“It forced us all into a space of introspection, a space of reconnecting with what really matters in the world,” producer and screenwriter Vanessa Block declares about indie drama “Pig” and how it seems to be resonating with audiences on a more personal level during what feels like an interminable and exhausting global pandemic. Block, who co-wrote and produced “Pig” with co-writer and director Michael Sarnoski, believes that because the emotional drama poignantly contemplates the effects of loss and grief, it is inevitable that it would speak to what many have endured over the last two years. “It forced us, I think, to slow down in a way and really appreciate something like this,” she says. Watch our exclusive video interview with Block and Sarnoksi above.
SEE Exclusive Video Interview: Alex Wolff (‘Pig’)
Neon’s “Pig” is Sarnoski’s feature directorial debut, starring Oscar winner Nicolas Cage as Rob, a once-revered chef turned off-the-grid woodsman and truffle forager, whose truffle-finding pig is suddenly stolen from him. Alex Wolff co-stars as Amir, a rich city kid who helps Rob in his quest to find the pig, as the two men develop a deep bond as they each reckon with their own personal heartache and sorrow.
“Pig” has garnered rave reviews across the board since its release July last year, scoring an impressive 97% “fresh” approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes, with the website noting that the film “defies the hogwash of expectations with a beautiful odyssey of loss and love” anchored by Cage’s “affectingly raw performance.” The film has scored nominations from various regional critics groups and at the recent Gotham Awards, while Sarnoksi and Block vie for Best First Screenplay at the upcoming Independent Spirit Awards.
SEE 2021 Gotham Awards winners list in all 12 film and TV races
“Pig” is at its most compelling when the camera lingers on Cage’s face, which is broken and weathered both physically and emotionally. There’s this profound grief and despair in Rob, who is paralyzed in mourning over the death of his wife, and who is suddenly confronted once again with losing something he treasures and loves, forcing him to emerge from his self-imposed exile. Both Sarnoski and Block agree that Cage was ultimately the best actor to pull off such an achingly raw and vulnerable performance.
“He’s just a guy that cares about what he does, and that was clear very early on and from there, it was smooth sailing,” Sarnoski reveals, adding that “as far as collaborating with him, he was someone I could always really lean on and he really understood the soul of the project, so that was a huge blessing for us.”
“There was a real curiosity that felt very genuine to me that I was struck by immediately and felt really spoke to a humility in him,” Block agrees. “I think is the reason for his endurance as an actor and his continued growth as a performer. He’s really exceptional in that way. To be a great actor, I think you have to be fundamentally so deeply empathetic because you are literally shedding your own skin and stepping into the shoes of someone else,” she suggests, noting that she “felt that really strongly from him, as from the beginning there was immediate reverence and respect” for the material.
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