After enjoying international success on stage with his play “The Father”, Florian Zeller wanted to transpose it to the big screen. He only had one name in mind for the lead role: Anthony Hopkins. Still had to succeed in convincing him.
The Father : the consecration of Florian Zeller
Yes The Father is the first feature film by Florian Zeller, the latter is far from being unknown on the artistic scene. Indeed, in the theatrical field, the playwright is a star. He is considered by some media such as The Guardian like “the most exciting playwright of our time“. Thus, it was during the 2010s that Florian Zeller chained international recognition: The mother in 2010, The truth in 2011 (play performed in around thirty countries and awarded with a Laurence Olivier Award), The father in 2012 which was a monstrous success, and The son in 2019.
It was also during this same year 2019 that he decided to adapt his play to the cinema. The father, which he renamed under the English title of The Father. For the record, this is not the first time that his project has been transposed to the cinema. It is indeed necessary to remember the feature film Florida, released in 2015, with Jean Rochefort (which is the last film before his death).
The Father follows Anthony, an octogenarian whose mental degeneration begins to amplify. Refusing all the caregivers offered to her by her daughter, he nevertheless enters a mental labyrinth from which he runs the risk of not getting out.
Released in 2020, The Father was a critical triumph, winning a batch of statuettes. Among them, the Oscar for Anthony Hopkins who delivers in this film one of the best performances of his career. As Florian Zeller also relates to BFM TV, this film is the consecration of an improbable dream for him: to direct the actor who has become memorable in the eyes of the world with Thesilenceofthelambs :
It all started around Anthony Hopkins. When I started wanting to adapt this play into a film, my first idea, my obsession, was to do it with him. And I was aware that was a slightly unrealistic idea. Besides, when I talked about it to friends around me, they smiled nicely, because it’s still Anthony Hopkins.
Desiring at all costs to have him appear in his film, he then decided to send his agent the script for The Father. Except that, surprise, a few days later, the agent of the famous British actor calls him because the latter would have been seduced by the scenario. He therefore wanted to be able to meet the neo-director. As he also tells France Inter, Zeller flew to Los Angeles and met Anthony Hopkins during a breakfast with the hope of convincing him. During these two hours, it was the actor who mainly questioned him about what he wanted to do, before taking him in his arms and accepting the project. It was therefore during this meal that the two men agreed to collaborate:
Since that breakfast, and throughout the year that we have worked together, he has shown a generosity that moved me and dazzled me.
Today, the two men are good friends. Moreover, the actor and the director will work together again in The Son, film adapted from another Zeller play: The son.