I don’t know another character quite like Caterina — there isn’t a mold for this kind of person. You didn’t want her to be conventionally maternal, and yet you wanted her to be concerned for her son. I know that there are aspects of my mother in her that came to me in unconscious ways. I could identify with the child because I’ve been the child. But having to playact the mother, I came to understand my mother much more.
Caterina’s going from onstage to offstage in the movie is definitely close to home. It’s the struggle of trying to be an artist versus trying to live your life. If you want both things, you spend a lot of time trying not to give up or destroy either. And Caterina does grow and learn that.
If you just want to look at the film as Caterina’s journey — it seems to be about someone who’s desperate to hold onto someone and control him, and then learns to release him and allow him to live with his reality. And I see mothers trying to distort or even cripple their children because they’re so frightened of losing them.
One mother I know who saw the film found it very, very painful, but she loved it. And another mother despised it. I think you have to be open to admitting that we all have certain feelings. It’s one thing to read about Oedipal feelings, but when you see the manifestations of this idea, it’s painful.
When Joe is hitting Caterina in the fight scene, I tried to make Matthew feel confident that he wasn’t hurting me. I could be a real bitch to him sometimes, and then other times I’d feel so protective of him that I’d want to kill Bernardo. Sometimes I just couldn’t stand the fact that Joe was exposed, and at other times I just wanted to tell him to shape up, brat! It’s wonderful working with someone who’s inexperienced, because everything he discovered was like for the first time—you saw that learning process occurring in front of your eyes. And I thought Matthew was wonderful.
With Bernardo you feel you can really relax and allow things to happen. He never says it has to be X; he always asks, “What do you want to do?” And he gets inspired by what you do.
Before I made Luna, I was really never aware of the camera—probably because a lot of times the directors want to keep the actor from being conscious of the camera. But with Bernardo, you can’t not be conscious of it. After discussing and rehearsing a scene, you have to be in certain places at certain times, and you can sense the camera coming close to you and moving around. Bernardo uses an incredible crane, which is very small and which can be used in a room— a crane that can come in close from far away, and up and down, and get all this movement in one shot, which gives the film that luminous, floating look. The camera has a rhythm of its own.