Marc Forster interview: ‘A Man Called Otto’ director

Marc Forster knows something about movie stars. In his breakout feature, 2001’s “Monster’s Ball,” Forster directed Halle Berry to a historic Best Actress win (Berry is still the only Black woman to ever win an Academy Award in the category). Forster’s follow-up film, 2004’s “Finding Neverland,” was a Best Picture nominee with star Johnny Depp earning a Best Actor nomination. Later Forster films included blockbusters like “Quantum of Solace” (Daniel Craig’s second outing as James Bond) and “World War Z” (a global hit with Brad Pitt at the top of the call sheet). So when Forster praises “A Man Called Otto” star Tom Hanks as “the best actor I’ve ever worked with,” it pays to listen.

“He’s a whole different caliber of an actor,” Forster says of Hanks in an exclusive video interview with Gold Derby. “He’s someone who is that good and has been a movie star for 40 years and still loves doing it and brings passion and joy to the craft. It was just such a joyful collaboration…. What you hear about Tom Hanks is true. He is the nicest person in Hollywood.”

Based on the best-selling novel “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman which was previously turned into an Oscar-nominated Swedish film, Forster’s American adaptation (which swaps the name Ove for Otto) stays true to the source material, so much so that Backman was pleased to see his work so faithfully recreated for the screen. It stars Hanks as the title character, an ornery man in the twilight years of his life who is given the chance to find a new perspective when a young family moves into his development.

“I loved all these physical comedies he did in the ‘80s and I thought we really should tap into that. He is physically so funny,” Forster says of Hanks, who is arguably funnier in “A Man Called Otto” than he’s been in years onscreen. “His comedic timing is incredible. The great thing about Otto is he’s so grumpy that you don’t want to [like him]. Everybody else [in this role] you probably wouldn’t like. But because Tom Hanks plays his role he’s charming.”

Sony is set to debut “A Man Called Otto” in limited release on Christmas Day before a nationwide bow in January. The idea that the film’s message and the story will reach a broad theatrical audience is one Forster relishes.

“I hope really that people will go and see it because it’s a life-affirming story – it’s about a community coming together – and it has a lot of heart,” Forster says. “It’s a story that should be experienced in a theater because it’s a communal experience. Because in the theater, you laugh, and you cry, and you enjoy something together. Hollywood used to make a lot of movies like this. Now, less and less. And I really hope this movie does well and that more movies like this can get made.”

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UPLOADED Dec 13, 2022 10:30 am