‘Another Round’ director Thomas Vinterberg took his actors to ‘booze boot camp,’ but the film is about more than alcohol [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“From the beginning it was merely a film about alcohol — actually, it was a pure celebration of alcohol,” explains “Another Round” co-writer and director Thomas Vinterberg about telling the story of four friends who test whether liquor will lift them out of their emotional doldrums. “But digging deeper into it, we realized there was more to it. We got more ambitious, and this project grew and developed into becoming a movie about life and being inspired … The word spirit means more than just alcohol.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Vinterberg above.

Mads Mikkelsen stars as Martin, who along with his longtime friends and fellow teachers Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Peter (Lars Ranthe) and Nikolaj (Magnus Millang) embarks on this experiment in day-drinking, and for a while the results are promising. But it’s not necessarily just their blood-alcohol levels that make them better teachers, husbands and parents. “I think it’s the risk they impose on themselves, the element of exploration and the element of togetherness … that inspires them more than just the alcohol,” Vinterberg argues.

But as one could probably predict, the experiment goes awry because “also we wanted to explore the dark sides of drinking,” says Vinterberg. “We have to acknowledge that this miracle liquor that can elevate a lot of situations, can make people merry, make people make great decisions, can also destroy families and kill people. So we ended up doing an investigation of the nature of alcohol and the nature of life when you’re halfway through it somewhere in Scandinavia.”

For actors, “it’s really difficult to play drunk and do it convincingly,” especially capturing the nuanced changes in manner and physicality that accompanies their characters’ escalating inebriation over the course of the film. So “we did some alcohol rehearsals, like a booze boot camp or whatever you want to call it before the shoot to figure out the specific behavior of these specific actors on these specific levels of intake. We filmed it, and we had fun with it, but it was also a lot of hard work … As in every case where you see something that works naturally on-screen, it’s normally a result of a lot of hard work.”

So far that work has paid off with acclaim from critics and industry peers. “Another Round” swept the European Film Awards in December, including Best Film and Best Director. It received additional nominations at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards, among other accolades. And it was selected to represent Denmark for Best International Feature at the Oscars, where it made the shortlist of 15 films vying for a nomination.

Recognition for this film in particular is meaningful to Vinterberg because “this movie, of all the movies I’ve ever made, is the one that means the most to me for personal reasons. I lost my daughter while making this movie. She was supposed to be in the movie. It’s in her classroom in her school. It’s a celebration of her life. So the movie’s for her, and any honor or award given to this movie would be for her as well, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”

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