Beard almost totally white, no desire to look younger, but more and more seductive. Talking with him is a bit like retracing 50 years of Italian cinema history. They come to mind the many roles he interpreted for directors such as Bernardo Bertolucci, the Taviani brothers, Marco Bellocchio, Pupi Avati, Mario Monicelli, Nanni Moretti, Pier Paolo Pasolini, but also the theater, perhaps his greatest passion. Great actor, eclectic talent and all this great work recognized by critics who has held awards such as Nastri d’Argento, David di Donatello and Gassman Prize. An artist who never ceases to amaze, especially with his metamorphoses, choosing bizarre roles like Andrea, the protagonist of Il Padre, the show by Florian Zeller.
by Francesca Capaccioli
An exciting pièce, how did you find this text?
During the tour of Il Visitatore, I submitted this text to read, but absentmindedly I dismissed it. Some time, later, it was Federica Vincenti of Goldenart Production (the producer of the show) with Michele Placido to present it to me again. Rereading it, I realized that it had great potential. For me it’s essential that the text make people reflect and excite the audience and Zeller, young author, managed to treat in a delicate and intelligent way a subject like that of Alzheimer, he managed to put the audience in the head of Andrea seen from his perspective, a continuous chaos of anxieties, fears, voids that merge and overlap in his mind in an indestructible and deep tangle and in these voids emerges what has been, at times he is aggressive and cynical and soon after becomes like a child. Andrea has only brief perceptions of reality that becomes increasingly confused, the scenes alternate between reality, imagination and deformation, I tried to think like him, trying to convey the truth, without giving too much to the drama, some scenes are also comic and the fact of having convinced doctors was a further confirmation.
When you were five years old, you already knew that you wanted to be an actor…
My parents were humble people, my father was from the Austro-Hungarian, Rumanian and Jewish kingdom, my mother was from Bologna. I remember my childhood in Israel, that had just declared independent. We lived in Tel Aviv, I was five, maybe six years old and I went to the cinema, there was no television and when I came home I tried to emulate what I saw, I dressed up, I imitated these actors, I put on makeup and then forced my father’s friends to undergo my performances, I blackmailed them, I went to bed only after they had looked at me. When I played there was always a conscience in every disguise or role that I did, in dressing, in makeup, and this passion went on worked inside me like a disease and then I discovered that it was a job. When we moved to Italy, in Verona, I was nine years old and I found that, seeing my first show “Chi ha paura di Virginia Woolf” with Enrico Maria Salerno, Sara Ferrati, Umberto Orsini, there was also another form of expression in addition to cinema, there were actors that you could touch with your hand and from that moment I started to fall in love with the theater.
Haber you can get deeply into the stories you tell on stage and you can transport your being actor even when you sing…
Music is part of my soul is enthralling, it is very strong, it is as important as words are. The texts enter in your head, in your heart and they remain inside. To communicate through theme is fundamental, because acting is musicality, it’s time, it’s a movement, strong, slowly. I always sang for pleasure in the pianobar and in times not suspicious (it was 1995), Mimmo Locasciulli made me debut with three pieces in one of his concerts and I had an incredible success, two days later on the Messenger, Fabrizio Zampa wrote: “Haber great performer!”. So, the idea of my first album “Haberrante” was born, where friends like Virzi, Fossati, Ruggeri, Papaleo, wrote for me a piece; then, when Francesco de Gregori proposed to me the text of the “Valigia dell’attore”, I was amazed.
To find each other in every agreement, in every line was a strong emotion.
You’re eclectic, you’ve played incredible roles between theater and cinema…
With the theater I have total control of what I do, if you’re wrong it’s because you’re wrong, you become the author of what you do. It is more intense than the cinema you are thrilled with the audience.
One of the characters that has more involved me, that has more tormented me in some way, that has also left me something indefinable and inscrutable, one of the most difficult and unpredictable characters is Orgia di Pierpaolo Pasolini with Laura Betti, one of the show most beautiful and difficult I’ve ever done.
I am linked to other characters, such as Strehler’s Arlecchino. I decided that I would do it only on one condition, without a mask and without a rhombus dress. A revolutionary harlequin, with the real problems of work, unemployment, a non-European arlecchino, tragicomic that has been a great success.
Then Zio Vania, and also this father that I’m doing now, is a character in which you have to find the measure, the psychic force that does not give you anyone. Either you have it or you don’t have it. But one must have a critical sense, to look at oneself ironically, to distance oneself and then to recover. As always, I try to get to the truth, sometimes I feel true in the characters I play than in the life I do. This thing is strange.
There are actors who are transformists, I transform myself into the soul.
Gian Maria Volonté, for example, who was a genius, he was a great transformist, he totally adhered to that character, but I try to find, through my sensibility and my amusement park, that is the soul, the head, the body, something that brings me to that character.
In the cinema I did interesting characters, my myths were Volonté, Brando, Clift, James Stewart. I worked with many directors. In the cinema I like to play different roles, from an interpreter to small parts, as long as it has a meaning, a story, a character.
Tell us an anecdote about your…
Do you know that of Monicelli? I was twenty-five years old, when they were looking for two protagonists to play two colonels and then I went to audition. It was my turn, suddenly there was a sofa, a table, a chair and a telephone, Mario asked me the name, right profile, left profile, and then he asked me to improvise a phone call.
A phone call…To me, Haber! I had improvised many phone calls, I was laughing. On that occasion I had a brilliant idea, I did a crazy thing in front of the camera, I made the number on the phone and after a few seconds of waiting I said: “It’s busy!” And I left. And I left the room. Everyone laughed, but he, Mario, who was touchy, let me go and no one came out while I was leaving. This is also the story I tell in the film Antonio H, I did not want to do one who cried and laughed on the phone, it would be trivial, I knew I could do some brilliant things with the phone, but in front of Mario I did so.
Are you happy?
Happy, serene? No, the only thing that saves me is my daughter.
I can no longer fall in love, I prefer to stay for my business, I get bored, I feel a bit misfit. I feel that age is advancing. And then I often think of death and this makes me anxious. It is a melancholy fear mine, it is the fear of leaving a feeling related to my work, to my passion, it is like an abandonment… and I am sorry to lose this feeling.