Dolly de Leon interview: ‘Triangle of Sadness’

[The following article and interview contain spoilers about ‘Triangle of Sadness.’]

“I think that this is probably the best time I’m having in my life,” shares Dolly de Leon about the whirlwind journey she has been on in recent months thanks to her film “Triangle of Sadness.” The actress has received widespread acclaim for her performance in writer-director Ruben Östlund’s latest work, as well as accolades that include, so far, a Golden Globe nomination, numerous film critics prizes and citations, and a spot on the BAFTA longlist. “It’s been a little wild, it’s been a little strange and really crazy,” says the performer about the experience, adding, “I’m overwhelmed, at the same time, excited.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

In “Triangle of Sadness,” de Leon plays Abigail, a staff member aboard a luxury yacht who becomes the leader of group of survivors when the ship gets attacked and crashes near a deserted island. “What really got me was when she stood up and decided to become leader without asking for anyone’s approval,” remembers the actress about what drew her to the character. She explains, “It’s a patriarchal world we live in, so it’s an extra challenge for a woman to take up the position of leader… I was really excited to play that.” The performer says that even though the film is “a comedy,” “If you think about it, sometimes the funniest things are the most serious.”

WATCH our exclusive video interview with Ruben Östlund, ‘Triangle of Sadness’ writer-director

The actress carefully crafted a backstory for Abigail because she “had to find reasons why she would do what she did.” Her character work included creating a journal about “where she grew up, why she has those skills… why she can survive on an island.” Abigail has a very rich trajectory in the film, and de Leon felt that without her preparation before shooting, she “would be going into filming and I would go on set winging it and faking it.”

Abigail first appears in two short scenes in part two of the film, which takes place exclusively on the yacht. Even though fleeting, these moments were important for de Leon because they demonstrate how “Abigail definitely knows how to play the game, the game that society plays where there are hierarchies… She knows how to play the game of being a compliant, tolerant, and obedient employee.” In addition, the Golden Globe nominee stresses that her character is “a very good observer,” sharing, “She knows how they play the card of leader… she’s observed it all these years.”

SEE ‘Triangle of Sadness’: 5 reasons why Ruben Östlund could receive Best Director Oscar nomination

Director Östlund had originally written a scene between Abigail and Carl (Harris Dickinson) on the yacht, where Abigail observes the young male model exercising in the gym and gazes at him. De Leon admits she felt “glad that he took that scene out” because she doesn’t “think Abigail was attracted to Carl when she was on the yacht” and “she would just do her job and probably not even waste her time admiring all the beautiful men.”

Once on the island, Abigail and Carl begin a relationship as she gives him food and shelter in exchange for his companionship. Even though there exists a clear power dynamic between them, the characters seem to develop a genuine rapport. De Leon admits that she planned for Abigail to have “affection” for Carl and shared this with Dickinson only after filming, and he told her that he felt the same. “That’s the magic of creating characters or building a scene together with another actor,” notes the Los Angeles Film Critics Association winner, adding, “Sometimes the unspoken agreement between two actors is magical.”

SEE ‘Triangle of Sadness’: A SAG ensemble nomination will boost Oscar hopes

“Triangle of Sadness” ends on a shocking, unresolved note, and de Leon shares her thoughts on why Abigail behaves as she does in those final minutes. As Abigail plots to murder Yaya (the late Charlbi Dean) because the young woman has discovered a resort (and rescue) on the opposite side of the island, we learn that Abigail has no children at home. Since Abigail is Filipino, the actress explains, “If we have a family we’ll do anything and everything for them… If there is no family, then we fend for ourselves and we’re only accountable for ourselves.” She comments that this is an important detail for her as an actress because, “If she had children, there’s no question about it, she would go home, she would miss her kids, she would miss her family.”

As for the cliffhanger at the end, de Leon doesn’t divulge whether she thinks Abigail kills Yaya, but she does reveal that she “did make a decision as an actor,” saying, “It’s very clear to me what Abigail does to Yaya at the end.”

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UPLOADED Jan 10, 2023 1:58 pm