It’s a peaceful and sunny spring day when I meet Dutch actor Robert De Hoog after the rehearsal of ‘Obsession‘, the play based on Luchino Visconti‘s film that is going to be on stage from 21 April at the Barbican Theatre. Robert plays the role of Johnny (the Spaniard in Visconti’s movie), a strange and dubious character strangely and maybe homosexually attracted by his soul mate Gino (played by Jude Law). His role was censored when the film was released. Far from being the murder mystery movie everyone was expecting, the Church and the Fascist authorities stopped it after a few screenings and eventually destroyed it. Visconti could save only one copy, and that’s why we can see it today.
Have you seen Visconti’s film?
Yes, we all have seen and studied it deeply. I really really loved it. I also did ‘Rocco e i suoi fratelli’ with Ivo for his Antonioni’s project. Ivo Van Hove also loves Italian film-makers. If you see a film by Visconti it stays in your head, it’s so powerful, so strong, so pure. I have the same feelings for Paolo Sorrentino, he’s visually so strong that the images don’t leave your head.
How is going to be for you to play a role in a language different from your mother tongue?
I’ve already played in English on other occasions. I had a language coach who helped me to pronounce it the proper way and then I’ll have to adapt for a couple of days, after which it will be easier.
Where will the play tour after London?
We’ll go to Amsterdam, Vienna and Luxembourg.
You have played Garcia Lorca before. You might be used to strong Mediterranean characters full of passion.
Yes, I’ve made ‘Blood Wedding’. It’s a different mindset from Northern characters. My character, who is in bed with Gino in one scene of the play, describes a society that was already there but nobody wanted to see.
Do you think the reaction will be different to the one of 1943, when people were shocked by the film?
I think situations like the one of the play are much more accepted nowadays, at least in certain countries. It’s about two people loving each other very much, to the point they cannot control themselves. It will be interesting to see how the audience will react.
How have you prepared yourself for the role?
We have seen the movie a couple of times but at a certain point, you have to let the film go and focus on the script, as we are not making a remake of the film but a play. So I concentrated on learning my lines.
How was to work with Jude Law?
He’s such a gifted actor. It has been amazing. Just only watching him was amazing. I have a lot of respect for him. He’s kind and generous.
What do you know about Italian directors or actors?
My mother studied in Italy, in Perugia, and we had a house in a little place nearby. We had a lot of friends there. I went there since I was a baby. I love Italian directors, like Scola and now I’m absolutely in love with Paolo Sorrentino.
Is there any role by an Italian director you would like to play?
I would like to do Gep Gambardella only to see Italy that way.