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Paul Tickell


Running Time: 97

Main Cast:
Rutger Hauer - Allart van Beuningen
Scott Williams - Patrick Donovan
Natalia Verbeke - Chiara van Beuningen
Valentina Cervi - Dina Gusmano
Malcom McDowell - Paul Valenzin
Paul Guilfoyle - Taddeo Rossi
Gaetano Carotenuto - Vittorio Tedeschi
Antonella Ponziani - Giovanna Zanon
Yura Marin - Aldo Nicolussi

Bill Haney and Philippe Browning from the novel by J.M. De Prada

An American art appraiser, Patrick Donovan, is sent to Venice to evaluate three paintings belonging to the famous Galleria dell'Accademia. The company that insures the paintings has hired Donovan's employer, the International Center for Art Authentication, to verify that two Bellini canvases as well as the crown jewel of the museum's collection - Giorgione's 'La Tempesta' - are originals.

Donovan contacts Allart van Beuningen, the director of the Accademia Museum, examines the two Bellinis and confirms that they are authentic. But before he can check 'La Tempesta', with floodwaters rising and the Galleria closed to the public, the painting is stolen by assailants who attack Donovan and Van Beuningen's beautiful adopted daughter, Chiara, a professional art restorer who works at the Museum.

When the painting gets stolen, Donovan has to turn into a detective in order to try to track down the thief and recover the canvas.

Soon Donovan's investigations reveal a sophisticated forgery operation in which he finds himself deeply involved when he falls under the charm of Chiara, a talented artist with a dark side. Forgery, deceit, murder and betrayal ensue at a hectic pace...

Rutger's Notes:
June 2, 2004
It's true. Today was very scattered and messy. Noisy. And off. When the darling director said maybe we should rehearse three scenes at once I got that feeling of deja-vu and deja-vu that has never worked so far. Ok we got to rehearse one, alright. Malcolm McDowell said goodbye. 18hr flight west. Phew. He was great. We needed to be serious and grave. Had to be dead. Joker. Best fart under a white sheet. Great collegue. Juan Manuel - the writer of the book - was there, consuming all this with his wife. Long hours. Like I said, I would have killed someone but everybody is really good, nice, sweet and so I had just to be my patient self. Meanwhile we worked on and on and just had some great things to turn into high def footage. And we did. Such a great day anyway. Then a press conference for the Spanish journalists who came to see their Natalia Verbeke. What a nice ball of fire she is. And just like most of us she just jumps in seconds before a take with streaming concentration. Scot - our main man in the story - is on his own mission and he will always arrive from a different perspective. I watch him as he slowly crawls over the edge and I know how he must feel. Gentle and generous while Mountains and Forests surround him. I love seeing him hold his own and flexing some kind of different muscle.

June 12, 2004
At the time that I was in London shooting'Batman Begins' I also read the script of 'Tempesta' and met the director a few times. For 'Batman Begins' I toyed with the idea to use a beard, possibly, and of course only if Chris Nolan would have liked the idea. So I went to an address of great "hairpeople" and London is one of the few places to find the good ones. So we played with the idea. I got a beard made. Nolan hated the idea anyway and I didn't think the fluff did much good either. I knew though that for the much later film I needed a big one. I mean, big. So, I went back to work out the idea some more.

At this time the role for 'Tempesta' started getting shape and form. I met Scot and saw photos of Nataly. The role itself had some 'stuffyness' and professor elements. Allart van Beuningen is the director of an art museum in Venice. It occurred to me that it'd be nice to make him look as he'd just fallen out of one of the paintings. I decided he would be slightly odd and eccentric. Not that it matters much but I also felt he was possibly an in-the-closet homosexual with too many secrets. This thought was attractive to me because he has a daughter and at one point the lead character sees father and daughter in the same bedroom. Later it tuns out his ex-wife and him had adopted her. As a subtext I thought it'd be quite interesting if he had no interest in the female body anymore. I'm talking a lot less than Mr Allen has/had. It would also make for a more focused interest of the other men appearing in this story. Malcom Mcdowell's character is supposed to be the genius of his youth and some kind of fixation is obvious. I had to change my mind as Malcom came, because he is sensitve alright but very much man. At the same time my bearded looks turned me into an older stoic somber and sort of dangerous older fart. So I just turned to another form of love for him. The other thing about the hairy metamorphosis was that there is a shift close to the end of the film's story after which Allart T shaves his beard off and thus turns into the different man who will be much more successful in life. The effect of just losing it there meant a lot to me, because I feel Allart and his daughter Chiara win the lotto there without going into too many details.

Besides all these ideas I was very mmmmm what's the word ...cautious and insecure as I approached my first day of shooting. I had really grown attached to the beard idea but also felt some major reluctance in the director, as well as in the producer. They, as much as myself, wanted a realistic approach and the hair thing is very tricky. One shot that betrays its flaws and it would be a bad opera or a stage play. I decided not to show them the result before I would be in costume. The first day of shooting I came early and told the producer I wanted his opinion. I got ready and walked to the set where they were shooting. Was lovely. People did not recognize me and the moment I saw the way the director looked at me I knew it would be ok. What a fuzz, right? Yep, I know. It's part of it.

I have mothered the idea of a few people writing about the same event as one of great interest. As you can read from Juan Manuel's piece (herebeow), it is a great relief and a sense of having found the character that first day (including beard) that feeds energy into the next day.

INTERPRETATION is mostly someone's way of seeing things. It is unique in its limited view. Is there ever a complete view? And once it is history is it ever close to what it was? Filmmaking is literally limited by its "frame of mind". Always subjective and hopefully fascinating, even inbetween cuts, where there is all one does not show. I'm just getting ready here to talk about INTERPRETATION of the 'Tempesta' script and my role. The script is - by nature - an animal which constantly seems to melt into its new environment. Its skin changes colour and its content keeps changing depending where it is at and who is now handling it.
Juan Manuel wrote a few drafts but he might tell more about this himself. It is not unusual at all to have 10 drafts of one script and many times different writers will have had a go at it. Its true nature can change identity or get lost. All these developments depend on the producer. Because all this happens before actors come in and start massaging it their way. Producers go through this all the time and it is a very sensitive, difficult and expensive process. Years of work disappear this way. And don't you just know how many painfully interesting and good scripts are lying on shelves surrounded with good intentions while the options keep them lying in wait.

June 14, 2004
When I first read 'Tempesta' I was intrigued by the story's developement and the mystery that seemed to surround these people. The main story is about murder and forgery. But small glances at other people's lives are there and a lot of quack. In case 'quack' means something different. Well, it sounds like Donald Duck's voice without the words. The great thing about film is that they always end. So things need to be solved or wrapped up. This gives some room to chisel the story but there is a definite end to that freedom. 'Tempesta' wiggles like a snake and has venom. It is very voyeuristic. One constantly feels watching things one is not supposed to see. Maybe it is shot from a lover's point of view. With jealousy and some paranoia. Dreams and fantasy present. Venice is in trouble and water is rising. The Art Museum has big trouble to keep its artworks from being eaten by humidity and salt. The security is flawed. Shortcircuits keep cutting off power because of high tide and old wiring. It rains constantly and it leaks. All houses leak. But it never rains that long.

The young Clint Eastwood slides into town. Mr.Donavan. No horse. Just a watertaxi. Works for an insurance company. He's handsome and gentle. Serious. Concerned. Recently lost a sister in an accident. He's an expert on restoring old paintings. And forgery will be revealed if it needs to be. The director of the Art Academy Museum, Mr Allart van Beuningen, is pissed off because he has enough to deal with. But he tries to be an alright host. And there is a certain je-ne-sais-quoi between them. Allart has a daughter. Adopted when she was 12. No wife anymore. He raised her. The daughter has a lover. For too long. And too old as well. Mr. Valenzin, who looks like Malcolm McDowell, is a friend of the family but not quite. He is loved and despised at the same time. For good reasons. Later it is understood that Allart is in his grip. Valenzin is also a genius. The moment Mr.Donovan starts to settle in and the way Allart's daughter Chiara responds to him, gives a small spark of hope that there might be better prospects here. Venice is an island and claustrophobic as hell. The world is what he wants her to do. Chiara has different ideas. She'd never leave her father. Suddenly a very valuable painting is stolen. Then, Chiara's lover is killed and the story starts to go deeper. Mr Donovan is being seduced by some powerful people in Venice while in the meantime Chiara's solid charm makes him fall for her as they spend more time together. But different things come into play. Forgery being just one of them.

I found all the characters in the story so screwed up that I wanted to try and play this man relatively straight. I wanted Allart to be stoic because of shyness. And because of mistakes he made in life. Not quite beaten yet but still.

I considered two broad strokes to begin with that I talked to the director about, to see if it would fit. He'd be an intellectual man but at the same time he was mothering the paintings and the Museum like a farmer mothers his cows. He manages. I decided he knows art but is not an artist himself. His art is genius but a pain in the ass. He can't leave for a day. Just impossible. He's dry and serious. Strange. Lonely. Somewhat dangerous. Loves his girl. Wishes she was still younger but knows she's too old to hang around. He'd know Freud when he saw him. He's awake and struggling. He reads a lot. Does the accounting. He conducts concerts in his library listening to the music while reading the composer's music. That was his dream once.

Paul Tickell seemed to take pleasure in my approach but along the way two things kept surfacing. He wanted a more possessive father who's jealous of Valenzin screwing his daughter and also not happy with the new hero coming in. I could not take this on board because I felt that was too cliche. I decided to have a likeness for both men. I even considered a sexual attraction but felt I had to let that go. But I kept a certain love for both rather than to resist or fight them. It's amazing how these small measures will affect the subtext and one of the more interesting things in this craft is that they hold and will go a long way. I can't quite take you to the story's final development but I am always glad to build a few small surprises. In a story about murder and forgery no-one is what they seem. Even the Venice rats wear masks.........

Juan Manuel de Prada's Notes:
It has been such an experience... Imagine how a writer must feel when he sees his own characters turned into human beings who act before the camera. Now, imagine how I must feel when I see my all-time favourite actor incarnating one of those characters. I said it to Rutger, during a rest between scenes: "For me, it is something between a walking on the moon and a LSD experience". And he answered me, so gently: "I feel happy for you". But that was when I was seeing him on the set.

At first , when my wife and I arrived some days before to Luxemboug, Rutger was in Holland for the weekend, so we had to content ourselves seeing Rutger's truck, completely painted in black, which was at the same time frightening and fascinating. Rutger's truck was very famous at that point betweeen the crew and everybody whispered jokes about it. On May 31st we attended our first shooting day. Rutger was not there, but we could meet the other members of the cast, mainly Natalia Verbeke, Scot Williams and Malcolm McDowell. Natalia Verbeke, Rutger has told it, is a ball of fire, so cheerful and fresh, so exuberant and crashing as Sofia Loren was at the beginning of her career; everybody on the set was in love with her. Some in a platonic way, some others not only in that way. Scot Williams, for example, was between the first: he is a very gentle, shy and well-educated English actor. It is his first big role for the screen, and sometimes he seems a little bit intimidated by the presence of such "film-monsters" as Rutger or Malcolm McDowell. McDowell, by the way, is a very friendly and merry person: he succeeded in creating a marvellous chemistry between him and Natalia, and he contributed a lot with his kind manners to the good shooting atmosphere. I immediately noticed that the more important and professional an actor is, the more accessible and sympathetic he is. The same would happen with Rutger.

Meanwhile I had a meeting with Paul Tickell, the director, a very laconic and quiet man (but at the same time very creative), and with Rainier van Breumelen, director of photography, a true magician, who was, on the contrary, very active and expressive, the perfect counterweight for Tickell. They were doing a very tenebrous and gothic film, something between Rembrandt and Caravaggio. On Tuesday morning, I received in the set a very strange call - somebody was asking for me. As I hadn't given that telephone number to anybody in Spain, I was very intrigued. When I picked up the phone, I recognized Rutger's voice. He wanted to know me and my wife, and invited us to return to Luxembourg and visit him in his hotel. You can imagine our shock!!!

Although I'm an intellectual man, not the sentimental type, who writes books and articles, that was too much for me - I was going to meet my all-time favourite actor, I was going at last to fulfil my dream!!! And it was the same for my wife - since we were teenagers, we grew up with our love and a common devotion to Rutger. During the 80's and early 90's, we would go together to the theaters to see Rutger's films. During the last years, we have built up a VHS and DVD collection with more than seventy titles!!! And we were going to shake hands with the real man!!! We tried to calm down, but we felt as if we were levitating.

We met Rutger at midday. There was a small room in his hotel where we waited for him. When he came in, so tall and corpulent and blonde, he seemed a lion in cage. Believe me, when you are with Rutger, the first impression is that you are in danger. Those blue eyes, that smoothy and at the same time sinuous voice, that mighty figure... you feel like you are with a "dangerous mind". But immediately you discover what a kind and good fellow Rutger is. For and hour and a half, while we drank capuccinos, we talked about everything - his career, his next projects, his ideas about life and cinema, his hobbies and passions. Let me reserve those words for myself. In fact, it was a dream-like experience. When the meeting was finished, I hardly remembered what I had talked about to Rutger. My wife, who cannot speak English, but understands more than a little, said to Rutger as a farewell, "It has been the happiest moment in my husband's life". She was true indeed. We were so nervous that we forgot to ask him for a photo with us.

Next day, I met Rutger on the set. He was wearing a false beard for his character, Allart Van Beuningen, although he wanted to take it out in the last sequence, when Allart is a "different person". That day I discovered that Rutger was a little bit tense. Then I read in his guestbook, "Today was very scattered and messy. Noisy. And off. When the darling director said maybe we should rehearse three scenes at once I got that feeling of deja-vu and deja-vu is that has never worked so far. Ok we got to rehearse one, alright". And I understood. But, believe me, Rutger was great in all his sequences - in fact, I think he is the most professional actor I have ever met. He has something magnetic when he works for the camera. In the morgue's sequence, in front of the corpse of McDowell, he was simply brilliant. The day finished with a visit from Spanish journalists which contributed to Rutger's fatigue. But he answered their questions so kindly that nobody noticed he was a little bit fed up.

On Thursday, Rutger was a new man. He talked a lot with the director, he made fun with other actors and dedicated a lot of time to me, between the scenes. Some of you have commented that you are not so sure about Rutger's beard. But that beard is fantastic for his role, and you'll feel it when you see the movie. As we were talking, Rutger proposed to me to have dinner together that evening. Of course, I said yes. We chose the Royal Hotel's restaurant. Eva Baró and Antoni Solé, "Tempesta"'s Spanish co-producers, joined us. When Rutger arrived to the hotel, where my wife and I were lodged, everybody looked at him with surprise and a sort of reverence. A black woman who was at the restaurant stammered: "A......A.......Are........ You?". Rutger nodded. He seemed at least fifteen years younger, dressed in denim and with that hasty, blond hair, after removing the motorcycle helmet. He looked as an Olympic god on holiday. And he was so, so nice that evening. So warm, so chattering, so confidential, so charming. He talked a lot about his imminent project for Starfish, some 'vignettes' with a dance company in Milano, and also about his biggest dream, directing a film. I guess he'll do it in the next years. We talked also about his best movies and parts. For me, the best amongst the best is "The Legend of the Holy Drinker", and I think Rutger is proud of that film, directed by the great Ermanno Olmi. Amongst the last ones, "Simon Magus" must be mentioned. In fact, I like very much when Rutger is not the villain in the movies - sometimes he has been typecasted as the "bad guy", but... what a marvel, when he interprets good guys!!! I must say that Rutger is a very sensible man, as he proves this every day with his charity efforts. This time we didn't forget to take some photos with him. At midnight, we finally dissolved that unforgettable meeting, which lasted three hours. That night, my wife couldn't sleep.

Friday 4th June was another very busy for Rutger on the set, and also a rainy and unpleasant day. There was an "over-the-hill party" planned by the crew, but the weather forced to suspend it. In the afternoon, the graveyard sequence was shot - my wife and I appeared as extras, very close to Rutger. The shooting finished and we said goodbye to Rutger, in other times our idol, now -- so human and fleshy -- our friend. As we returned to Le Royal Hotel, my wife began to weep quietly, and me... well, you know, men are not so strong...

Rutger with Natalia and Juan Manuel

The 'Venice' Set

Giorgione's 'La Tempesta' (1507)

Thanks to Juan Manuel de Prada for the detailed information

Set Shots:

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