- What are the main differences between the book and the script of The Physician film, in your opinion?
- The novel was a big bestselling hit in the late 1980′s. In 1986 it came out reaching up to 20 mln. readers all over the Europe. Since that time various directors and producers tried to handle this adaptation, but the film was considered a cursed project. No one could really pull it off, because the novel is so huge with 850 pages, 50 years of narrative time, a lot of character arcs, locations where heroes travel to. It looks nearly impossible to this into a movie. In order to make one, you have to cut and to find the 5% of the script that really can be the heart and soul of the novel. It was really difficult for most people.
Later on I came on board, I was the last in the long row of directors. So I had big advantages to learn from others’ dead ends, and the trick was for the new screenplay of The Physician to use a little bit more freedom. We have got a condensed version of the story, but in a way it is like a remix, so we tried to grab the essence, bring the iconic scenes of the novel to the screen, which people remember from the book, bring the characters they love and leave the rest away. In a way we succeeded, I really hope the readers will find the spirit of the book in the movie as well.
- What was it like to work with Emma Rigby?
- Emma playes a love interest for our hero Rob in the film, while he travels. Rob here is an English orphan, he goes all around England with one barber surgeon, from village to village in their cart. They pull out teeth, correct bones and execute very simple medicine of their own time. At some point he realizes that true medicine is much more sophisticated and taught in Persia in Far East. He goes on a big journey, there he meets a beautiful girl that is traveling on the some caravan, then a fierce sandstorm comes, so he loses sight with the other ones. Basicailly, when he arrives after being almost dead in a desert, he comes to the capital of Persia named Isfahan thinking Rebecca is dead. Then he understands that she is not dead, but married to another guy. It is kind of a love story that has a lot of obstacles, there is no way for them to come together from the first sight.
- How was it to direct Ben Kingsley and other experienced actors on the set?
- All my life I have worked with strong people. Stellan Skarsgård as well as sir Ben Kingsley are just really good actors. From working with them you really learn a lot. However, in my life I have worked with so many superstars already, my opera work and the music videos work brought me together with people like Madonna, Mick Jagger, Luciano Pavarotti and most recently - Anna Netrebko. I don’t have any problems with superstars, I know they are just people, and it is the same in working with them like with all the others.
- Name a few things you associate with Russia.
- Wonderful vodka isn’t the most important one, but I still name it first. My friend Anna Netrebko. Mariinsky theatre. I’d also add famous Russian writers like Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) and Fyodor Dostoevskiy (1821-1881).
- Thanks, Philipp!