EoM contributor Thomas Manning recently took part in a virtual roundtable Q&A with actor Alex Wolff to discuss his performance in the NEON production Pig, written and directed by Michael Sarnoski. Wolff talks about working with Nicolas Cage and Adam Arkin, and what it was like on set during the shooting of one of the most emotional scenes of the film.
Thomas Manning: I want to ask about the relationship between your character, Amir, and Nicolas Cage’s character, Rob. There’s obviously that generational divide there that impacts a lot of how they see the world and influences the decisions they make in their daily lives. And then, comparing that to both of your respective careers in the film industry: You and Nicolas come from two very different generations of acting talent, and you’ve had your own unique experiences within the industry that are particular to your respective generations. Did those parallels at all impact the way that you approached capturing the nuances of your performance and conveying that relationship with those two characters?
Alex Wolff: It doesn’t come up very much, to be totally honest – our generations and our experiences. I think that a lot of times when you’re an actor and you’re in some form of the public eye, people like to craft your story and kind of build your image. But I think we’re just day-by-day. You know, for Nic, it felt like just yesterday when he was doing Raising Arizona. I feel like for me, this stuff has just all happened. All these movies just kind of started happening. So, I think really what you can act on – or, at least for me – is more maybe your taste in film, what you love. And we both kind of have the same taste of being Bergman obsessives and big Fellini fans and big fans of Kuroneko, Carnival of Souls, and Ugetsu, and these styles of filmmaking. And I think that’s forced us to just bond over our similar taste and maybe that informs our choices as careers. But we don’t talk about the careers very much. What a waste of two really passionate, interesting people, to be talking about our fucking careers – that would just be really boring to me. So, I’m just happy to be with a person who I feel close with and talking about art with.
Thomas Manning: There’s one scene in particular that I want to ask about, and that’s the dinner scene with Adam Arkin toward the end of the film. I feel that across the board, everything about the scene is perfect. Obviously, Michael Sarnoski’s direction and writing, but I think it’s the performances from the three of you [Wolff, Arkin, and Cage] that really hit everything home there. Each of your performances are individually distinctive, but they’re also complementary to one another in ways that enhance the overall impact of the moment. So, what is required from your presence there that enables the performances from Nicolas [Cage] and Adam [Arkin] to be what they are, and also vice versa?
Alex Wolff: You know, you don’t exactly know how important the scene is until you see the movie. And it’s not your job to as an actor, or at least for me. I kind of treat everything as really important, and also not important. I have to be loose. I have to not put too much pressure on something or, you know, you just tense up. You’re human. I remember that particular day – we’d been working a lot and that was late at night. And I remember that particular day we just couldn’t stop laughing. It was one of these days we couldn’t get through the scene. Both of us. [Cage and Wolff]. And, it’s funny that it’s the most emotional scene in the movie, but I think that’s sometimes how it works. We were really open at that point, and I think it was almost like we were joking that we were like Joker [from DC Comics], like we were having a laugh problem, like we couldn’t stop. He [Cage] kept handing me this dish of food, and I just couldn’t stop laughing. So that’s what I remember from that, is us in full hysterics. And Nic will remember that too. We just were like hyenas laughing. And then, I mean, poor Adam has to start crying. But there was something about it where it was really loose. There was nothing for us that was stressful about that scene. It was loose as fuck – too loose, some might say. We were just giggling and giggling and giggling, uproarious.
A truffle hunter who lives alone in the Oregonian wilderness must return to his past in Portland in search of his beloved foraging pig after she is kidnapped.
In select theaters July 16th, 2021.
Available on VOD August 3rd, 2021.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD November 2nd, 2021.
For more information, head to NEON’s official Pig website.
Thomas Manning is a member of the NCFCA and SEFCA, and also the co-host of the television show and radio program “Meet Me at the Movies.” He has served as a production assistant and voting member on the Film Selection Committee for the Real to Reel Film Festival. He is currently studying film, television, and English at Gardner-Webb University.
Categories: Filmmaker Interviews