love story and I think anyone that's been in love before has experiences to draw on. There's a lot of different things to draw on, I suppose, so I had plenty of information."
And you also had some incredible co-stars in Robin Wright and Naomi Watts.
"They're both phenomenal people and actresses, and it was really wonderful to get a chance to work with them. They certainly taught me a lot."
What did they teach you?
"Well, I think it's just when you work with actors who have that level of experience and expertise, it's the kind of thing where you can't really articulate it and sort of take it all in. I guess, particularly, I think they really trust their instincts and I think that's a good example to follow."
Can you talk about getting that connection with Robin Wright because you have great chemistry on screen?
"We spent a lot of time talking about it and talking about the intricacies of this relationship, because essentially they kind of grew up together so there's a really strong history there. And it's only when these young men come of age that those feelings are kind of awakened. It's sort of like knowing someone for a long time and then suddenly falling in love with them. Yeah, I don't know, I guess you can compare that to a whole bunch of different instances...sometimes it happens with a friend or whatever it is."
How does director Anne Fontaine run her set and what is she like to work with?
"Anne Fontaine is an amazing director, really. She did a film called Nathalie which was one of her earlier films which I watched and I had really enjoyed. She just has a certain quality as a filmmaker that I think is really unique. Then, working with her, this was her first English speaking film ... she's French, obviously, and the film's got a very French feel to it. But because she didn't have very many words in her vocabulary, the direction was often really sharp and to the point, which I kind of found helpful. Sometimes when you work with directors there's a lot of talking and I think too much talking can slow things down where you end up intellectualizing things. Sometimes it's good to hear, 'No! What is that? Do that again...' Just really basic refereeing, I suppose.
She's also just a really warm, lovely personality with a kind of wicked sense of humor."
When there's that kind of language gap, is it then less collaborative because you can't really bounce ideas off each other as much?
"No, it was kind of the opposite, really, because you were forced to get to the crux of exactly what she was talking about and exactly what she wanted. That was even more concentrated, I suppose, because of that language barrier. Yeah, I certainly felt like it was a collaboration. For sure."
Did you ever read the book this film is based on?
"I did, yeah. It's more of a short story, really, like a novella. It's awesome; really moving."
Would you say this is a close adaptation?
"It is. I think that the film retained ... there's a quality that is kind of universal, like the whole story was playing out in the clouds or something, in an unknown place. There's something sort of isolated about it and that's very much present in the story."
Are you aiming now to do projects that are a little riskier?
"I don't know if risky is the prerequisite, but certainly work that is complex. I think that's ultimately where I want to live, really, as an actor. Stuff that takes a little figuring out and where you choose to feel like your investigating something, as to opposed to just playing it out."
How difficult is it to find that type of script?
"It's really difficult, but occasionally they do come along. And when they do you jump at them, really."