I’m certainly not one to seek out relationship dramas about characters struggling with terminal illness, but I’m thrilled to have committed to covering the movie Hope at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival for a number of reasons. Andrea Bræin Hovig and Stellan Skarsgård lead as Anja and Thomas, respectively. Early on the film, Anja is told she has just three months left to live and from there, the movie explores how that diagnosis transforms their relationship.
Hope isn’t an easy watch by any means but it is a beautiful character study exploring how such devastating news can test the foundation of a long-term relationship with one of the best lead performances I’ve seen all year from Hovig at the center of it. That being said, it was a real honor to have Hovig and Skarsgård at the Collider Lounge at TIFF 2019 to talk about making Hope, what it was like working with material that was inspired by director Maria Sødahl‘s real life experience, what they hope viewers take from the film, and so much more. You can catch the full conversation in the video player at the top of this article.
We also need to send a big thank you to our presenting sponsor Nordstrom Canada and supporting partners Marriott Bonvoy and Ciroc Vodka for supporting the Collider Lounge at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival and helping to make these interviews happen.
You can find a full breakdown of the interview and the official TIFF synopsis for Hope below:
Andrea Bræin Hovig, Stellan Skarsgård:
- 00:42 – Was there any hesitation signing on to a film like this?
- 01:28 – What is Hope about?
- 02:20 – What were the burning questions they had for director Maria Sødahl before jumping into the shoot?
- 03:12 – They got two weeks of prep time before the shoot; the first time they met.
- 04:33 – One of the key qualities they look for in a scene partner.
- 05:27 – They did many takes and it felt new every time; Skarsgård on never looking back.
- 07:07 – Why Hope is a special film for Skarsgård.
- 08:18 – What they hope a viewer takes from this film; on the title of the film.
- 10:21 – Hovig and Skarsgård talk about the scenes they did with the full ensemble; filming scenes with real doctors.
- 11:00 – Skarsgård is also at TIFF for a movie called The Painted Bird.
- 12:30 – Hovig is at TIFF for another film as well, Disco.
- 13:07 – Skarsgård talks Dune and working with Denis Villeneuve.
- 14:40 – Collider Random Questions begins!
Anja (Andrea Bræin Hovig) and Tomas (Stellan Skarsgård), the principals in Maria Sødahl’s moving Hope, adore their careers in dance and theatre. Their blended family structure is complicated, with two young sons and an adolescent daughter from their own union and two adult children from Tomas’ marriage. Returning home after the triumphant international debut of a ballet she directed, Anja finds Tomas is working late, a galling abnegation of responsibility in her eyes. Then her physician gives her a dire diagnosis: she has an inoperable tumour that may be connected to the lung cancer for which she was successfully treated the previous year.
A long-time superwoman who’s been compensating for an often absent, workaholic husband, Anja soldiers on, refusing to tell anyone but Tomas what’s happening — and becoming increasingly exasperated by her children’s blissful ignorance, while only intermittently buoyed by Tomas’ support. The next few days will test the strength of their relationship more than any other challenge they’ve faced.